How to safeguard yourself from sky-high thefts

Airplane Luggage Theft

Thefts can happen anywhere. Even in the business class cabin of a plane. Source: Shutterstock.

FOR most travelers, the entire process of traveling – planning, booking, packing, going – is often exciting and a joy.

Some people even ride tidal waves from the adrenaline rush during the door-to-door (home to the airport) journey knowing that they are about to embark on an adventure.

And that is not to suggest there are no worries associated with traveling.

From home to the airport, you could be riddled with one or more common concerns:

“What if I did not pack enough socks?”

“Did I remember to bring my international power adapter?”

“Are my traveling documents and my passport in my bag?”

So as you watch your luggage roll onto the conveyor belt behind the check-in counter, the last thing you want to think about is the potential “missing pieces” of your travel.

Airplane Luggage Theft

Source: Shutterstock.

Unfortunately, this does not mean you are entirely safe from things going missing yet.

A new travel scam is on the rise, affecting both travelers and airline employees.

Members of an onboard theft syndicate have been stealthily stealing from hand carry/carry-on luggage from the overhead cabin when they think no one is looking.

On Aug 18, 2018, a man traveling onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH751 from Ho Chi Minh City to Kuala Lumpur shared an incident on Facebook in which a passenger in the business class cabin rummaged through his laptop bag and took money from it.

He was alerted by his business partner, who noticed the passenger removing the bag and bringing it to his seat.

“My partner alerted me to check on my bag, and true enough it was gone,” Faiz Mokhtar wrote.

“I went to the man’s seat and caught him off guard going through my bag and his left hand holding some of my foreign notes currency (EURO and USD, which I am 100 percent sure are mine), looking like he was about to keep them in his pocket.”

“We then alerted the stewardess who was quick to take the necessary actions.”

While it is not extremely common, these kinds of thefts which usually affect sleeping and unknowing passengers have been going on for years.

“Apparently, the crew informed us, there is a syndicate that has been conducting this modus operandi on China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam flights,” Mokthar revealed.

And more often than not, by the time a passenger realizes they have been a victim of onboard theft, he or she would have long disembarked the plane and could have possibly even left the airport.

How can you best avoid falling prey to these organized criminals on the prowl?

  • Do not store money or your travel documents in your hand carry/carry-on luggage. Keep your cash, passport, and all required travel paperwork near you always.
  • Do not store your hand carry/carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment right above you. Store it where you can see it, i.e., opposite so you can spot anyone opening it and interfering with your bag.
  • Do not leave your hand carry/carry-on luggage unsecured. This is a bit of a no-brainer, but please lock your bag so it cannot be accessed no matter what.
  • Do not rush out of the plane the moment you land. Ensure you have left nothing behind at your seat and that everything in your hand carry/carry-on luggage is intact.

And of course, it goes without saying that if you see a passenger acting suspiciously, notify the cabin crew immediately.

Here is to safer travels and happier journeys ahead!