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5 Tips to Prevent Theft In Flight

We spend most of our flights lost in entertainment or sleeping. So, how do you make sure no one rummages through your bag in the overhead bin?

25 March 2022
5 Tips to Prevent Theft In Flight

Frequent flyers take pride in traveling light and storing everything they need in a single carry-on bag. It’s smart in so many ways – you save on checked bag fees, you escape the airport quicker, and your stuff is with you if you need it.

Stop and think about the value of what’s in your bags. You could have thousands of dollars worth of stuff in there. Noise-canceling headphones, a smart phone, a tablet, a camera, it all adds up. Add some jewelry for that fancy dinner you’re planning and you’ve got to be careful about in-flight theft.

We spend most of our flights reading books, watching entertainment, and sleeping, so it can be hard to keep a close eye on our bags. Most in-flight theft is opportunistic and it goes largely unreported because the airlines actively work to hush the negative publicity. By all accounts, it’s a known issue but it gets the same level of attention as other customer complaints like flight delays or broken entertainment devices.

You know how to prevent theft in your hotel room and in a taxi or ride-share, but how do you keep thieves out of your stuff in an airplane? Here are the latest in-flight theft prevention tips from the experts.

You know how to prevent theft in your hotel room and in a taxi or ride-share, but how do you keep thieves out of your stuff in an airplane? Here are the latest in-flight theft prevention tips from the experts.

1 Lock your bag

Store a small luggage lock in the outside pocket of your bag. After you get through security, lock up your carry-on to prevent in-flight theft. People who rummage through bags on an airplane want to move quickly and quietly, so anything that slows them down is likely to stop them completely. 

Tip: Travelers on long-haul flights swear by motion detector alarms that can be attached to briefcases, backpacks, or suitcases. If you want to sleep, simply arm the alarm and if it moves, you’ll know! 

2 Store your bag across the aisle from you

Most travelers put their bag in the overhead bin just above their seat, but that’s not the ideal place if you want to prevent in-flight theft. If your bag is across from you, it’s in your line of sight even if you’re sitting in the window seat. That means you have a better chance of noticing if another passenger starts unzipping it.

Pro tip: Be ready to explain to other passengers who may get irritated that you’re taking ‘their spot’ for your bag. They can put their bags on your side of the plane and everyone’s happy.

3 Flip your bag over

If you flip your bag face-down when you place it in the overhead bin, the outside pockets are now impossible to reach. This way, a thief will have to take the bag completely out of the bin before they can access it and that’s pretty conspicuous.

4 Keep everything zipped

You wouldn’t walk around the airport with your purse or bag unzipped for all to see, right? Keep your bags and pockets zipped up when you put them down. A passenger sitting in the seat ahead of you can rummage through a bag you’ve stored under the seat in front of you. Prevent easy theft by keeping everything safely zipped up.

Did you know some purses have built-in locks? See the list of best anti-theft travel bags for women.

5 Take your bag to the lavatory

If you’re traveling solo and need to visit the lavatory, don’t leave your valuables behind.  If you think like a thief, that’s a prime opportunity for your row mates to steal something.

Pack up your bag or backpack just as you would if you were leaving the plane and take it with you. It’s the only way to make sure you’ll still have your things when you really do de-plane.

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Damian Tysdal
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DamianTysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.