Travel influencer fined £950 for walking through airport with rose given to her by airline

The seasoned traveller failed to declare the flower in violation of Australia’s Biosecurity Act

Natalie Wilson
Wednesday 23 August 2023 10:54 BST

Qatar Airways plane bounces off tarmac

A passenger flying from Qatar to Perth, Australia, faced a hefty fine after forgetting to declare a gifted flower from Qatar Airways last weekend.

Travel influencer Lays Laraya was fined around A$1,878 (almost £950) for falsifying an official document – her passenger landing card –after mistakenly ticking that she carried no plants upon arrival to Australia.

Ms Laraya hadn’t wanted to stash the rose in her hand luggage for fears the gift would be damaged so she “visibly” carried the flower through Perth Airport.

The travel influencer told Insider she had “nothing to hide” and landed the fine for violating Australia’s Biosecurity Act after a screening by airport officials before immigration that she originally assumed was due to her Barbie-inspired airport outfit.

Known as Skywardsfreak on her, now private, travel social channels, Ms Laraya had her passport and phone confiscated, while her luggage was also thoroughly searched.

The blogger claims failing to declare the memento from the cabin crew of her flight was an honest mistake. She was pulled up for ticking a box on her landing card that stated she had not brought any plants into Australia.

“It didn’t pass through my mind that the rose was within the category of those plants that they would be looking for,” she said.

“I checked ‘no’ and that was their accusation in the end.”

Flowers pose a biosecurity risk to Australia as they can carry mites, aphids and invasive species.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry says failure to declare goods known to pose a threat to Australia’s biosystem and providing false information is a serious risk to the country. Infringements carry fines from A$100 to the A$1,878 fee Ms Laraya was forced to pay.

The rose was eventually returned after it had been inspected and the stem had been cut off.

Ms Laraya says she is currently trying to appeal the fine on the grounds that other passengers with similar infringements got off with just a warning.

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