Thieves on BoardSecurity is something many of us take for granted when travelling by air. Most travellers are quite comfortable leaving their valuables in the overhead lockers or otherwise out of sight for the duration of the flight. But in-flight theft can and does happen.

Numerous AFF members have witnessed mid-air robberies while flying to a range of different destinations, and on different airlines. One member tells…

Was on a Malaysia Airlines 737 KUL/HKG October last year. Police met the aircraft, one bloke escorted off. Pax kept on board whilst the crew were interviewed. Prior to take off, cabin crew came around and suggested to keep any valuables nearby, not in the overhead lockers.

Even flying Qantas in Business Class isn’t completely safe. An AFF member has witnessed a would-be thief on a Qantas flight to Singapore. They did not get away with it.

We were on a QF flight in J to Singapore a few years back and the young person in front of us had his carry on rifled during the flight, He caught the culprit (the person in the seat next to him) and security were waiting at the end.

It’s not just passengers’ belongings that can be stolen. Airline property can also be targeted. Luckily, it’s very difficult for thieves to make a quick getaway from the inside of a plane at 35,000 feet. So passengers with sticky fingers are often caught red-handed!

I was on a Swissair long haul flight years ago when a passenger stole a watch from the duty free cart.The flight attendants came back an hour or so later when they realised it was missing and they pulled out torches (night sector) and searched the seat of the guy they suspected. Sure enough it was in the seat back pocket.

Although there’s no need to be paranoid about in-flight theft, this AFF thread serves as a timely reminder to take sensible precautions to protect your valuables. If possible, try not to keep expensive items in the overhead compartment in an unlocked bag. Or, as one member suggests, simply place the bag in a compartment that you can easily see from your seat.

Thankfully i have not seen this. But a wise reminder to – if possible – put your hand luggage in the overhead locker on the other side of the aisle from where you are sitting, not directly over your seat. This way you can easily keep an eye on things (unless you have a guaranteed overhead locker above your seat for your exclusive use).

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Theft on board


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]