Airline Passenger Charged with Stealing Over USD 22,000, Triggers Warning for Travelers

A Chinese national has been charged with the theft of over USD 22,000 in cash while on board a Scoot flight from Vietnam to Singapore. (Photo: Fairfax Media)

Starting a journey is exciting, yet a recent incident on a budget flight from Vietnam to Singapore serves as a cautionary tale, emphasizing the need for travelers to stay vigilant during air travel.

A 52-year-old Chinese national, Zhang Xiuqiang, is facing theft charges after allegedly stealing over USD 22,000 from three fellow passengers during a 2-hour flight from Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore on 16 December.

CNN reports that Zhang stole USD 123 from one passenger’s backpack, USD 20,988 from a black messenger bag of the second victim, and USD 1,700 from an envelope in a gray bag of the third traveler.

Scoot, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, confirmed it “was aware of an incident,” revealing that the cabin crew was alerted by a passenger, leading to the activation of the Airport Police Division. The implicated passengers were subsequently escorted off the aircraft for further investigation, while the disembarkation continued for the rest of the passengers.

Zhang has been remanded for police investigations and, if convicted, could face up to three years in jail, a fine, or both per charge. While Scoot could not provide further details, the airline has issued a warning to both crew and passengers to stay vigilant during flights.

“Our operating crew are trained to be vigilant and alert authorities of any suspicious behavior on board our flights,” Scoot stated. “We also advise our customers to safeguard their valuables at all times.”

Global concerns over in-flight thefts have heightened as similar cases continue to emerge. In Hong Kong, police issued a warning in October after uncovering a crime syndicate stealing credit cards from passengers during inbound flights. Meanwhile, a separate incident in Taiwan involved the arrest of a man in the same month for allegedly pilfering cash from a fellow passenger’s carry-on luggage during a flight from Tokyo to Taipei.