Don't Think Your Valuables In Your Carry-On Bag Are Safe In The Air
Tips to minimize the risk of theft when you fly
With all the other worries associated with air travel few people worry about theft. No, not the kind where someone steals your luggage from baggage claim, this type of theft is unique - it's where your valuables are stolen from your carry-on bags while inside the air cabin.
Several reports can be found about theft of property from airline passengers while traveling in the air. The people who steal from travelers carry-on bags have been both airline employees (usually flight attendants) or fellow travelers.
In July of 2010, an Air France flight attendant was arrested for stealing cash and other valuables from sleeping business class passengers on long haul flights between France and Asia. Police were alerted to the possibility of an airline flight attendant stealing from business and first class passengers in January after five passengers on a flight to Tokyo lost the equivalent of around $US10,000 in foreign currency.
Upon her arrest, Police say she confessed to 26 separate thefts, but believe she committed dozens more. They also found she had a bank safe-deposit box full of stolen jewelery, credit cards, cash, blank checks, and travelers' checks at her home. For more information of this arrest, read this article.
The theft of property from travelers while inside the cabin in not a huge problem, however it is one that any traveler should be aware of. Here are a few tips to help air travelers minimize the risk of theft when they fly so they can protect their carry-on valuables from people looking to take advantage of your inattention to your valuables.
1. Hang it up carefully If you are in the habit of hanging your jacket or coat in the closet, take all your valuables — especially your wallet — out of the pockets. That’s the first place a thief will look. This is one of the areas where a dishonest flight attendant was arrested for stealing from passengers. However, it is very possible for a fellow traveler to go into the aircraft coat closet under the pretense that they are getting something out of their coat, however they are going into other passengers coats looking for valuables.
2. Mark your bags More and more bags look alike these days, so put something on your luggage that makes it stand out from the rest: a sticker or ribbon – anything that makes a mix-up less likely. This will prevent the intentional — and unintentional — misappropriation of your property.
3. Place Carry-on Bags upside down When you place your carry on bags in the over head compartment, turn it upside down, making it hard for a fellow traveler to remove items from the bag with out having to remove it. Most thefts from carry on bags are from outside pockets or directly inside the main zippered compartment that are easy to get to.
4. Bag Inside a Bag Anyone who has traveled extensively since airlines began charging for the first checked bag knows that the gate area of a full flight today looks like the baggage claim area of a full flight several months ago. Everyone has at least one huge bag that would barely fit in a bathtub, let alone into the little metal cages indicating proper carry-on size.
6. Dummy up Carry a “dummy” wallet or purse that contains only one credit card, $20 in cash and one form of identification. Put the rest of the usual contents in your carry-on bag. That way, you’ll have less to lose if the dummy is lifted or lost.
7. Walk it through If there is a long security line, your bags may clear the X-ray scanner before you make it through the metal detector. Wait until you are ready to walk through the machine before releasing your purse, wallet or laptop. Sure, there is camera surveillance at security, but your thief will be long gone before any review takes place. Fact: More items go missing in the security line than from any other place.
8. Stow it nearby Once you’re on the airplane, keep your carry-on bag nearby. Some back-of-the-plane passengers think it’s smart to stow their bag in an overhead bin up front, for an easy grab during deplaning. Believe me, a watchful thief can grab that bag a lot faster than you can push and shove your way to the front of the line.
9. Bury Your Wallet and Cash in Your Carry-On If you put your billfold or any other valuables in your bag, don’t put them in the outermost compartments. That’s pretty much telling a thief, “Help yourself.” Once you board the plane, unless you plan on buying food, drinks, or duty free items, you will have no need for your wallet and cash, as few airlines still accept cash payment for things like food, drinks or (unbelievably) pillows and blankets. Other than one credit card to buy your needed items on the plane, bury your wallet and cash so deeply in your carry-on bag that the only way someone would ever find them would be to take your entire bag and overturn it on the floor back at their own home. Another idea is to place your valuables in another bag, within the bag, to make them difficult to get to by a thief if you are distracted or sleeping.
9. Watch your seat Be careful when storing your bag under the seat in front of you; don’t face any pockets forward, or the passenger in front of you may walk off with your goods. Also, never leave anything of value on your seat when you leave it to go to the lavatory or to take a stroll.
10. Do not pass go Take special care of your passport and know where it is at all times. Losing your passport will ruin your entire trip; trust me on this one.
11. Exercise common sense Carry your purse with the opening facing toward you, and keep your wallet out of your back pocket. I know this sounds obvious, but when people go flying, common sense often gets checked with the baggage.
12. Speak up Don’t overreact if you catch someone handling your bag (innocent mistakes do happen), but be firm none the less. Similarly, if you witness a theft, tell someone immediately — a flight attendant, gate agent, security guard — anyone. I‘m sure you would want their help if you were the victim.
Again, theft from airline passengers is not a common occurrence, however travels should be aware that they do occur and should take proper precautions to safeguard their valuables. Items you should never separate from yourself if you have to put your carry-on bag in a another location on the place because you can't find open space near your seat.
If you board late, chances are your surrounding overhead compartments will be full, but the flight attendant will probably find space someplace else, or worst case, they take it from you and place it in the belly of the aircraft at the last minute. It this ever occurs to you, you should always be prepared for the wost case scenario that your bag may be lost, stolen, or misplaced. If that is the case, you should consider the following:
Four Things to Keep on Your Person on the Plane
There are really only four things (maybe three) you need to have on your person on the plane, they are: your ID, a credit card, a cell phone, and fourth, which does not apply to everyone, your essential prescription medications). If someone steals every single thing you brought with you, these are really the only things you cannot replace quickly and easily, and that you will absolutely need to get you out of pretty much any jam upon landing. Almost everything else you can replace -- there are grocery and clothing stores everywhere -- but without both your ID, credit card, and cell phone, you can't rent a car, check into the airport hotel, buy food, critically, get on a plane to take you back home, or call your family or friends in an emergency.
Having the credit card easily available on the plane has an added benefit beyond the safety factor: it's the only way to buy a snack, a drink, headphones or an in-flight movie. Don't be the person dumping the contents of the overhead bin into the aisle just to buy a turkey sandwich; keep your card in your pocket.
The third thing to keep very close is any prescription medications; these can be difficult to replace quickly, and being without them could create potentially dire problems for folks with serious medical conditions.
Finally, keeping your cell phone with your important phone numbers can really help you out of a jam. Having all your numbers and an easy way to call them (try to find a phone booth that works these days) could really make a difference.
Anything You Really Care About, Wear It
You've heard the saying "You'll get it when you pry it from my dead hands" -- we all hope and pray it doesn't come to that, but for your most valuable things, this should be a phrase to, well, live by. If you don't want to lose it, wear it.
To see a complete selection of unique travel security bags, purses, locks and other items that can help you protect your valuables in the air, please visit www.CorporateTravelSafety.com.
Our site contains over 100 pages of travel safety tips and security tips that are useful for any traveler. You will find tips involving luggage theft, avoiding pickpockets, laptop theft, hotel burglary, and airplane, train, automobile, and boat travel crimes.