Luggage Pilfering At Philippine Airports? Here’s How To Keep Your Belongings Safe While Traveling

While reports of laglag-bala at Philippine airports have died down, a growing number of instances of travelers losing valuables from luggage pilfering have been reported in the media.

Recently, a video circulated on Facebook showing a NAIA 3 attendant nicking money out of the luggage of an unknowing, distracted passenger at the final security check area. The offender was caught and fired from the job, thanks to the CCTV video.

How to Keep Your Belongings Safe While Traveling

This only serves as a reminder yet again, that we should always be extra vigilant with our belongings. And no, this doesn’t just apply in airports, but on all of our trips as well. Our first line of safety always lies in how prepared we actually are.

So how do you make it difficult for potential thieves to steal valuables from your luggages? Check out these four guidelines on precautions to take.

1. Do not leave loose wads of money inside your bag, whether they are hand-carried or checked in.

The guy who was robbed on the NAIA 3 CCTV video just gave us an example of what could happen if you do leave a wad of cash where it’s easy to get.

The airport personnel saw the money he had in what looked like a laptop bag from the luggage x-ray monitor. Now we don’t know what they said to convince him to open his bag for a checkup, but the video shows how the guy got distracted and how the money was taken out in a flash.

(Read: A First-Time OFW’s Guide: Things You Should Never Forget Before You Board Your Flight)

2. Observe the proper ways of getting through airport security checks.

Avoid getting distracted at the x-ray security area. Never let your guard down at airport security checks.

You will need to present your passport, ID, and airline ticket or boarding pass. Have these together within easy reach before you even get to the x-ray and body inspection area.

Remember that all metallic or electronic devices must be stowed inside your bag when you go past the x-ray machine. Pack your devices accordingly.

Also, remember to wear comfortable shoes. Most airports require you to take off your shoes and line them up past airport x-rays, too.

(Read: 7 Ways To Keep Your Luggage Safe While Traveling)

3. Follow airline rules and regulations.

Take note of your airline’s travel reminders. Usually called Check-In and Boarding Guidelines, or Pre-Flight Reminders, it may appear as a pop-up reminder after your online flight booking. It shows the things you’re NOT ALLOWED to carry in-flight.

Familiarize yourself with the do’s and don’ts so you’ll get through security smoothly.

Check the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Frequently Asked Questions webpage and you will see some important reminders that will help make your trip through security easier.

The page reminds passengers to “Pack all liquids into checked-in luggage.” Take special note of their ‘Liquids, Aerosols and Gels’ (LAGs) guidelines for carry-on baggage.

  • Liquid items should not be more than 100 mL/G
  • All containers must be placed in a transparent, one-liter plastic bag. Passengers are allowed only one plastic bag each.
  • Bags sealed with items such as sticky tape, rubber bands or ribbons will not be accepted.
  • Exceptions to the liquid items limit apply to baby milk or foods, medication, and special dietary requirements, which may need to be verified first at the screening/x-ray point. If you have more than 100mL of medicine in your carry-on bag, you will need to present your prescription/s to the security screening staff.
  • Retail liquid items, which are bought at the airport, e.g. Duty-Free, and h are “packed in sealed transparent Security Tamper-Evident Bags (STEBs) by airport/airline staff,” are also part of the rule exception.

You can always check in liquids that are more than 100mL.

There are also guidelines on tobacco products and liquor. Those coming from abroad may bring a maximum of two (2) reams of cigarette or two (2) tins of tobacco, and two (2) bottles of liquor or wine not more than one (1) liter per bottle. This may apply for Filipinos going out of the country, too. This rule also applies for check-in baggage.

Not following these guidelines may lead you to surrender some items at the Final Security Screening Checkpoint, until you’ve met the stipulated 100mL limit.

For more information about LAGs, visit the MIAA website.

4. Always keep an eye on your valuables.

There is a chance that you will be asked if your baggage can be checked for legitimate reasons, but you should always be alert.

Make sure you keep an eye on your valuables and you’re the one opening your bags. Know where each valuable is kept.

It would also help to check your belongings after the inspection just to see if there’s anything missing. Better know about it now than after getting to your destination.

And if you suspect that you’ve fallen victim to this pilfering modus operandi, call the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) hotlines below:

NAIA Terminal Hotlines

NAIA Terminal 1 Phone E-mail
Terminal Security & Safety +63 2 877-1109 local 2814
Passenger & Customer Relations +63 2 877-1109 local 3522/730
Lost and Found +63 2 877-1109 local 4253
NAIA Terminal 2 Phone E-mail
Terminal Security & Safety +63 2 877-1109 local 2268
Bureau of Immigration +63 2 879 6017 / +63 2 879 6018
Passenger & Customer Relations +632 877 1109 local 2212
Lost and Found +63 2 877 1109 local 2870
NAIA Terminal 3 Phone E-mail
Terminal Security & Safety +63.2.877-7888 local 8129
Passenger Assistance +63.2.877-7888 local 8224 or 8232
Passenger & Customer Relations +632 877 1109 local 2212
Lost and Found +63.2.877-7888 local 8139
NAIA Terminal 4 Phone E-mail
Terminal Security & Safety +63.2.404-7145
Passenger & Customer Relations +63.2.877-1109 local 3761
Lost and Found +63.2.877-7888 local 8139

What are your thoughts on the recent incidents of theft at NAIA? Share your thoughts in the comments.