SYDNEY - Australian budget airline Jetstar apologised on Wednesday after a crew member told passengers on a flight from the Gold Coast tourist strip, including some returning from a popular music festival, to flush away "anything you shouldn't have". He was thought to be referring to drugs.
The warning from the flight attendant that sniffer dogs and quarantine officers were on standby in Sydney prompted a rush to the plane's toilets, News Ltd reported.
Jetstar, owned by Qantas Airways Ltd, said it discussed the matter with the crew member involved, who made the announcement over the plane's PA system.
The airline said the flight attendant had taken a routine announcement about Australia's strict quarantine regulations, which prevent some plant and fruit materials being transported between states, too far.
"Our procedures allow cabin crew to deliver the quarantine message through a public announcement and on this occasion the crew member elected to do so," Jetstar said.
"The crew member's words were poorly chosen and are plainly at odds with the professional standards we'd expect from our team," it said in an emailed statement.
The crew member's remarks received a mixed response. One passenger on board the flight told the Daily Telegraph they were "shocked", adding: "Why would you tip people off about this?" But another commentator on Jetstar's Facebook page said having sniffer dogs at the airport was "entrapment" and "your cabin crew did the best thing for all".
The indie music festival Splendour in the Grass, the largest of its kind in Australia over winter, is held over three days near the tourist haven of Byron Bay, about an hour's drive south of the Gold Coast across the Queensland state border.
The festival attracts around 30,000 fans to Byron Bay's seaside parklands each year, with 2014's line-up featuring artists including Outkast, Lily Allen, and Interpol.