"In general, in-flight pickpocketing is a rare occurrence," said Allison Danziger, director of TripAdvisor's flight section. "While there have been a few high-profile cases recently, it is not a topic we hear about frequently from travelers."
"I've alerted travelers to multiple instances of theft by baggage handlers and airport employees -- but it's rare to see it occur in the air," Pecor said. "If you think about it from the perspective of a thief, there's little wonder why: Where are they going to escape to at 30,000 feet? And doesn't the airline have record of everyone on board? I think there's a much greater likelihood of theft taking place on the ground than in the air."
Seaney said the anecdotal evidence suggests it's a bigger problem on the ground.
"Don't forget that Arizona couple accused of simply driving up to airport baggage areas and helping themselves from the carousels," Seaney said. "I suggest packing light to save on bag fees and not worry about the bigger issue of checked baggage theft and not traveling with valuables. If you do have any valuables, including your passport, keep it on your person at all time and be aware that 30,000 feet isn't necessarily a safe zone."
The travel experts also suggest:
When selecting an overhead bin for your larger carry-on bags, choose the bin closest to your seat. Oftentimes, travelers will put their bags in the first open bin they can find, but the further away from your luggage you are, the harder it is to keep an eye on it.
Keep your wallet as close to your body as possible, such as in a pants pocket or inside jacket pocket. This way, even if you doze off during your flight, it will be hard for a pickpocket to steal it without alerting you to the situation. Even better: use a money belt.
Store any valuable items, like jewelry, electronics and money, in a smaller carry-on bag underneath the seat in front of you. Carry-on bags stored in the overhead bin are more easily accessible to would-be robbers.
Towards the end of your flight, be sure to check your pockets and carry-on bags for your valuables. If you find out something is missing, alert a flight attendant immediately. Since aircrafts are closed environments, it's much easier to determine the culprit while all passengers are together as opposed to after everyone has gotten off the flight.