Sobbing grandmother hit with £1700 fine for taking chicken sandwich off the plane in top holiday hotspot

AN elderly woman was forced to shell out £1,700 of her pension after making a simple mistake when she left the plane.

June Armstrong, 77, was travelling from Christchurch Airport in New Zealand to Brisbane in Australia.


A grandmother was forced to pay thousands after making a mistake after leaving the planeCredit: Alamy
Her chicken sandwich broke the entry rules of Australia


Her chicken sandwich broke the entry rules of AustraliaCredit: Alamy

Planning on spending three months with family, Mrs Armstrong opted to buy a muffin and chicken sandwich at the airport before boarding her flight.

However, she ended up falling asleep on the plane and forgetting she had her sandwich in her bag.

After landing in Brisbane, she filled in the declaration form required on landing, only declaring her prescription medicine.

Border Force then checked her bags – which was where the sandwich was found.

Australia has very strict rules about bringing in produce from other countries.

Despite Mrs Armstrong apologising and saying it was okay to throw away, they told her she would be fined AUD$3300 (£1724).

The grandmother told the New Zealand Herald: “I was just sobbing and said ‘$3300 for a little sandwich?'”

Staff told them they could appeal it, however her husband later said they had to just pay it.

Mrs Armstrong, who is currently living on her pension, added: “I think of it night and day, I now am on sleeping tablets.

“I am consumed by how much this fine was and how much it will affect our lives.”

The couple said they are currently living on their pension and savings, which is just NZD30,000 (£14,431).

They even considered selling their caravan and giving up their bowls clubs to pay for the fine.

Mrs Armstrong said: “We’ve worked bloody hard all our life for what we’ve got – we live from week to week.”

The pair appealed, although said they heard nothing back, and have since issued a warning to other travellers.

A spokeswoman for Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said the chicken sandwich broke the country’s rules for imports, and said the fine could have been as much as AU$6260 (£3270).

An anonymous New Zealand entrepreneur has since said he would pay the fine for the elderly couple.

A 19-year-old woman suffered from the same mistake last year – and had to shell out thousands.

Jessica Lee, 19, was returning to Australia from Europe, when she forgot she had packed a chicken sandwich from Subway.

She was forced to pay AUD$2664 (£1391).

Australia has some of the strictest biosecurity laws to stop foreign plants, animals and diseases getting into the island and threatening the local habitat.

It’s not the only mistake someone has made when trying to visit Australia either.

Earlier this year, a man ended up in Montana rather than Australia – after flying to SDY Airport (Sidney town in Montana) rather that SYD Airport (Sydney city in Australia).

And here’s the particular food which is banned from all flights – as well as one that flight crew want banned.


Australia officials said the fine could have been much stricterCredit: Alamy Sobbing grandmother hit with £1700 fine for taking chicken sandwich off the plane in top holiday hotspot

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