Just because you get hold of your hand-carry luggage aboard airline cabin does not guarantee that they are safe. There are instances where fellow passengers or even flight crew were suspects on in-flight heist involving burglary of cash, jewelry and other valuables.
To minimize instances of you becoming victim of this type of criminal activity, you are thereby urged to observe the following tips.
1. Stow luggage on overhead compartment across the aisle.
If you are seated on rows A,B or C, if your check-in luggage won’t fit underneath the seat in front of yours, consider using the overhead bin across the aisle above D, E and F. This helps make your luggage more visible within your view. You might not notice someone already opening it if it’s placed on top of your seat, assuming he or she is opening his or her bag.
2. Consider locking your small luggage or large shoulder bag.
Bags with zippers are generally eligible as check in luggage, but smaller ones come in handy especially with valuable items you prefer to carry yourself. Since it’s often perceived that carry-on luggage contain more valuable items, they are target of robbery syndicates preying on unsuspecting passengers onboard. Even though carry on luggage comes with the convenience: you can take anything you wish while reclining at 33,000 feet — laptop, tablet, writing pads and so on — locking them when not in use has its obvious benefits, especially when you’re heading to the toilet or falling asleep.
3. Orient bags upside down when placing them in the overhead compartment.
This arrangement, in which bags rest on the side with outer pockets, may discourage opening of bags as extra effort may be needed to pry open an unlocked bag. Attempt to unzip these pockets may generate owner’s attention so burglars may stay away.
4. Remove wallets, passport and jewelry before hanging jackets.
Front seats are equipped with hooks you can use to hang your jacket and reclaim that small space in your seat. However, make sure pockets of your jacket or extra clothing does not contain these valuables.
5. Mark your bags with visible identifier.
Thieves may feign ignorance or mistaken identity of their bags once you catch them attempting to open them. Placing of identifying mark such as sticker, ribbon or anything that makes it stand out as yours helps prevent unintentional, and intentional, handling and opening of your property onboard.
6. Walk it through x-ray machine.
It is customary that passengers have to pass through x-ray scanners before boarding the plane. Sometimes long lines can be the reason to lose your valuables — wallet, passport and boarding pass, jewelry, laptop — as you pass through metal detector long after your valuables have been through the machine. Wait until you are ready to go through the detector before placing your valuable items at the conveyor. More items get lost here than anywhere else in the airport.
7. Bury wallet, passport, and other valuables deep within luggage.
While you may need to pay for in-flight services like food or duty-free items, you may not need your entire wallet, present your passport or wear your jewelry while you’re inside the plane. So putting them deep in your hand carry luggage not only hides them from sight of thieves, but more importantly prevents them from getting stolen. Also, if not too bulky, placing them within your clothing gives that reassurance that they are within your grasp and unlikely taken away.
8. Observe your seat neighbors.
It’s not enough to hide your belongings from other people who might be tempted to stealing them. Get to know who are those around you. Are they solo travelers, young honeymooners, families with kids, or none of the above? Start observing their actions to detect any suspicious activity and consider yourself forewarned. If you see red flags about the three people seated in front row, you may refrain from placing your bag underneath the seat in front of you.
9. Speak up when you suspect theft.
Don’t be overwhelmed with nervousness and notify the person you catch handling your bag. He or she may have taken it by mistake. Yet, your action conveys your vigilance without overreacting. When you witness theft, notify someone immediately: flight attendant, gate agent or fellow passenger.
10. Be prepared to have what you need.
This is especially helpful when you’re boarding late and overhead bins are already taken. Flight attendants may ask your permission (which you can seldom refuse) to place your bag far from your seat, so have all you need during flight handy: credit card, cell phone, prescription medication, passport and ID.
11. Exercise common sense.
Above all tips above, it pays to be reminded to carry your purse and keep your wallet out of your back pocket and risk getting picked. You don’t have to bring wads of cash in the open especially when you’re not in the business to transact during flight. By not talking more to strangers about yourself and what you’re bringing on board, they won’t get hints about the bounty you’re subjecting to theft.