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One of the top travel news stories from this past week is about an American Airlines passenger who was caught stealing $10,000 in cash from other fliers during a trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Miami, Florida per court documents.

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.”

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 while you get up to use the bathroom. You don’t want to lose your passport or cash especially so a money belt of fanny pack will keep them safe.

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.

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


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9 Comments On "American Airlines Passenger Caught Stealing $10,000 - Here's How To Prevent In-Flight Theft"
  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.

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