How One Subway Sandwich Cost a Woman $1,800

A footlong Subway sandwich ended up costing an Australian woman nearly $2,000 after an unfortunate travel mistake, she said.

Jessica Lee bought the meal for a long, hungry day of flying, she explained in a TikTok video posted July 1 with nearly 200,000 views.

"Probably will cry," Lee began, looking clearly distraught. She held up both middle fingers as she added, "Big [...] to the government."

"Basically I just paid $2,664 for my Subway," she said. The Australian sum equates to about $1,800 USD.


Australian government tings 🥰🥰 starting that OF back up again to SURVIVE the next few months #fyp #australia #subway #boujee

♬ original sound - Jessica Lee

"I bought a footlong Subway at Singapore airport because I was a hungry girl after my 11-hour flight," she went on. "I ate 6 inches before my second flight and then saved the other 6 inches for the flight."

However, Lee did not finish the sandwich during her flight to Australia. Upon arriving, she received a declaration form that would significantly hike the price of her food.

"I thought the little declaration thing you do [was] for your carry-ons and your luggage," she said. "So I didn't tick chicken and I didn't tick lettuce."

"And that..." she continued, holding up a form to the camera and pointing at a figure, "Is a nice little $2,664 to be paid in 28 days."

Airplane in Sydney
A footlong Subway sandwich ended up costing an Australian woman about $1,800 USD after an unfortunate travel mistake, she said. Above, an aircraft is parked on the tarmac at Sydney Airport in May 2022. WENDELL TEODORO / Contributor/AFP

"I quit my job before this trip. I have rent to pay," said the traveler with mounting, visible agitation.

In addition to the fine of $2,664 AUD, a traveler who fails to declare items that may pose "biosecurity risks" upon entering Australia can be subjected to civil penalty proceedings and even prosecuted for a criminal offense, according to the Australian Border Force. The government may also cancel the offender's visa and refuse them entry to the country.

In 2019, a Tasmanian farmer was sentenced to 11 months in prison and fined $2,000 AUD ($1,370 USD) for smuggling over 2,000 garlic bulbs into Australia. Garlic is a known host for Xylella fastidiosa, an infectious bacteria that is lethal to hundreds of plant species and tops Australia's list of biosecurity threats.

Meanwhile, two people were stopped for transporting a collective 250 pounds of pork bologna over the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year. They were each issued a $1,000 fine from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

As Lee clearly was not traveling with large commercial quantities of food, the internet rallied to her defense. Many urged her to appeal the fine.

"Babe I definitely think you could contest this," one viewer said. "I've definitely travelled [sic] so many times with food for personal consumption on the plane."

"Surely they could have given you a warning...It's not like you were purposely importing it," another added.

"[Please] why is our [government] so dramatic," bemoaned a third viewer.

Still, Lee's Subway debacle was not all in vain. Her viral video caught the attention of the sandwich company, which sent her a surprise in the mail—a Subway gift card valued at $2,664 AUD, the exact cost of her fine.

Lee revealed the gift card, packaged along with Subway merchandise and a thank you card, in a TikTok update on July 18.

"This fine is worth every single penny," said the ecstatic fan. "You can best guess what I'm getting for lunch and for dinner tonight."

A spokesperson for Subway Australia told Newsweek, "If there's a lesson to be learnt from all of this, it's to always finish a Footlong in one sitting."

Update 7/19/2022, 6:10 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include a statement from a Subway Australia spokesperson.