Travelers Beware-Drug mules.

Travelers Beware-Drug mules.

I recently wrote about theft on an airplane and got so many responses.  Today I’d like to discuss another aspect of air travel many do not consider.  As flight attendants, we knew to look out for the warning signs of drug mules, excessive sweating, refusal to eat or drink, or acting nervous.  I recently saw a post on social media where a lady shared the story of her interaction with a drug mule.  I like to write short insightful pieces, but I had to share this as is. This story is not my story, but I am sharing it because it is accurate and does happen.

COPIED (As was written by the unknown author without correction)

If you travel by air a lot, beware of over friendly chatty seat neighbours.

 The older lady comes and sits next to me inside the plane. She asked me to help her put her bag in the overhead luggage compartment. But a gentleman sitting across quickly came through. (I am not very tall and the overhead luggage compartment is something I try to avoid at all costs.

Immediately she sits down she strikes up a conversation.  She was very pleasant and well spoken.  So we chatted all through the flight to Dubai.

Suddenly, when the pilot announced that we were now proceeding to begin our descent into DXB, my good friend ‘developed’ stomach pains.  Me with my good heart, I pressed the stewards button, and the stewardess came to find out what the problem was.  I told her my seat mate was not feeling well.  And this lady, she suddenly began to address me as ‘my daughter’. The stewardess told me that there was nothing they could do except give her some painkillers and wait until we landed.  The pilot announced that we had a medical emergency on board and advised us all to stay calm.  My new friend was crying and sweating like crazy.  And she refused to let go of my hand… everyone assumed we knew each other. 

So we landed at DXB and the same gentleman who helped put up her luggage in  the overhead compartment removed her luggage.  But as he removed the luggage, he advised me to distance myself from this lady and make it clear to the cabin crew that we were NOT travelling together. He was a godsend!

So indeed, the cabin crew came and asked me if we were related, I categorically told them we had met on the plane.  I didn’t know her at all.  So we began to deplane and as I said goodbye she kept begging me to carry her handbag. I was so torn… but the gentleman looked me in the eye and emphatically shook his head.  He passed me a note telling me to let the cabin crew handle her. 

So I exit the aircraft and leave my ‘new friend’ to wait for the wheelchair and be handled by the cabin crew feeling very guilty. 

As we waited for our luggage to come through, I hear this commotion. My ‘new friend’ was running, trying to escape the cabin crew, having gotten out of the wheelchair! She left the stewardess with her handbag and just ran towards the exit with the rest of her hand luggage! Luckily the airport police were faster than her.  They got hold of her and brought her back in handcuffs. 

This lady starts calling out to me.. my daughter… my daughter!.. how could you do this to me….. that’s when I caught on.  She was carrying drugs and she was trying to implicate me!

Luckily for me, the gentleman who had helped her with her luggage came forward and told the airport police that me and her had just met on the plane.  The police took my passport and asked her to reveal my full names if it was true we were travelling together.  By God’s grace, I had not even told her my first name! I was still asked to follow the police to a little room where I was questioned extensively.  Where did I meet her?… where did I board…  where did she board. Etc… And my luggage was extensively searched and dusted for fingerprints. 

They dusted all her luggage and my fingerprints were not found anywhere on her luggage or on her handbag!

I was let go with advice never ever to touch anyone’s luggage either in flight or at the airport.  So from that day, I don’t care how much luggage you have, you will deal with it yourself.  I will not even offer you a trolley to put your luggage on! Your luggage… your problem….  is my policy.  And if you can’t reach the overhead compartment, and I am the nearest person, please call the cabin crew because all I will do is give you a blank stare and then look away!

A lesson to glean therein for intending air travelers.

COPIED.

Just as I wrote about theft on the airplane, I could not have relayed the dangers of being too friendly more pointedly.  Travelers should be relaxed and have fun, be nice, but most of all, be cautious.  I hope this story opens your eyes a bit.

Theft on an airplane.

Theft on an airplane.

Most travelers never stop to think of having their items stolen on board an airplane. I recently took a women’s safety awareness class.  The one thing that stood out to me is that most crimes are crimes of opportunity.  Although theft on the airplane is rare, it does occur.  In most cases, the person never realizes that they were victims until after the flight.  Unfortunately, flight crews can do very little if it happens in flight unless the person is caught red-handed.  Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when traveling to prevent your items from being stolen on the airplane.

Place luggage across from your seat

Many travelers like to place their carry-on luggage directly above their seats.  When you are seated on an aisle seat, you can usually see what happens when someone goes into the overhead bin.  However, when you are sitting in a middle or window seat, you cannot see your luggage if it is directly overhead.  Your items can be stolen right before you without you knowing it has happened.  When you place your luggage across from your seat, you will always see it and anyone that handles it.

Lock your carry-on

Travelers assume that they only must secure their checked luggage, and I would advise that you lock and protect your carry-on luggage as well.  Remember that overhead bin space is shared space, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to stow your carry-on items at or near your seat.  On most crowded flights, especially during holidays, overhead bin space gets full very quickly.

Make your bag easily identifiable

Many bags look alike, and some dishonest travelers take advantage of that fact.  If caught, their excuse is that they thought it was their bag.  Place something on your bag that makes it easily identifiable, like a brightly colored ribbon, sticker, or bag tag.  Anything that differentiates your luggage will discredit the excuse of unintentional handling of your carry-on luggage.

Stow your valuables well

Many people like to have their wallets or purses at hand.  Unfortunately, this can be a perfect crime of opportunity for a fellow traveler.  Once you are onboard an airplane, there is no need to have your purse or wallet out.  Most airlines now are cashless, so having a single credit card accessible is enough for most travelers.

Use common sense

If you go to the restroom, take your purse or wallet.  Men tend to remove their wallets or phones from their back pockets and place them in the seatback pocket, and women will leave their purses unattended to go to the restroom.  In both these cases, travelers leave the opportunity open to become victims of theft.  The person traveling next to you is usually a stranger.  You may never see them again in life, and it is not likely to get to know them well while onboard.  Even though your seatmate or fellow travelers can be friendly, always remember that they are strangers.

I hope you have never experienced any theft while onboard an airplane.  I have seen it happen, and I know it can happen.  Be careful and use your common sense. Have you ever given theft on the airplane a thought? As always, your comments are welcome.

Pin It on Pinterest