Theft from carry-on baggage
As airlines increase their fees for checked baggage, passengers have started using larger bags as carry-ons and packing more valuables in them. This has led to reports of theft from carry-on baggage stored in the overhead compartments and under the seats of aircraft during flights and the theft of the carry-on bags themselves during and after flights. Often the traveller does not realize that something is missing until much later.
Here are some tips to help you protect the valuables in your carry-on baggage:
Before you leave home
- Airlines all have a maximum amount that they will pay you in compensation per piece of luggage regardless of the contents. Buy insurance or check your homeowner insurance to find out whether your policy covers items lost or stolen while you are travelling.
- Put bright-coloured ID labels on your passport, camera, personal electronics, sports gear and toys.
- If you put your cash, wallet or other valuable items in your carry-on bag, don’t store them in the outer compartments. Bury them deeply within the bag so they are difficult to find, or pack them in a smaller bag that fits inside your carry-on suitcase that you can easily remove if necessary.
- After you pass through the security checkpoint, lock your carry-on bags so that they cannot be accessed while you are asleep, reading or watching a movie. Holding the zippers shut with twist ties or cable ties is also effective.
- Many bags look so much alike that it is easy for someone to take the wrong one. Carry a brightly coloured bag, or mark your black bag with a bright sticker, ribbon or luggage tag that makes it easy to identify immediately.
At the airport
- At the security checkpoint, consolidate your items into as few plastic bins as possible to make them easier to manage before and after the x-ray. Make sure that you leave with all your belongings. Advise screening officers if something is missing.
On the plane
- When you board the plane, stow your carry-on bag in an overhead compartment directly across the aisle from your seat. Then you can see right away if anyone tries to get into it.
- When you place your bag in the compartment, turn it upside down. This will make it difficult for a thief to take items from the bag without removing it from the compartment.
- If you board the flight late, the overhead compartments will probably be full and the flight attendant will either find space for your carry-on baggage somewhere else or place it in the luggage compartment with the checked baggage at the last minute, which increases the chance that it may be lost, stolen or misplaced. If you have packed your valuables in a separate small bag you can remove it from your carry-on bag and keep it with you if a gate agent tells you to check the suitcase. Most airlines always allow a personal item such as a small bag or purse that fits under a seat.
- Whether you hang your coat or a garment bag in the hang-up area of the plane or put it in the overhead compartment, take all of your valuables out of the pockets.
- If you stow your bag under the seat in front of you, don’t place it with the pockets toward the front. The person in the seat in front of you could reach down into them.
- Never take a valuable article out of your carry-on bag and return it in view of other passengers.
- Never leave anything of value on your seat if you take a stroll or go to the washroom.
- If you are going to sleep, keep your purse or valuable item in your grasp so that any movement would wake you.
- Keep your passport, a credit card, a cellphone and any essential prescription medication on you in a pouch or vest when you are on the plane. If everything else you have packed disappears, you will still be able to contact your friends and family, check into a hotel, rent a car, buy food and get a ticket back home.
- Even on an aircraft, carry your purse with the opening facing you and keep your wallet out of your back pocket.
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