How to be a savvy traveller & not fall victim to mid-air theft

Travel News 24 May 2016

In recent years there has been a significant rise in the occurrence of thefts mid-flight onboard commercial flights, particularly into Hong Kong.  In fact, in 2015 there were over 70 reports of thefts aboard flights into Hong Kong alone.

Most recently a passenger onboard an Emirates flight is reported to have lost over $250K in ‘mid-air theft’. The theft happened on the Dubai to Hong Kong route and was a result of stolen watches and currency.  

Hong Kong has been identified as the most lucrative route for criminals seeking to benefit from complacent travellers. In 2014 over $2.6M was attributed to mid air thefts. Hong Kong is typically a high-spend tourist destination with many travellers travelling to and from Hong Kong  in possession of luxury items such as watches and jewellery, in addition to large sums of cash.

South African Airways has gone as far as blacklisting a customer who is reported to have orchestrated a ‘gang of thieves’ operating 30,000 feet in the air on the Johannesburg to Hong Kong route.  

While the airlines are discussing potential measures like installing CCTV cameras onboard, you can implement your own measures to keep your belongings safe while you sit back and enjoy your flight.

So how can you keep your belongings safe mid-flight?  

  • Keep as much as you can on you; your suit jacket may seem safe hanging in the wardrobe, but make sure you take out your wallet and passport before giving it over to the cabin crew, even when travelling in first and business class. The only way to ensure your belongings are safe is if you keep them on yourself, or even better, use a money belt. 
  • Place carry-on bags upside down or with the zip furthest away from the so they are harder to access. Thieves want to be as discreet as possible, and are less likely to spend time moving a bag around. 
  • Lock your carry-on; although this can be somewhat time consuming, locking your carry-on is the safest way to travel. We love the Bluesmart carry on for total peace of mind when you travel. 
  • No need for a quick getaway - some time poor travellers opt to put their carry on at the front of plane to make for a speedy disembarkment, however, by keeping your carry on further away from you, the more chance you are giving to thieves  to rifle through your belongings
  • Check your belongings at top of descent and notify the crew if you find something missing. Cabin crew are first and foremost trained for your safety and security - if you suspect a fellow passengers of stealing, notify your cabin crew first and do not approach the customer yourself. They are trained with techniques on dealing with these situations.