An airline security expert, who requested anonymity, revealed some of the tricks that a number of baggage loaders working for different airlines at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), used to pilfer valuables from check-in luggage.
Most of the “magic” happens at the Naia baggage buildup and breakdown areas, where pieces of luggage are kept and sorted before being loaded on or unloaded from the aircraft, the source said.
“When we frisk baggage handlers, we make sure they do not have any pointed object on them, particularly ball pens,” he said, explaining that a pen could be inserted between the teeth of a baggage zipper to create a gap big enough for a hand to squeeze in. The zipper can easily be fixed later.
There are also baggage handlers who have what airline security personnel call “X-ray hands,” he said. “People who know that a piece of luggage contains valuables just by touching them.” These valuables are mostly gadgets, wallets or pouches.
There is also what is called “moonlighting,” which happens at night and involves cargo loaders of one airline crossing over to a neighboring airline at the Naia baggage breakdown or buildup area and volunteering their help so they can pilfer without being identified.
“As airline security personnel, we have to be alert and wary of these tricks and of new modus operandi that loaders who pilfer from check-in luggage can come up with,” he said.
His primary advice to passengers: Never put valuables inside your check-in baggage.