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Corporate Travel Safety On-board an Aircraft

Detective Kevin Coffey, President & CEO of Corporate Travel Safety, recently spoke at the Association of Corporate Travel Executives’ (ACTE) Education Day. Whether we are road warriors or once-in-a-while vacationers, Coffey reminded attendees of the safety precautions we should all be aware of. This post, which will address carry-on luggage safety, is the first installment in a three party series on the travel safety tips Coffey shared.

Most people think their valuables are safe when using a carry-on bag–that if our items are near us, we are protected. However, theft can still occur and people who steal on-board an aircraft have been both airline employees or fellow travelers. Here are 10 ways you can protect yourself and your carry-on luggage.

  1. Check Your Jacket Pockets – Before hanging your jacket, take all your valuables and your wallet out of the pockets. Anyone on-board has access to the closet and this is the first place a thief will look.
  2. Differentiate Your Bag – Many bags look alike. Just as you may distinguish your checked bag so you can find it easily at baggage claim, do the same with your carry on. This way you can avoid a mix-up with another passenger grabbing the wrong bag, or a thief saying they thought it was their bag.
  3. Stow Your Bag Upside Down – When a thief rummages through a bag, they reach their hand in the overhead bin, unzip the bag, and feel for items worth taking. This only takes seconds and most people do not know it has happened. If you turn your bag upside down, it is more difficult to get into. You can go an extra step and place valuable items in hard to reach places or zipper compartments.
  4. Stow Your Bag Across From You – Most people place their bag over their seat. Try placing your bag on the other side of the aisle. This allows for clear sight of your bag and who is getting into the overhead bin. When the bag is above you, you cannot see what the person is doing and if they are actually leaving your bag alone.
  5. Lock Your Bag – Extra security deters thieves while you are sleeping or in the lavatory. Such security may be a portable safe. This not only keeps your carry-on valuables locked up, but can be used in various situations to keep your personal items protected throughout your trip.
  6. Keep it Near You – Some people will stow their carry-on toward the front of the plane, while their seat is in the rear of the plane. But it is much easier for a thief to grab your bag and get a head start while you are still trying to deplane. Keep your luggage near you.
  7. Bury Your Cash and Wallet – Do not place your valuables in the outermost compartments where thieves have easy access. Keep a credit card to make on-board purchases and bury the rest in a hard to reach compartment.
  8. Be Aware of What You Put Under the Seat – Make sure there are no zippers or pockets facing the passenger in front of you. They have easy access to your items without you knowing. Do not leave your valuables at your seat when you need to leave your area.
  9. Common Sense – Keep your purse in front of you and your wallet out of your back pocket. This seems simple enough, but many of us forget this rule since we are preoccupied by all the other aspects of flying.
  10. If You See Something, Say Something – If you catch someone going through your bag, stay calm, as it could be an innocent mistake, but be firm. If you have caught a thief, tell someone immediately.
  11. As a final helpful tip, here are four things to always keep with you: 1) your ID (passport if traveling internationally), 2) a credit card, 3) a cell phone, and 4) essential prescription medications. If you lose everything else, at least you have the things that cannot be replaced quickly and easily. Plus, these items will get you out of a jam upon landing.

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