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One of the top travel news stories from this past week was about the flight attendant who was charged with stealing an $8,000 bracelet from a security checkpoint. Unfortunately, theft of all kind seems to be on the rise.
You may remember in the summer, an American Airlines passenger was caught stealing $10,000 in cash from other fliers during a trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Miami, Florida per court documents.

Travelers need to be vigilant about protecting their belongings at every point in their journey, from the TSA line to in-flight.

Regarding the in-flight theft, according to People Magazine: “At least one flight attendant noticed his suspicious activity mid-flight, according to an affidavit signed by a passenger, noting that [Diego Sebastian] Radio initially paced the aisle of the plane and then took an unassigned seat near one of the victims. The alleged crime was discovered when a flight attendant asked a passenger to check her belongings and discovered that several items were missing.”

TIP: Wear a money belt on the airplane so you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing your valuables in-flight. Store your passport, your cash and/or credit cards, phone and essential medications in it so you never have to worry about losing them.

In-flight theft on airplanes happens more than you might think, especially on red eyes and/or long-haul flights when most passengers are sleeping.

That’s why one of my travel tips is to put your carry-on bag in the overhead bin directly across from you. I know, I know … everyone thinks you’re supposed to put it in the bin directly above you but hear me out. If the bag is across from you, then you can keep an eye on your bag and see which bag someone is rummaging through.

It’s also smart to keep any cash or valuables on your person (use a money belt, fanny pack or money/passport holder around your neck) because there have been incidents when, even when your bag is under the seat in front of you, seatmates have stolen things when people get up to use the bathroom. You don’t want to lose your passport or cash especially so a money belt or fanny pack will keep them safe.

RELATED: A Touchscreen Crossbody Bag That’s Good for Safety Reasons

However, if you don’t plan on getting things out of your carry-on and don’t plan to sleep during the flight, then it’s a good idea to put your carry-on directly above you – especially because of COVID since other passengers don’t want you hovering over them if you need to get things from your bag mid-flight.

If you do put your bag in the overhead bin across the aisle from you, then be prepared for your seatmates to say something, since many think the space above them is theirs and theirs alone, even though it’s not. I’ve had people yell at me but when I calmly explained why, they usually agreed it makes much more sense. Plus, they can use the space above you, since you’re not using it and then they can keep an eye on their own stuff. Win-win.

Other ways to prevent in-flight theft? If you have valuables in your carry-on bag, then place your bag upside down with the zippers toward the back of the overhead bin. Also make sure you put locks on the zippers for an added layer of protection.

Do you have any tips to add to this story? Have you ever been robbed in-flight?

15 Comments On "In-Flight Theft is Real - Here's How To Prevent It and Protect Your Stuff"
  1. Melanie Galuten|

    I lock my bags including my purse. I just carry a small lock and put it thru the zipper openings on both. Would work for under seat backpack too! :)

  2. Max Weber|

    I have always left my wallet in my carry-on bag. No more. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Simon|

    I use a Scottevest that I wear throughout the flight. Passport, wallet and any other essential items (like CoVid vaccination card, iPhone etc) are in zipped pockets on the lining side of the vest – makes it hard to get too while seated.

  4. Michele Herrmann|

    I’ve started securing my bags with combination locks from opening. When I use the bathroom, I carry my purse in with me.

  5. Ross Copas|

    No. I’ve only been robbed at the ticket counter!!! I’m Canadian, and you know what in country flights cost up here!

  6. Tari Kelley|

    This is a comment that applies here-but also goes back to a recent Vlog you posted Johnny that I took to heart!
    I purchased Allianz flight/travel insurance at your recommendation since we are traveling to Italy and France.
    With the rise of Covid again, although we are vaccinated and boosted twice, we are still senior citizens.
    The thought of getting Covid and having to self
    Isolate in the midst of a trip abroad and trip interruption etc…. (As your fellow travel friend shared happened on his trip) was enough great information for me/us to contact Allianz and
    purchase the Prime Plan!

    I also gave YOU props to the Allianz agent
    “April” who was extremely helpful during the course of all my questions as to which Insurance fit our needs Best!

    The call was recorded so I spoke to “The listening Allianz Staff” via the recorded call and
    shared Johnny Jet Rocks and is the reason I am purchasing flight/travel insurance today!
    I have peace of mind now as we prepare to take our trip abroad.

    Thank you JJ for always providing “us” your followers with the BEST information!


  7. Patti Ford|

    $10,000 cash is unusual how did this theft occur? We were warned not to carry cash in Buenos Aires due to theft. I have been on this 8 hour flight.

  8. Barbara|

    I carry my passport credit cards and money in a waist type money belt. The cord for around the neck money holders are sometimes visible to a mugger. I also have a small wallet with a few dollars and credit cards with current expiration dates but that have been cancelled by my bank because I reported them lost. I have my new ones the old ones are useless, but give a thief the idea they are usable. I keep that in my purse and a thief is welcome to it. Gives me a good chuckle thinking of them trying to use it. I think it is safer because a thief is not going to try to use it while you are around and by the time he/she tries you are long gone.

  9. Cindy B|

    I use my small cross body purse as a back pillow and I always take it with me when I’m out of the seat.

  10. Bev M.|

    Put a flat purse with passport, money etc. around my neck under my clothes. An agent told me to put my purse in the bin. After I went through security I asked where my purse was and the agent said it was hanging on the coat rack which was right by where people were walking and where anyone could have taken it! It happened at LAX where there were tons of people. Putting stuff in carry ons is a great idea – just watch your carryon closely!

  11. Bob Kowal|

    There are pick pocket proof pants. I have a pair. Zipper plus a button flap and one pocket with another zipper inside the first zippered pocket. Love them. Don’t remember brand name, just google pick pocket proof pants” @ 89-99 dollars

  12. Felipe V|

    Lufthansa says passengers can’t use Apple AirTags to track checked bags. Would other airlines fall in line as well?

    Post from:

  13. neil brown|

    I wear Clothing Arts Pickpocket proof pants. Enough room and safety for my wallet, money, passport and other sundry things. They are perfect for travel. Also, maybe try to not travel with a bunch of expensive stuff – too many people think they need more than they do when they travel. Air travel would be a lot more pleasant if most travelers would skinny down what they carry on.

  14. Rebecca|

    I travel as light as possible. My carry-on is my only bag other than a backpack I take. My expensive camera goes in my backpack. I almost never carry a purse, just because it’s never a good idea for safeties sake. If I do, it’s a very small cross-body purse that I use only when going out at night. I never carry more than a few bucks, and use my debit card wherever I go, maybe getting €50 at the ?. I am a person who travels alone 99% of the time. Being a senior on top of everything makes me a target, but you can only be a target if you let yourself be one! I also stay in hostels and carry a paddelock. If they don’t have lockers, my backpack (the only thing I bring in with me) spends the night next to my head.

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