Is it Illegal to “Souvenir” Airline Safety Cards?

Is it Illegal to "Souvenir" Airline Safety Cards?

Some frequent flyers like to collect things like boarding passes, airline amenity kits, business class pyjamas or in-flight magazines. But is it legal to collect the safety instruction cards found in aircraft seat pockets?

Last week, Qantas operated three Boeing 747 joy flights before the “queen of the skies” is retired for good. Passengers on these special flights were given souvenirs to mark the occasion including caps, flags, coasters, certificates and (for those lucky few in Business class) special “retro roo” bags.

Some passengers were also keen to “souvenir” one of the retiring Boeing 747’s safety instruction cards. This sparked a debate on AFF about whether it is legal to take airline safety cards from an aircraft.

To find out the answer, AFF member Danger took the initiative to contact CASA, Australia’s civil aviation safety regulator. This member enquired whether removing an airline safety card is in fact, in fact, allowed in Australia.

After referring the matter to the aviation safety authority’s legal department, a CASA representative replied that it is not against Australian air safety regulations for a passenger to remove a safety instruction card from a plane.

However, it is the airline’s responsibility to ensure all passengers are “appropriately briefed”. These responsibilities include ensuring there is a safety instruction card available for each passenger at the start of every new flight. If a passenger was to remove one of these cards, the airline would need to ensure it was replaced before the start of the next flight. In reality, this may not happen every time if the airline is not immediately made aware that the card has been stolen – potentially causing an inadvertent breach of safety regulations by the airline.

Furthermore, while taking a safety instruction card may not be technically against air safety regulations in Australia, it could still be considered theft of airline property. According to CASA, an airline could request that police charge a passenger with theft if caught. After all, those safety cards belong to the airline. In that sense, it would fall into the same category as swiping an airline blanket or headphones.

Clearly, last week’s Qantas 747 joy flights were an exception. On these flights, passengers were welcomed and even encouraged to take the safety cards as a memento. In fact, some of the flight attendants were handing them out to passengers!

I can of course understand wanting a Qantas 747 safety card from one of the farewell flights. But given the poor condition of some of the safety cards I’ve seen on regular commercial flights, I’m personally unsure why anybody would wish to routinely collect them. I’ve even seen passengers cleaning their toenails with those laminated cards!

Airline safety instruction cards for sale on eBay

Apparently, though, there are people out there that enjoy collecting safety cards and value them enough to pay money for them. If you don’t believe me, just search for “airline safety cards” on eBay. There’s even one Qantas 747-400 safety card currently on sale for $205!

Qantas 747-400 safety instruction card for sale on eBay
Qantas 747-400 safety instruction card for sale on eBay

The particular safety card pictured above went on sale the day after the Canberra joy flight. But even more outrageous is this offer posted by another eBay user this week:

Qantas souvenirs given to Economy passengers on the 747 joy flights are on sale for $500 on eBay. A ticket on the flight cost $400.
Qantas souvenirs given to Economy passengers on the 747 joy flights are on sale for $500 on eBay. A ticket on the flight cost $400.

Perhaps these sellers are hoping to recoup some of the cost of their $400 tickets? 😉

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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]