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Warning! Baggage theft at Frankfurt am Main airport

On July 16, I arrived 3 1/2 hours early for a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt am Main non-stop to Orlando, Florida. I watched the clerk place the white tags on the 2 bags that I checked. When I picked the bags up in Orlando, the white tags were missing. And, several items were missing from the duffle bag. It is not possible to put a lock it. If security had inspected the bag, they are suppose to place a notice in the bag. The amount was not large, but one of the items was my appointment book. Usually, I do not tke it out of the country, but granddaughter had 7 1/2 hours of brain surgery, and things were a bit upset before my departure. (She is recovering slowly but positively.) Anyway, I just put it into the bag because I did have time to copy addresses.

If you have a problem, please report and let's help put a stop to this. I understand the same type of theft was happening at JFK.


Posted by
122 posts

Are you sure it happened at Frankfurt?With the gun smuggling and other antics at Orlando, I would suspect it happened at Orlando.

Posted by
32265 posts


Thanks for the warning. I flew Milan/Frankfurt and Frankfurt/Vancouver recently also with Lufthansa but no problems with my luggage at that time (one Backpack, locked with a TSA Lock and this didn't appear to have been tampered with).

This is providing a bit more incentive for me to investigate the "one bag travel" approach so that I don't have to deal with checked luggage problems.


Posted by
9041 posts

I too wonder about where it took place and why you are placing the blame on Frankfurt when it could have just as easily happened in Orlando?

I am sorry that you lost items from your luggage as that is always sad, but placing blame where it may not be deserved is wrong. You really do not know where it happened.

When I first saw this thread, I thought you meant someone stole your bag while you were waiting at the airport!

Could you consider changing the title of your thread to reflect the situation? For example: Be aware that items can be stolen from your checked-in luggage.

Posted by
193 posts

Reason #654 to carry on your luggage if at all possible. Sorry for your misfortune, but that's why I only leave my luggage alone in my hotel room.

Posted by
2193 posts

While it’s possible this could have happened at FRA, chances are your baggage was pilfered in Orlando. It’s been widely reported that both airline workers and TSA employees steal from the luggage they handle in airports all over the U.S. In the case of the TSA, it’s usually individual employees “inspecting” individual bags. However, the authorities have arrested airline baggage handlers running huge crime rings in an almost organized crime fashion. I’m sure for every one arrested, there are ten more who aren’t caught. Check out USA Today for stories related to this topic. It’s not always possible to carry on…hard to get a business suit into a backpack. Still, I carry on every time I can and always do it with just a backpack when travelling to Europe for vacation. Carrying on helps alleviate concerns about lost, re-routed, stolen, damaged, etc. bags. And, I can get in and out of the airport more quickly. Never check anything you can’t live without.

Posted by
71 posts

Thank you all for your notes. Here is why I think that it happened in Frnakfurt.

First, I had been staying in Frankfurt, and this was a non-stop flight from Frankfurt to Orlando. Secondly, I checked in 3 1/2 hours early so there was plenty of time at the Frankfurt airport. Third, I do not think that TSA checks incoming international flights unless you are transferring to a flight in USA. Third, the bags came off the plane and into Customs very quickly in Orlando. I don't think there was time here. Last, I understand your points about carrying on bags, but I had been touring the Balkan peninsula for a month. The 2 days before the flight, I was in Frankfurt and completely repacked the night before the flight. I am a teacher and had purchased many books. It was too much for a carry-on. My students love the things that I am able to share with them from my trips.

Cheers! Ann

Posted by
2193 posts

Ann: Indeed, it’s possible that the theft occurred in Frankfurt, but it just as easily could have happened in Orlando. You really don’t know, and there’s a well-documented problem with this at many U.S. airports. Also, it seems to me that your hypothesis about the time required to pilfer items from your luggage on the Orlando end of the trip isn’t very strong. I’ve flown in and out of MCO more times than I care to recall, and I know that the luggage has to be transported from the concourses to the main terminal before being loaded onto the conveyors for subsequent retrieval in the A & B claim areas on the second floor. There are more people handling your luggage in this process than just the guys taking it out of the holds on the plane…plenty of opportunity for theft. Thieves don’t require much time. It’s also possible that your duffle bag simply opened and the items in question fell out…this happens with regularity. When it does, the handlers are instructed to put the items back and secure the bag. If they’re not sure where the goods came from, they’re supposed to place them in the airline’s lost and found. I feel for you, but I’m just not sure you have enough information to place the blame with FRA. Perhaps you could have shipped the books home and still carried on? I suppose that the general warning to fellow travelers is to be aware of the many drawbacks of checking luggage.

Posted by
1449 posts

Ann, it's possible it happened in Frankfurt. But pilfering of bags in the good `ol USA happens and hits the papers pretty regularly. Keep in mind that while your bag is being unloaded from the hold a couple of handlers are in there with absolutely nobody able to see them (except Superman, with X-ray vision that can see thru metal airplane walls). I can't imagine you getting off the plane and trhu customs in less than 15 minutes, and 20-30 is more typical. Plenty of time to riffle thru bags in the hold, or on the trolley as they trundle thru dark corridors in the airport.

Posted by
284 posts


Departure Airport: El Paso, TX
Lock: TSA
Arrival Airpot: Dallas-Ft. Worth
Lock: TSA

Luggage was riffled with items stolen. Neither TSA or airport security would accept responsibility.

Lesson learned: TSA locks do not prevent theft.

Never check anything that you can not afford to lose.

If you think Orlando and Frankfurt are bad, then you surely should seriously consider avoiding Miami.


Posted by
990 posts

I agree with those who try to carry-on whenever possible. Avoiding theft, the lost bag problem, and long waits at baggage carrousels makes checking a bag a bad idea. I just got back from 5 weeks in Europe with a single carry-on bag, and my trip was a mix of business and vacation time.

I lightened my load by sending back guidebooks and business materials three times during my trip as I no longer needed them. When I got to the post office to pick up my mail, the parcels were waiting for me.

Posted by
61 posts

Regardless of where it happened I think it is good that you reported it. The more people report things the more they may realize there is an issue.

My family has flown from Cleveland - Newark - Zurich and back on several occasions and had things break in their bags coming and going. They have all been things that could have broken on a regular flight, buy they were destroyed a little more than normal banging around on a flight. Toiletries that looked like they had been opened, gone through, and destoryed. Wine broken where the packaging looked like it had been opened. They could not do anything, but report it. Frustrating!