5 Airport Scams to Avoid: From Parking Lot To Screening

common airport scams

As the travel industry started slowly to recover after the pandemic and airlines operate now more and more flights, suspicious activity has also increased.

Pickpockets, thieves, and con artists seem to be everywhere these days, but airports (especially large ones) are some of the best environments for them. The crowds, the luggage, and the people who pay attention to the information boards make the perfect scenario for someone with quick fingers and a lot of boldness.

So, to avoid a negative experience that will cloud your vacation, it’s best to be prepared in advance. Still, decent people don’t think like thieves, so finding the vulnerabilities in your travel setup is challenging. That’s why we had a chat with airport security specialists and learned about five of the most common airport scams travelers need to pay attention to.



1. The Bump Technique

This technique is a common trope in movies – the protagonist bumps into someone on the street and uses the few seconds of confusion to rob the person of their valuables (wallet, watch, phone, and so on).

Now, it seems impossible that someone in real life could do the same thing, right? As it turns out, the bump is quite common, especially in airports. Con artists will take advantage of tired or distracted travelers and use this technique to grab anything they can. And, before you realize it, they’ll disappear forever.



2. Parking Scams

If you go to the airport in your vehicle and want to park it there, make sure to employ the services of a legit parking business. Crooks populate airport parking lots and claim to be employees, offering to help with your luggage, ask for tips, or even redirect you to other ‘lots’ that are far from security and expose your car to significant risks.

airport parking

In the Houston area, you can easily find cheap parking online (you also get to see reviews from other users, which is helpful for your peace of mind).

Otherwise, you may end up with your car parked in an unsecured location or even missing!



3. Free WiFi

In today’s day and age, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t want WiFi access when they are forced to wait long hours for a flight. However, airport WiFi is expensive, so anyone would jump at the opportunity to connect with a free network.

But, before you thank your lucky stars for finding this gift from above, stop and think for a bit. Why would there be a free WiFi network in an airport where you usually have to pay for access?

The answer is simple – once you connect to that network, your phone and all its personal data will be scanned and copied via network spyware or other ill-intended software designed to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting users.



4. Security Screening Scam

The security screening point is designed to ensure a safe flight for everyone involved. However, it’s also a vulnerable spot for travelers since they have to put their belongings on the conveyor belt while they go through the scanner.

So, pay attention to the person in front of you. If they stall the line (by activating the scanner or simply moving slower than usual), they may do so intentionally. As the belt transports your belongings on the other side of the gate, it will be easy to snatch your laptop or even the carry-on and get lost in the crowd.



5. Rigged Scale

Although this trick happens very seldom, it was reported via Twitter to occur in Texas. Sometimes, even airport workers can trick you if they don’t like you since they know how to manipulate things in their favor.

For instance, the counter attendant may control the scale before weighing your luggage. As a result, even though you’re sure your bag fits in the specified weight limits, you’ll be asked to pay an overweight fee (which could be a hefty one).

Not every person you meet or bump into is a scammer or a con artist, but it’s best to be present at the moment and take precautions. Also, pay attention to other types of travel scams such as fake property or airline giveaways.



Travel Scams: How To Report

Let your family and friends know about these airport scams by distributing this material on your social media platforms. You can also officially report scammers and any other suspicious activity online to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) below:

Report To The FTC Here

How To Protect Yourself More

If you want to be the first to receive by email the most prevalent scams every week, then subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter. You’ll receive periodic emails – we promise not to spam.

Meanwhile, educate yourself with some other travel fraud-related articles right under this paragraph. Feel free to use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.

Airport Staged Shoplifting Scam

Airport Panhandler Scam


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