Apple Drama: Colorado Woman Has Global Entry Reinstated Following Congressman’s Intervention After Customs Violation

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Two months ago a Colorado based passenger arrived at a U.S. point of entry from Paris on Delta Air Lines and the airline handed out fruits during the flight which the lady then decided to take off the plane, a decision that cost her $500 as well as her Global Entry membership.

The case caused headlines throughout the media and caught the attention of a Congressman from Colorado who intervened on the woman’s behalf with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), resulting in them reversing their decision.

When this case first became public in April I wrote about it (see here) as it’s quite interesting to see how Global Entry members who honestly should know better try and flout the rules at times.

Customs and Border Protection has repeatedly stated that Global Entry and Nexus members are held to much higher standards than the regular traveler and that a violation of any kind can lead to having the membership terminated.

Now there are new developments as SF Gate reported yesterday (access here).

Two months ago, a Delta passenger generated national headlines when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer fined her $500 and revoked her Global Entry membership all because of an apple.

But thanks to a Colorado Congressman, the fine has been revoked and her Global Entry status restored. …

Fortunately for Tadlock, her TV interview was seen by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), who took umbrage at Customs’ draconian enforcement of the fruit law. In Washington, he huddled with officials from Customs and the Department of Agriculture to argue Tadlock’s case, suggesting the agencies need to learn to use discretion instead of strictly going by the book in every situation.

Customs agreed to drop the $500 fine and to restore Tadlock’s trusted traveler status. It seems that common sense prevailed over a clearly unreasonable punishment.

The excuses she brought up don’t have any merit in my opinion. She is a Global Entry participant and obviously travels internationally on a frequent basis. Global Entry applicants receive an introduction during their interview and are informed in all materials related to the program that it’s a system based on ‘trust’ hence the description Trusted Traveler Program. Members have to self police themselves and act in a fashion according to regulations and rules of the program.

While certainly a good outcome for the person involved it shines the focus on a very important issue: Customs agents have a lot of discretion when it comes to interpret if and how an individual has violated the rules.

A while back I wrote about a document obtained through the Freedom of Information Act where DHS/CBP made a list of revoked Global Entry memberships available (see here) and it’s a good insight to what people think they can get away with.

Conclusion

As far as this particular case is concerned I’m still under the impression there was some attitude on the part of the passenger involved. I might be wrong but the all the statements in related articles and videos drive me to that conclusion. There is no remorse and lots of shifting the blame to Delta and the customs agent.

Right now it’s mid-term election season in the U.S. and politicians try to point with the public so this action seems more like a political stunt. CBP shouldn’t have relented in this matter and insisted that the traveler broke the rules. In any case I bet that they placed her on a special watch list or marked her profile so even the slightest violation will now see her kicked off. And at some point she has to renew the membership.

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