With all the other worries associated with air travel the last thing you want to think about is on-board theft. It’s where valuables are stolen from your carry-on bag while inside the air cabin. 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 $US 10,000 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 jewelry, credit cards, cash, blank checks, and travelers’ checks at her home.
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. Both flight attendants and passengers can access the closet.
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 — handling and opening of your property.
3. Place carry-on bags upside down
When you place your carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, turn it upside down, so the bag rests on the outer pocket (which often contains valuables) This makes it nearly impossible to un-zip that pocket .
4. Lock your carry-on bag
While it may be an inconvenience, lock your carry on bag so it cannot be accessed while you are sleeping, or go back to the airplane lavatory. Most carry-on bags can be locked – some cases have built in locks and anti-slashing material for security.
5. 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 to the conveyor belt. Fact: More items go missing in the security line than from any other place at the airport.
6. 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.
7. 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 food or drink. Other than one credit card to buy items on the plane, bury your wallet and cash deeply in your carry-on bag.
8. 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.
9. Exercise common sense
Carry your purse in front of 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.
10. 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.
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. Make sure you take what you need.
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 passport if traveling internationally) a credit card, a cell phone, and 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 without both your ID, credit card, and cell phone, you can’t rent a car, check into the airport hotel, buy food, or get on a plane to take you back home, or call your family or friends in an emergency.
Anything You Really Care About, Wear It
We advocate don’t travel with sentimental or valuable jewelry. However, 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 don’t pack them, wear them!
To see a complete selection of unique travel security bags, purses, locks that can help you protect your valuables in the air, please visit www.CorporateTravelSafety.com.