View Full Version : Airline Theft

al olson
5-May-2007, 07:10

Last month I made a trip from ABQ to SFO. I had made the reservations online and was unaware that there was a stopover at Phoenix. When the attendant announced that we could get off the plane and leave our belongings on board I decided to get off and stretch my legs, stupidly leaving my belongings out of my control.

My carry-ons were my camera bag with two cameras, four lenses, flash, film, etc. that I had stowed in the overhead and a little day backpack that I had stowed under the seat. In the rush to get off the plane I grabbed everything and disembarked.

As I walked away from the gate I noticed the backpack seemed unusually light. A quick check of the main pocket found that the digital camera was missing. I quickly checked the middle pocket to see if my day-timer wallet was there with all my addresses. It was, but the $105 of backup cash that I had placed in it was gone. The small pocket where I placed a handful of coins and my car keys to go through security had been emptied of the coins, but my keys were still there.

I filed a report with US Air. The theif/theives could have been the cleaning people or it could have been someone who remained on board. Fortunately, everything in my camera bag appears to be in place.

Needless to say, I won't leave my equipment unattended ever again. This was the whole purpose of carrying it on board with me. A lapse in paying attention to your possessions can be costly.

Ted Harris
5-May-2007, 07:20
Not to make you feel even worse but I have had problems with USAir and baggage in the overhead in the past ... once had domeone come in and shove a hardsided case on top of my laptop bag breaking the screen. USAir's response was that the overhead was compartment wasn't their responsibility, it was mine. I checked and you will get the same response from virtually all other airlines AFAIK. My solution was to start putting delicate stuff in a hardsided carryon ... oh yeah and I lock everything and its all covered on business insurance ontop of that. A real PITA but the only way to protect yourself.

My personal bitch, even moe than the airlines is the guy who comes on at the last minute and insists onrearranging the overhead comaprtment so that, even if he has to use a hammer, he can shove in his bag.

m messerly
5-May-2007, 07:24
The rules for accountability are such that no one (the corporation) is on the hook for more than some small amount. Claims will be lost, delayed, ignored. It's a real joke and a license to steal. I've been very lucky but even staying on the plane hate to leave stuff behind where I'm seated.

5-May-2007, 08:13
Just curious.
Was it a "camera bag" that had the stuff stolen from it? Maybe a Lowe Pro or some other brand that looks like expensive stuff is in there?

Getting ripped off is a real hassle. I wonder why the folks still on the plane didn't notice someone cleaning out the bag. I'd start to think it was one of the passengers on the flight.

5-May-2007, 09:12
(The beginning)
When the attendant announced that we could get off the plane and leave our belongings on board I decided to get off and stretch my legs, stupidly leaving my belongings out of my control.
(The middle)
As I walked away from the gate I noticed the backpack seemed unusually light.
(The end)
Needless to say, I won't leave my equipment unattended ever again.

Al, what a horrible experience. From the title of the thread I predicted the beginning, middle, and end of your story. This is a good warning to all... never accept the "nice" offer during a layover!

Re: Ted's story... I'm the loud-mouthed jerk that will get vocal over people doing this in the compartment holding my belongings. I justify it by packing lightly and bringing on the smallest possible bag. I have had one too many items broken from those who cram bags in even when there isn't enough space.

I just HATE those people who bring on the big roll-on that us stuffed beyond all belief, plus a laptop and briefcase, plus a Happy Meal (complete with dripping soda that ends up getting dangled over the rest of the seated passengers) and then board last minute and expect everyone else to move their stuff. Not long ago one of these fat-assed jerks started pulling smaller bags out telling people to put them under the seat in front of them (which they did, out of courtesy... or fear of confrontation), only to watch him put ALL of his stuff overhead so HE could have enough under-seat space to stretch his legs.


(okay, i'm calm now)

EDIT: my sincere apologies to anyone who may have a well-endowed posterior and took offense at my characterizationof the guy on the plane.

5-May-2007, 10:03
I hate it when theives get away with it. My gear never leaves my sight around people. If I go to eat out and take my gear, I put my leg throught the strap to make sure that I do not leave it and to make sure that everyone knows I have control of it. Camera gear is one of the most prized of items going, even for people that don't know how to use it.
Thanks for the warning, I have never thought about that before. I will stay on board next time and keep an eye on everyone to make sure that they play nice.


al olson
5-May-2007, 10:07
No, Greg, it was not an expensive looking daypack. It was floppy, well-worn, and soiled. I normally use it to carry reading material and metallic items for going through the security check.

You may be right about who the thieves are. Certainly it is easy enough for cleaning people to quickly go through belongings while they are supposedly cleaning out the seat pockets. They could hide the items in their trash bags until they are out of the aircraft. On the other hand, there were only two or three people seated behind me who stayed on the aircraft. It would be a simple matter to move up into my seat and act like they were accessing their own carry-on. You never know who may be a thief.

Regarding the overhead bins, Brian, I try to stow my belongings in the overhead a seat ahead and across the aisle from me so I can observe how people are treating my belongings. This is after I have had two modestly expensive straw hats crushed beyond salvage by people shoving their hard cases on top of them. When I pointed out what they had done, there was not even an apology.

Yes, I have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles in my career and I hate airline travel as well. It is becoming more stressful getting through security as well as having to deal with the rude and inconsiderate travelers. If the trip takes less than a day by car, that is my choice. But for longer trips there is no real alternative.

Off topic--I was trying to edit my original message to correct the spelling errors, but I can't find the secret. I seem to recall that there was an edit button that allowed the originator to make changes, but I can't seem to find it. It looks, Brian, like you were able to accomplish an edit. How'd ja do it!

Andre Noble
5-May-2007, 13:30
I found that the digital camera was missing.

Surely, since it was DIGITAL, it was a blessing in disguise. Shoot film.

5-May-2007, 15:25
Thats very interesting Al. I would guess then that you were not the only person ripped off on that flight. I imagine many bags were pilfered and they got lucky finding the goodies in your bag.

I did a story on traveler theft once for a television show. The detectives I were working with had video of some pretty well dressed individuals ripping people off. So stereotyping a thief is impossible. They also had thieves, post 9/11, working inside the secure passenger terminal area of airports where folks with only tickets were supposed to be. The thieves often worked in teams and distracted travelers with benign tactics such as asking directions or would even sneak up on folks sleeping. Unfortunately, I guess the only prevention is to keep your bag with you and in front of your eyes always.

Sadly, thanks to your story, I won't leave a plane without my bag again.

Jim Rice
7-May-2007, 17:35
Al, as I understand it, editing one's own post is allowed up until the time someone replies to it. If time is not an issue and one doesn't smoke, Amtrak is a lovely way to travel (they are never, ever on time.......sometimes off by days {at least outside the Northeast Corridor}, so a different mindset is required).