Etihad Airways seats
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Items Stolen Aboard Airplanes From Airlines?

“M y wife and I were in the last row of F. She had used her blanket and left it in a pile on the seat at the end of the flight. My blanket was unused and was still in the plastic wrapper on my seat. As we exited the plane, a bulkhead Y passenger picks up her blanket and carries it off the plane in full view. As we walked through the concourse, he continued to carry the blanket draped over his arm.”

This is what FlyerTalk member apeortdz claimed to have experienced on a recent flight from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale operated by American Airlines.

Fort Lauderdale? At the end of May? The air conditioning must truly be powerful to where the alleged thief was heading to need a blanket so desperately that he absconded with it.

Items Stolen Aboard Airplanes From Airlines?

Some items aboard airplanes are obviously available for passengers to keep — such as the in-flight magazine, for example, of which members of the flight crew encourage you to keep. Other items — such as the ash tray in the lavatory; the life vest from underneath the seat; or the yoke in the cockpit — are obviously not available for you to take with you…

…and then there are those items which may be obvious to you and me but not to passengers who seldom travel. Headphones are a good example: on one airline in particular, headphones are offered free of charge for all passengers on international flights to keep; while charged at a cost of two dollars to passengers seated in the economy class cabin on domestic flights within the United States. Travel on another airline on an international flight and you might find a set of headphones which offer decent quality sound — but you cannot keep them, as members of the flight crew scour the aisles collecting them towards the end of the flight to be used on future flights.

Pajamas offered in the premium class cabin aboard an airplane might be another example: do you take and keep them; or do you return them?

Although I personally have never seen members of the flight crew encourage passengers to take blankets or pillows — in fact, American Airlines back in 2010 charged eight dollars to purchase a blue fleece blanket and an inflatable neck pillow, packaged in a clear zippered pouch — could passengers who do not know any better be pardoned as committing a simple mistake where they did not know that blankets and pillows cannot be taken off of the airplane and are not complimentary as part of the airfare?

Passengers are not the only people to steal items from aboard an airplane. Rachel Trevor allegedly stole nearly 1,500 mini-bottles of liquor as a member of the flight crew employed by Delta Air Lines, according to this article written by Christopher Brennan for the New York Daily News.


One enterprising hotel property has a menu of room items placed on the desk of each room — such as $175.00 for a robe or ten dollars for a shoe horn — but with items such as blankets, pillows and other items pilfered from aboard airplanes, should airlines offer a similar “service”?

This is obviously not a problem of epic proportions, as passengers should be more concerned about taking prudent measures to prevent their own items from being lost or stolen both aboard airplanes and in hotels; but the stealing of such items as blankets and pillows — and even placards with important safety information — from aboard airplanes has occurred in the past.

I personally cannot understand what someone would want with a blanket or pillow from an airplane — even if it is from the premium class cabin for a transoceanic flight…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I really dont see where the problem is with keeping the airplane blanket. It comes sealed in a plastic bag, the airline is clearly not going to reuse them…

  2. When I first flew Virgin Atlantic (back when it was an aspirational airline and not a close-to-budget airline), they had some marvellous copywriting on a label on the blankets:

    This is a flying blanket.
    Please don’t let it walk.

  3. Have you ever seen that plush blanket they have on Etihad in first class long haul? So many times I have been tempted to toss one in my goodie bag. I’ve never mustered the courage to actually do it though. I asked the flight attendants a couple of times hopeing they would turn a blind eye (where do you get such a nice blanket etc) but no luck so far! Those blankets might be worth the embarrassment of getting caught but the crappy ones available on most US carriers would barely be useful to line my dog’s kennel.

  4. I have absconded said blankets. I wouldn’t really care to use a blanket previously used by someone as i’m sure they are not laundered. I put them clean into backpacks with water, food, hygiene products and some medical products to give to homeless people on the street. If nothing else but for them to have something to lay on.

  5. I have never stolen anything from a plane,Why do it. If you ask they (staff) just may say take it. I fly Qantas and have a very low f/flyer number. I do a lot of flying and have seen many people taking stuff that they will probably never use. So i pull them up on it and all i have ever received is abuse,however amazingly at least 80% are embarrassed enough to put the item back.
    Scott Deal

  6. I can think of one time I wanted the blanket from my flight: I had a long layover at DTW early one morning after a short red eye. I thought about “borrowing” the blanket I used on the flight to use in the airport too, but thought better of it. “Who takes these?” I thought to myself.

    I went to take a floor-nap in a quiet corner but found the concourse was mighty cold. So instead of a fitful nap I was kept awake, partly because it was cold but mostly because I couldn’t stop my mind from thinking over and over again, “I should’ve taken that blanket.”

    So there’s at least one reason to take a blanket.

  7. I always wondered if the airlines reuse/launder and repack the blankets. They seem so cheap like they are throw aways.

    All one has to do is look for airline stuff in eBay and you’ll find China, emergency cards, etc etc. They must lose a lot of stuff from theft.

  8. @James Cridland –

    “When I first flew Virgin Atlantic (back when it was an aspirational airline and not a close-to-budget airline)…”

    Sounds like you’re not familiar with Virgin Atlantic’s history.

    They started out as a one-class (cheap cheap discounted coach tickets) carrier and have always marked their coach offering based on price. The only thing “aspirational” might be their business class /”Upper Class.”

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