August 17, 2022

A passenger on a recent American Airlines flight stole over $10,000 plus two credit cards from fellow travelers, but didn’t quite get away with it.

Inflight theft on Buenos Aires to Miami flight

Police were called to meet American Airlines flight AA900 from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Miami (MIA) on the morning of July 5, 2022. According to court documents, a passenger stole over $10,000 plus two credit cards from passengers seated near him.

This issue came to light after flight attendants observed suspicious behavior, including a passenger repeatedly walking up and down the aisle, and sitting for an extended period of time in a seat that didn’t belong to him. Another crew member observed the passenger with a wallet that looked like it belonged to a female.

The flight crew advised passengers in the area to search their belongings to see if anything was missing. One passenger confirmed that $10,022 and 13,800 Argentinian Pesos (worth ~$109) were missing from her wallet.

Another passenger inspected her belongings after hearing about the situation, and noticed that $720, 520 Argentinian Pesos (worth ~$4), and two credit cards, were missing.

After being searched, it was determined that the thief had two credit cards in his possession matching the name of another traveler. Furthermore, a passenger was able to identify some of the bills in the passenger’s possession, based on unique stamps some of the bills had on them.

When questioned by police, the passenger admitted that he had stolen from other passengers, and he’s now awaiting sentencing.

Big kudos to the American Airlines crew for being so observant!

A passenger stole from others on an American Airlines flight

This happens a lot more than you’d think

Many travelers have a fear of valuables being stolen from checked luggage, but this is a good reminder to keep a close eye on any valuables you bring as carry-ons as well. If you’re going to travel with $10,000+ in currency, you should probably keep that in your immediate area, rather than stuffing it into a bag and keeping it in an overhead bin.

Many people assume that inflight theft doesn’t happen much, since you’re in such tight quarters, and you always have eyes on you. Quite to the contrary, I think that often works in the favor of thieves. People aren’t as observant because they assume they’re safe, people often won’t question if someone opens a bag, and people often store bags behind them.

Inflight theft happens all the time — there are frequent reports of this, and then I imagine there are endless instances of this that aren’t reported. So always keep an eye on your carry-ons, ideally try to store them in front of you (where you can see them throughout the flight), and be vigilant.

Lastly, if you’re traveling with real valuables or large amounts of cash, keep those really close to you — the overhead bin isn’t a safe place to store them, especially if people have a reason to believe you might be carrying something valuable.

Inflight theft happens more often than you’d think

Bottom line

An American Airlines passenger on a recent Buenos Aires to Miami flight was found to have stolen $10,000+ and two credit cards from fellow travelers. Fortunately the observant crew caught him, so he ended up being punished. This is a good reminder to always be observant, even in the cabin of a plane.

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