Tips for Better Cabin Luggage Security
So recently I wrote an article about the misconceptions and risks of the various luggage types and how one can upscale the security of your luggage but, how many of you have thought about the risks of our cabin luggage? I know what you’re probably thinking, everyone travelling has money, so they will not be looking to steal or that my stuff is just above, in front of or under me and therefore nobody will risk getting caught in a confined space stealing from others……well you’re wrong.
Opportunistic criminals are all around us and while this article is not meant to make one paranoid or to be a fear monger, this is a topic that I feel needs to be brought to peoples’ attention.
There are a few simple tips or methods to up your security levels and just some basic common sense that will assist in making it just that bit harder for the casual criminal to get richer at your expense.
First Line of Defence:
People assume that when you go through check-in that you no longer need to be vigilant in regards to personal security. Just because people earn enough money to purchase plane tickets does not minimize the risk to those that are predisposed to taking other peoples valuables.
When boarding the aircraft, be aware that while the risk is lower, it is not completely gone. Some backpacks have smaller pockets for valuables when in normal use therefore keeping passports and money locked in these smaller pouches will ensure they are safe. While electronics are also valuable, the most valuable items in your possession are your travel documents and these should receive the highest priority when keeping them safe.
If your bag does not have this sort of built in pouch, no problem, then buy a smaller one like the size of a toiletry bag to lock and place in the most difficult area to access of your main backpack. This will ensure that anyone attempting to gain access to your valuables will find it very hard and time-consuming. In addition to this, some models like the one below have an extra cable that can be fastened to the bag to further prevent your valuables from growing legs.
Body & Neck Pouches:
The principle of these pouches is to keep priority documents and money as close to the body as possible while being worn under the clothing. The theory is that firstly someone attempting steal from you will have a tough time gaining access to the pouch and secondly tampering will immediately be felt by the person, alerting them to the problem.
While these can be a viable option for travel, there are a couple of drawbacks. In order to maximize effectiveness, these pouches should remain unseen. That means that if you are a person that prefers form fitting clothing, this will definitely wreck your style and will highlight exactly where your valuables are.
When used for cabin security, this I can tell you is not a great option when it comes to long distance flights. The pouches are generally strapped to your body or are hung around the neck and having that permanently against your skin not only restricts movement but is also a constant reminder that something is there and might adversely affect your ability to get some much-needed sleep.
Empty Your Pockets:
Now this is not another security screening alert, this is just plain common sense. Anyone looking to steal from you will automatically gravitate to any jacket or item of clothing likely to contain valuables. Think about it, when travelling, jackets have a lot of on-board storage in the form of their many pockets. Many of these pockets are not only spacious but are also fitted with either zips or Velcro. This makes them especially tempting to use when carrying items with you but will also be the first place any thief worth his salt will be looking too.
Apply the same philosophy as you would when you get home. Before you hang your jackets or other clothing up in the wardrobe, empty the pockets to make sure all valuables are removed. The same concept should be applied when hanging up or storing jackets on the aircraft. Remove the valuables and you remove the risk.
Placement of the bag:
When storing luggage in the overhead storage compartment, be aware of the orientation of your bag. Firstly look at where the Zips are, if the zips are to the back of the compartment then they will not be visible or accessible without first removing the bag. Yes this can be a little be of a hassle if you need to get something out of the bag but this is an article on increasing security and not increasing convenience.
Secondly, try to turn the bag upside down and by that I mean if the zips are manufactured with a flap type design, try to keep the flap facing downwards. This means that it will be almost impossible to access the bag without taking it out first as the flap will not provide enough of a gap to properly stick your hand in.
When storing luggage under the seat, make sure the zips are facing you and not the person in front of you as they could gain access that way.
Let Cool Heads Prevail:
Don’t be scared to speak up if you think that something is going on however, try to remain calm as it could be an honest mistake and nothing can ruin the holiday vibe more than creating a scene when this was not completely necessary.
There are only so many variations of in-cabin luggage so unless your carry-on is a Hello Kitty or a Luminescent Yellow carry-on where there is no chance of it being mistaken for someone else, take a breath and stay calm. If it was intentional, know that there is nowhere to run and even if the perpetrator does for some reason successfully exit the aircraft, they will be hard-pressed to get out of the airport building.
As a final word, just be practical and use common sense. Do not act differently just because you are travelling or are in an airport. Keep your valuables out of site or on you and don’t leave anything of value unattended. You have all heard the overhead announcement telling you not to leave your baggage unattended, well this is your chance to put that to good use and keep yourself and your belongings safe.