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How a half-eaten chicken footlong from Subway ended up costing an Australian air passenger $1,844.

A Subway employee holds up a foot-long sandwich.

Newscast/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

  • An Australian passenger who bought a Subway sandwich at a stopover incurred a hefty fine.
  • Australia has long maintained strict biosecurity standards.
  • The story went viral on TikTok, and prompted Subway to send the passenger a $1,884 voucher.

Subway is known for its “five-dollar footlong” promotion, but one of the chain’s sandwiches ended up costing one Australian air passenger over a thousand dollars in fines. 

The Washington Post reported that an Australian flight passenger named Jessica Lee recently ran into trouble after purchasing a Subway chicken sandwich at a Singapore stopover, on the way back from a vacation in Greece. Lee said she ate half of the sandwich on the flight, and then tucked the rest into her bag.

But that decision saw Lee get hit with a fine of 2,664 Australian dollars — or $1,844 — for violating Australia’s strict Biosecurity Act. The act passed in Australia’s parliament in 2015, and seeks to mitigate both agricultural and human medical biosecurity risks. As an isolated continent boasting unique and fragile ecosystems, Australia has long been stringent about maintaining its biosecurity. Scientific American previously reported on the government’s “war” against non-native species.

Australia requires incoming travelers to declare certain foods, plant material and animal products. By failing to disclose the leftover Subway sandwich, Lee ran afoul of the law.

After getting slapped with the fine, Lee went on to share her story on TikTok and with the Washington Post. In response to the viral social media moment, Subway gifted Lee with an assortment of items, including a sandwich voucher for $1,844.

@_jessicaleeee Replying to @subwayaustralia ARE YOU KIDDING?! 😩😻😻 basically free subs for a year #fyp #subwayfine #subway #eatfresh ♬ original sound – Jessica Lee

“Now my family calls me ‘Subway girl,’ ” Lee told The Washington Post. 

“All my friends and family were sending me screenshots of the news articles, and I was just sitting there thinking, ‘Like, yeah, I’m actually on the internet for being an absolute idiot,’ ” she said, laughing.

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