While South African Airways said it is aware of three incidents of in-flight theft, 11 more people have told News24 of falling victim to pilferers on the airline.
Users contacted News24 after Warren Becker spoke out when R30 000 in foreign currency was stolen from his bags on a flight from Johannesburg to Hong Kong.
Some have also claimed that the theft occurred after the lights were dimmed and that flight attendants did not show up again until morning.
Ruth Nalumango said when she flew with her daughter from Johannesburg to London in 2013, cabin crew seemed to have disappeared when the lights went down.
“I always take a cup of tea after dinner, the crew told me that they were done with duties until morning and they disappeared till early hours in the morning. I was so shocked,” Nalumango said.
SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali did not stipulate what SAA’s guidelines are as to how often cabin crew should walk the aisles during lights-out.
One News24 user who wished to remain anonymous said in his experience, SAA flight attendants are nowhere to be seen once the lights are dimmed on their flights, something he hasn’t seen when using other major airlines on long haul flights.
Another News24 user said she noticed that cash had been taken from her wallet which was inside her handbag after a flight from Munich, Germany, to Johannesburg.
Her handbag had been left in the overhead locker after being told by the flight attendant to put it there.
Five other users have also come forward, saying that money was taken on flights between Johannesburg and Hong Kong.
“As a night flight, I took a sleeping tablet and slept. On arrival in Hong Kong, when wanting to change foreign currency, I noted that most of my foreign currency had been stolen from my laptop bag,” Mark Levin said.
The other users also reported similar incidents happening to them on SAA flights between Johannesburg and New York and Abu Dhabi.
Tlali said the airline was aware of three incidents of theft in recent months.
Tlali said passengers were primarily responsible for their in-flight baggage. He did not respond to queries about who was responsible for goods taken while passengers were either not in their seats or were asleep.
Aviation expert, Vincent Lessing, said passengers could request that items be safeguarded or placed in a secure cabin facility. And if passengers feared that their goods had been tampered with, they could alert airplane staff, and police officials at the destination would take “proper steps… to arrest the guilty person/party”.
“Also, further to this, in some cases the pilot in command will announce that all passengers must remain seated until the police have finished escorting the parties/persons off the plane before they can commence disembarking.”
No one has been arrested for stealing from Becker and he has not been reimbursed yet.