Flight crew are responsible for our safety during travel, and they’re usually highly responsible. We trust them.
Because flight crew are trusted they get less scrutiny at security checkpoints and at immigration and customs. That makes them ideal mules.
- At one point 20% of Air Tahiti Nui flight attendants had been suspended for drug trafficking. That works better than planting drugs on passengers and trying to collect them later, though if 20% had gotten caught I wonder what the real percentage was.
- In 2011 Lufthansa flight attendants were arrested in a quantitative easing scheme. Out of circulation euro coins were sent to China to be melted down. The flight attendants brought back 63,000 pounds of these €1 and €2 coins over four years.
A Malaysia Airlines flight attendant was jailed prior to a London Heathrow – Kuala Lumpur flight after being found with about $192,000 in cash going through airport security.
After scanning his bags, security staff at Heathrow Terminal 4 called in Border Force officers, who found £100,000 cash in a roller bag and another £50,000 in his black suit carrier.
Swabs taken from the cash tested positive for cocaine. Aziz was arrested for money laundering.
The flight attendant explained he brought the cash with him to go shopping with — but was too tired after his inbound flight to do so. There were three problems with this story:
- Malaysia Airlines flight attendants don’t make so much more than their international counterparts.
- Bringing in the cash without declaring it is itself a crime.
- He had receipts on him showing that in fact he did go shopping during his layover.
He was sentenced to 12 months in prison for money laundering. Most of the time though crew carrying cash and other illicit items manage to do so unimpeded.
If insider trading were legal companies wouldn’t need to pay executives so much – they’d monetize their knowledge and in some cases might even pay the company for their positions. Maybe the same idea could be applied to flight attendants. Governments could turn a blind eye to smuggling, and that would solve airline revenue problems with employees bidding for their jobs.