An Australian airline has sparked a drugs row after an attendant warned passengers about sniffer dogs waiting at Sydney airport, causing a rush to the plane toilets.
Many of the 210 people on board the Jetstar Flight from the Gold Coast were returning from the Splendour in the Grass music festival on Sunday night.
According to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, a flight attendant took to the Airbus A320’s tannoy to warn passengers of impending drug checks.
“We have been told there are sniffer dogs and quarantine officers waiting in the domestic terminal,” he said.
“If you need to dispose of anything you shouldn't have, we suggest you flush it now.”
Witnesses said several passengers took heed of the warning and started queuing for the toilets, some clenching unidentified items.
One passenger told the Daily Telegraph: "I was shocked. Why would you tip people off about this? If they have got something illegal, let them get caught."
A crackdown at the three-day festival, where Lily Allen and Outkast performed, had already resulted in 271 people being found in possession of illegal drugs, including cannabis, MDMA, speed, ice and cocaine, New South Wales Police said.
The airline was criticised by some for potentially stopping arrests but many people flooded to Jetstar's Facebook page to praise the unidentified flight attendant.
Reef Al-Lahiq wrote: “Awesome job…more of that kind of customer service is needed.”
Jesse Lane added: “Whether she actually knew or not that dogs were waiting doesn't matter. She did however aid in destroying an unknown quantity of drugs that will never hit the street.”
Many people called for a raise or promotion for the steward, with some casting unofficial votes for the “employee of the year” award.
Jetstar said it routinely made quarantine announcements on flights that cross state borders.
"The crew member's words were poorly chosen and are plainly at odds with the professional standards we'd expect from our team," a statement said. "We apologise to customers offended by the comments."
The company added that it was "addressing the matter with the cabin crew member involved".
The Australian Federal Police declined to comment.
Additional reporting by PAReuse content