Do you leave your bags unattended in an airline lounge?

I’m curious where everyone stands on this. I’m sitting in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt at the moment, and overheard an older gentlemen say to his wife “you can leave your bags there, nobody would steal anything here.” It really got me thinking about my habits in lounges when it comes to keeping an eye on my bags. While I’ll almost always briefly leave my bags unattended if I’m just going to get something to eat from the buffet, my behavior varies otherwise depending on the lounge I’m in.

And I think I figured out my pattern, as subconscious as it might be — in international first class lounges I have no problem leaving my bags unattended, though in business class or domestic lounges I’ll keep an eye on my bags at all times. In other words, the Lufthansa First Class Terminal has a restaurant area, and when I go to have my meal I just leave my bag in the seating area without thinking twice about it.

I guess what I can’t quite figure out is why I think that way. Is it a function of first class lounges being less crowded than business class lounges, or is it a function of trusting the guests in the lounge more? I’m not sure…

Where do you stand? Do you leave your bags unattended in lounges? If so, is it a function of the type of lounge?

I’m off to have lunch in the restaurant. Please don’t touch the $9,000 in cash lying next to my carry-on, which I can’t even see. šŸ˜‰

Filed Under: Travel
  1. I rarely leave my carryons for more than a minute or two when I am in the lounge. I do love that the senator lounge in frankfurt has a locker for your bag, I wish all the other lounges would have something similar.

  2. Having had my Passport stolen once from the Red Carpet Club in SFO, I am usually very careful about what I leave. Luckily this was in the days before ID so I could get to DC to get a new one from the British Embassy.
    (For years my passport said ‘Issued – British Embassy, Washington’ and people thought I had some diplomatic tie!)

  3. Like you said for me depends on the same 3 factors. Size of the lounge, amount of other guests and type of guests.
    For instance, I’ll leave my bags (read laptopbag) unattend at the Amsterdam KLM schengen lounge and at London Skyteam lounge, as both (appear) to be relatively smaller in size and the guests appear to be more minding their own business, while staying at the Amsterdam KLM non-schengen lounge I’ll take my bags with me just because it is relatively large and has all types guests more busy with other guests and the lounge than enjoying the lounge.

  4. My comfort zone varies with the neighborhood- in the FCL/FCT in FRA we left our bags outside while we showered/bathed, but at the SkyClubs, I keep half an eye on by items when I’m heading to the bar.

    oh, and, FIRST COMMENT OF 2012!! šŸ™‚

  5. I donĀ“t like leaving my luggage unattended for too long. If I get some food or go to the restrooms quickly IĀ“m fine with leaving it where I sit. If I want to take a shower IĀ“ll always take it with me.

    The type of the lounge (business/first) makes no difference.

  6. Oh, I would never leave my bag unattended ANYWHERE. There are thieves everywhere; even in the nicest lounges.

  7. In New York, they have a community service program called “Stop Lift” for people who have been found guilty of shoplifting. You’d be surprised at the range of people in this program. It doesn’t matter which lounge I’m in, thieves exist in all shapes and sizes. I always take my wallet, phone, and keys with me, since they’re the items that matter most to me. I leave all other things unattended in lounges and just pray that its safe.

  8. I used to be very lax about tending to my belongings in airline lounges. For the same reasons as you, thinking the clientele was just like me so could be trusted.

    But to Latimer’s point, I was wrong. I had my travel wallet was taken from an end table while I stepped away. I didn’t notice it was missing until I was ready to leave. The gentleman (?) sitting across from me was staring at me the whole time, it does make me wonder. My passport was the only real item in there along with all my frequent flyer related cards.

    I now keep my laptop bag with me at all times, but do leave my carry-on unattended. They can have my underwear if they really need it that bad. šŸ™‚

  9. My eyes were opened when I read a board post from an F passenger who reported that something was stolen from her while she used the lav. Made me realize that I was entirely too trusting. I’m with @Latimer on this one now.

  10. I am kind of relieved reading these comments.
    I used to think that people in the lounge were like me so they would not steal, but nevertheless I did not leave my bags unattended (most of the time) and always had the most valuable things with me (i.e. wallet and phone, the laptop was too cumbersome to take it with me to the washroom for example), but all these precautionary measures seemed too paranoid even for me.

  11. I might leave my carry on unattended, just long enough to go to the buffet. Depends on how crowded the lounge is. Never a wallet, cellphone, laptop.

  12. Sad to say, but Lucky if you continue your habits you will one day be a victim.

    I am amazed at how many times in a lounge or in the terminal some complete stranger will ask me to watch their items while they go to the restroom. Guess I look trustworthy.

    I am with the others above – keep your own eye on things.

  13. I don’t leave small items laying around, but I don’t hesitate to walk to the bar or restroom for a few minutes and leave my bags at my chair.

  14. Being a guy, I always have my wallet and passport in my pockets.

    I don’t worry much about my carry-on, because it’s really ratty looking. My hope is that no self-respecting thief would take it.

  15. I’ll leave my bag – with valuables removed and in something attached to me – unattended to go to the buffet and get something. But not for any longer.

    I learned at my office that even a semi-secure facility full of well-paid, older, “professional” types, theft still happens. Someone had an i-pod stolen. I even experienced theft of Girl Scout Cookies. I had sold the cookies to my co-workers on behalf of my daughter, and left stacks of them on my desk to distribute. Someone who either stayed late or arrived early, stole several boxes. You just never know.

  16. I’d be less concerned about theft than about people introducing contraband into your bag to get them through security.

    It’s very easy to slip a package of drugs (for instance) into a side pouch of a bag, have you obliviously carry it onto the aircraft (and bear the risk of being busted with it) and then have an accomplice (often a crewmember) retrieve it from the bag once on board.

    A former associate is presently serving 5 years at Her Majesty’s pleasure for his involvement in a similar scheme at Gatwick. In most cases, the passengers whose baggage was used as the conduit didn’t even suspect that something was amiss.

    You should never leave your bag outside your immediate field of vision.

  17. I’ve been 100% trusting of the club crowd, but do always take my wallet & phone. Will at times be working on my laptop, lower the screen & put it on my chair to go use the restroom, but might reconsider after reading some of these comments.

    I do leave my travel wallet in my bag at my chair, too, and boy would I hate that to disappear. Will definitely be more conservative & watchful this year.

  18. Leaving bags unattended in a lounge? WHAT? Shhh, because once TSA finds out they’ll soon start patrols to keep us all safe!!! šŸ˜‰

  19. Anyone who leaves anything unattended at an airport is asking for trouble , I do not care what stranger you ask to watch your possession or for how short a time it will be left alone. I assume we all lock our doors at home even though we like and trust or neighbors. — be safe not sorry

  20. I have left my bags at UA F in SFo intl terminal and gone for a day trip to see the city. I have left my bags at FCT (not FCL) and gone to see Frankfurt during a 12 h layover.
    At other places, I guess not. In both, my bags were locked (I know anyone can open them) and the attendants knew. I was also 1 of 3 expected pax at UA F.

  21. For me, it depends heavily on which lounge. Some places, I leave my iPad out…others I’m not sure I’d leave my drink unattended.

  22. I will leave my carry-on briefly unattended because they can have my clothes. But my backpack, which has all of my valuables, stays with me at all times.

    Also be advised people steal from the overhead bins as well, so use caution in flight.

  23. Having been the only person (besides the staff) in the SYD SilverKris business lounge the other day, I had no problem having my back turned to my belongings occasionally.

    Otherwise, at a minimum, my wallet, passport, boarding pass, keys, and cell phone are coming with me.

  24. I have no problems leaving anything unattended in someone like the lufthansa first class lounge simply because there is not another passenger in there that doesn’t have 100x more money than I do and wouldn’t find anything I have of any value (even my credit cards wouldn’t cover a first class ticket on lufthansa!!)

    regarding the earlier comment about people asking you to watch things… there was some psych test done on this… not sure what it was trying to prove or the methodology, but the upshot was that by asking someone to keep an eye on your things you give them personal responsibility, and they will always intervene if something untoward happens (for example, questioning why someone is taking something they have been tasked to look after…)

  25. No way. My bag does not leave my sight. I take it with me to eat, and I wheel it into the bathroom. Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me, although I was burgled numerous times living in Indiana. I’m catious always.

  26. Inside my carry-on I have a small bag with essentials like passport, cards, cash. I take this little bag with me and feel quite comfortable about leaving the carry-on itself in a lounge.

  27. What a pain to pack everything up and lug them around just to get a plate of food and a drink, or use the restroom. Especially when I’ve found a quiet spot in a crowded lounge that I know will be occupied by the time I return.

    Ben, Don’t any of these lounges have security cams in the common areas? I just assumed they did, and that the instant replay could be quickly viewed to identify the sticky fingers, if needed.

  28. I have left my carry-on luggage in a first class lounge at DXB all day long while exploring the city. OTOH, I have also carried my bag all day long for the same duration on another transit through Dubai. I will not make the mistake again of bringing it with me, because getting it back through security slowed me down getting back to my onward plane. I never felt like my bags were at risk leaving them in the lounge (I should point out that I put them in the ‘closet’ area close to the check-in counter, not out in the open by the seating, as if it belonged to someone who was otherwise enjoying the lounge at the time). Of course, YMMV.

  29. I am appalled to see so many posters here leave their bags out of the sight. While I assume most guests in lounges are like me, I wouldn’t risk any chance if there are “professionals” out there that can either take out or put in stuffs even when the chance is very small. Just think how much they need to spend to get in, not much really.

  30. I am pretty trusting, so I don’t have any problem leaving my bags out in a lounge while getting something to eat or drink. I would be concerned if I were to leave for more than a couple minutes- in that case it makes sense to ask the concierge / lounge angels where to put my stuff.

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