Emirates Flight Attendant Charged With Stealing $5000 From Passenger Wallets

Sometimes things are stolen during travel. Passengers steal bath amenities. TSA steals camera equipment. And United’s CEO steals sand from a beach. Airport lounge staff steal money. And people keep trying to steal American Airlines planes.

You have to stay alert when you travel. Watch your wallet when strolling down Las Ramblas in Barcelona. People will try to pick your pocket near the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

And other passengers may try to take your belongings from the overhead bin.

Usually though it is other passengers, rather than crew. However an Emirates flight steward is now charged with stealing about US$5000 from business class passengers. Three brothers went to check on their ailing father during a flight from Bangkok to Dubai, and they later discovered missing money from their wallets. Police claim that the crew member’s finger prints were on the wallets, and that once confronted with that evidence he confessed — although he has pleaded not guilty.

One of the brothers, 43, claimed to prosecutors that the incident happened after their father felt fatigued. “My brothers and I went to check on my father. When we returned to our seats, I discovered that Dh3,700 were missing from my wallet. My brothers also discovered that Dh14,800 in dollars and dirhams were missing from their wallets. We alerted the cabin supervisor who took us to the business class galley and took photos of the money that wasn’t stolen from our wallets. These had serial numbers that were in sequential order with the stolen banknotes. When the plane landed, police took our belongings to examine the fingerprints and they searched the plane, but the money wasn’t recovered,” he testified to prosecutors.

I’m inclined to be skeptical of this story. It wouldn’t surprise me that police side with an Emirati family prosperous enough to be flying together in business class over an Egyptian crew member. And it seems difficult to imagine how a crewmember could go through the wallets of three different people while they were up and about in the cabin without anyone noticing. And rather than being a clear science, fingerprinting relies tremendously on the judgment of the examiner.

Nonetheless don’t leave thousands of dollars lying around the cabin outside of your control.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. ‘fingerprinting relies tremendously on the judgment of the examiner.’ @Gary, is this thought leadership on forensic science? Just asking.

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