Australian airline passengers told to flush drugs

CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian airline apologized on Wednesday for a warning a flight attendant gave passengers who might have been flying high that there were drug-sniffer dogs awaiting them at Sydney airport.

Many of the 210 passengers aboard the Jetstar flight from Gold Coast city on Sunday night had attended the Splendour in the Grass weekend music festival at Byron Bay and were returning home.

“We have been told there are sniffer dogs and quarantine officers waiting in the domestic terminal,” Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper on Wednesday quoted the attendant as telling passengers via the Airbus A320’s public address system.

“If you need to dispose of anything you shouldn’t have, we suggest you flush it now,” he added.

The newspaper said the warning prompted passengers to rush for the toilets.

Jetstar spokesman Stephen Moynihan confirmed the newspaper report was accurate. He said the public response to the announcement had been “mixed.”

The airline said it routinely makes quarantine announcements on such 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,” Jetstar said in a statement. “We apologize to customers offended by the comments.”

Jetstar said it was “addressing the matter with the cabin crew member involved,” but did not detail any potential disciplinary action.

One passenger told the newspaper several passengers suddenly made for the toilets with “things clenched in their hands.”

“Why would you tip people off about this?” the passenger, who was not named, asked. “ If they have got something illegal, let them get caught.”

But the response on Jetstar’s Facebook page was largely positive.

“What a good Samaritan, Jetstar Australia this guy deserves a promotion,” Rohit Dwivedi posted.

“Of course you should warn your passengers to help avoid them being humiliated, locked in a cage or fined,” Jebediah Cole posted.

Australian Federal Police declined on Wednesday to comment.

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