Inflight scams - tips to avoid theft on a plane

Posted Date: 11 March 2015
Inflight scams

You’re on the plane and ready to settle into your seat and relax. But beware, theft on planes is quite common so it’s a good idea to not let your guard down entirely. Thieves predominantly target passengers on short haul and connecting flights but there is always a risk of theft on any flight. There are even reports of professional scammers flying just to make a score.

How thieves operate

They will target you when you are either vulnerable or distracted. Their preferred times to strike include: when you are asleep, distracted by the bustle of food service or, while you’re engrossed in a movie. But possibly the easiest time to take advantage of you is while you are away from your seat.

Many passengers leave their electronic devices on their seats while walking around the aircraft, or leave their valuable possessions in a carry-on bag under their seat. You can’t always keep your gear with you but you can do a few things to avoid becoming a target.

How to protect yourself

Zip it

The extra seconds it takes to open a bag can be all the difference to a thief. If it’s got a buckle, zip, latch or even a drawstring, use it. This is good advice at all times whilst travelling.


Hand luggage

Men, put your wallet in a hard to reach place in your carry-on and ladies, take your handbag with you at all times. If you have to put your bag in the overhead locker, lock the zips together with a small padlock or secure it with lockable straps to stop someone from easily opening your bag and rifling through it.

Stow it upside down

It’s simple but effective. By stowing your bag with the lid down you will make it a little bit harder to open and that can make all the difference.

If it’s valuable wear it

We don't mean you have to load yourself up with all your gold chains like Mr T from the A Team. But, if you want to take sentimental or valuable jewellery, don't pack it in your luggage, not even your carry-on, wear it instead. If it’s irreplaceable you should consider leaving it at home. 

Keep track

Get ready to disembark while the flight’s descending. Give yourself time to search the seat-back for your valuables. Create a quick checklist on your phone of what you have in your seat. Don’t wait until you land.


The captain has turned off the seat belt sign

We all know how frantic it gets when disembarking, people are impatient to get to the overhead lockers and off the plane. This a good time for thieves to strike. Make sure you keep your bag in front of you and don’t put your wallet in your back pocket. Duty free bags all look the same, so it only takes a moment for what’s yours to become theirs.

Trust your gut

If you think someone is acting strangely, you could alert a flight attendant or airport security. It’s no fun for anyone but what’s worse - spending the rest of your flight with a fellow grumpy passenger or losing your property?


Getting it back

If you are still at the airport and realise that you have lost something, try and deal with it before you leave. Contact airport information they will point you to lost property where you can report your loss – you might be lucky and have just left it on the plane. 

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