Australian customs considered the stowaway sandwich a "biosecurity risk."
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A Subway sandwich
Credit: Kevin Britland / Alamy Stock Photo

If you've flown enough times, you've inevitably left something you shouldn't have in your bag. A pair of scissors in your toiletries. A bottle of water in your carry-on. A pork pie in your checked luggage. (Okay, maybe that wasn't an accident.) The repercussions can range from TSA confiscations to border confrontations.

An Australian woman says she recently had to deal with the latter when returning home, facing an approximately $1,820 fine after forgetting to declare a leftover Subway sandwich. But after hearing her story, someone decided to come to her rescue: the Subway restaurant chain, of course.

Taking to TikTok, Jessica Lee says she purchased a footlong Subway sandwich during a stopover in Singapore. "I ate six inches before my second flight and then saved the other six inches for the flight," she stated. However, she never actually finished the sandwich on the plane, which is where things went wrong. "I thought the little declaration thing you do is for your carry-ons and your luggage, so I didn't tick chicken and I didn't tick lettuce." When the half-finished sandwich was discovered, the result was a government fine of $2,664 AUD (about $1,800 USD).

In the video, Lee did admit, "It is my mistake." And, reached for comment by Australia's News.com.au, a spokesperson for the country's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry explained that Lee should have been aware that her actions were a breach of Australia's Biosecurity Act.

"All meat products and vegetables must be declared on the Incoming Passenger Card. This is a legal declaration," a departmental spokesperson told the news site. "All airlines play mandatory biosecurity messaging (video/audio) in flight at top of descent (i.e. just prior to landing — not mid-flight when passengers might be sleeping) highlighting things of biosecurity risk, and the need to declare food and ingredients, and to leave all food on-board."

Based on that detail, some travelers might not be particularly sympathetic. However, the TikTok complaint did catch the attention of Subway of Australia. And though they didn't pay her fine, they did give her a bit of a reimbursement: a Subway gift card for $2,664 AUD, the exact amount of the fine, along with a thank you card and a box of Subway merchandise such as a hat, scrunchy, socks, and playing cards.

"If there's a lesson to be learnt from all of this, it's to always finish a Footlong in one sitting," Subway of Australia quipped. "We wanted to send one of our biggest fans a little thank you for Eating Fresh. We're sure it will cover all her chicken and lettuce needs."

Back on TikTok, Subway got plenty of positive exposure in return: As of this writing, Lee's unboxing video has gotten over half a million views. "Subway makes my fine worth every single cent," Lee wrote on the clip. They also appear to have gotten a customer for life… or at least as long as $2,664 AUD lasts.