In-Flight Theft: How To Avoid Being A Victim Of Mid-Flight Robbery

Last Updated on May 15, 2020

The best way to avoid being the victim of in-flight theft is to first be aware of the possibility that it could happen.

To let people know about the threat of mid-flight robbery has created the infographic you’ll find at the end of this page.

Those who don’t travel often might not be aware that thieves are traveling on flights for the express purpose of stealing your belongings.

They’re taking items directly from travelers who are bringing valuables in carry-on bags. It’s known as mid-flight theft or in-flight theft.

You think your things are safe on the plane, but that’s not the case unless you take steps to protect yourself. wants to make travelers aware of this growing trend.

The police believe that organized criminal networks are stealing from people aboard flights. In fact, one passenger had over $200,000 in cash and two watches stolen from his carry-on bag.

Related Anti Theft Travel Products

  • The Best Anti Theft Backpacks– When you are a tourist your daypack is a target for thieves. These small backpacks are good at protecting your belongings from theft.

In this tutorial, there will be actionable tips to ensure that you’re as safe as possible with your belongings.

1. Be Watchful – While it’s still the safest way to travel with your personal effects, bringing your carryon bag aboard the flight still leaves you open for theft. It’s easy to believe that your traveling companions will watch for someone rooting in your bag, but the only one you can count on is yourself.

2. Add a Label – Thieves could easily swap your plain black bag for their own. Make sure it’s identifiable as yours. Add a label, tie a scarf on it or write your initials on the bag itself. Make sure you can identify your bag with a single glance. When thieves are caught, they often just claim to have made a mistake taking the wrong bag. Always label your luggage even when it’s going on the plane with you.

3. Line of Sight – If you store your bag in the overhead area, make sure you are able to see the bag from your seat. You can ask the person across the aisle to switch with you. Keep your bag over his or her seat and let her do the same. It’ll keep your bag within your eyesight.

4. Under the Seat – This doesn’t mean putting the bag under your own seat where you can’t see it. You should be placing it under the seat in front of you. From there, you can see if it’s touched or moved. It’s actually better than storing it over your head across the aisle. You can keep a foot on the bag to ensure it doesn’t get moved when you’re not looking.

5. Place a Lock on the Bag – If you were checking your bag, you’d never let it go through without a lock on it. The same should be true for bags you carry onto the flight. Don’t leave items in the unlocked side pockets either. Keep all valuable items on the interior of your locked bag.

6. Keep Valuables in the Bag – When you lock your bag, don’t leave any valuables in other areas like your coat pockets. All valuables should be in that locked bag to truly protect those belongings. When someone is checking their bag overhead, they could easily be checking the pockets of your coat for valuables.

7. Warning Sign – Place your bag in the upper bin with it facing down to ensure that thieves can’t get easy access to the zipper. You could also place a sign on the bag that says you’re keeping an eye on them. This is much like a warning sign on a home that advertises an alarm. It’ll make the thief think twice.

8. Motion Alarm – On a long flight, you might want to take a nap. If you are trying to watch your bag, this will make a nap impossible. You can purchase a small alarm for your bag that will beep if someone tries to move your bag. Long flights is when the pickpockets are making their move on your bag. An alarm could be the protection you need.

9. Leave Valuables at Home – You might not need all those electronics on your trip. The man who was lost two watches on his flight didn’t necessarily need those watches with him. Leave your valuables at home or in a safety deposit box if you’re worried about your home security while you’re away from your residence.

10. Dress Down – Finally, make sure you’re dressed down for your flight. You don’t want to flaunt the fact that you have money and valuables. It makes you a target for thieves who will choose their marks based on the clothing they wear.

Those are the 10 tips for a safe flight without losing your valuables.

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6 thoughts on “In-Flight Theft: How To Avoid Being A Victim Of Mid-Flight Robbery”

  1. Look out, look out. There’s a thief about!

    I’ve had things stolen while in church, but never during a flight. On a recent PAL flight from Manila to Bacolod (central Philippines) I put my iPod and headphones on my seat to go to the toilet A little later I discovered they were missing. First time in 56 years of flying I’ve lost anything on a plane. Just goes to show, wherever you are never, ever leave valuables unattended!

  2. travelling business I fell asleep. woke to find my seat jammed and unable to return to upright position. the cabin crew failed to fix it. Returning home I discovered my iPad was missing. I assumed it had slipped into the side of seat while I slept and caused the seat to jam. on contacting the Airline they said no iPad was found or handed in. which can only mean that either it was stolen while I was asleep or it was not handed in by whoever found it. I can replace the iPad but years of important personal information and photos cannot be replaced.

    • Sorry to hear it Nilofer.

      I’m not an Apple person but maybe Apple backed up some of your photos in iCloud? It could be worth checking out or at least making sure you have such a system setup if you do replace your iPad.

      But yes it’s another story to remind us to be careful while flying. Airplanes are not crime-free zones, unfortunately 🙁

      Thanks for sharing it.

  3. To date I have not been a victim of in flight theft. Your tips are great for everyone seeing as this type of theft seems to be a growing one. Thank you for your tips.

  4. On flight Emirates EK704 on the 15th of january 2019 Mauritius – Dubai at arrival in Dubai 5:30 in the morning when I stand up my carryon bag was already
    stolen and the thief left another one with nothing Inside !!! I my bag a laptop, portefeuille with 600 Euros, credit cards, important documents etc.
    The crew was absolutely not helpfull.
    I wrote to the direction of Emirates Airlines and to my insurance but no answer up to now.

    • So sorry to read this comment. Hopefully, you were compensated in full. We always think we are safe on the plane but thieves travel too. Such a pity.

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