What you can & can’t steal from planes, hotels & cruise ships

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Slide 1 of 31: There’s a murky gray area between taking what's yours and downright stealing items from your hotel, airplane, or cruise ship. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not the perfect crime either: hotels, for instance, can and will deduct what you’ve taken from your credit card and airlines may fine you if they notice you’ve walked off with something you weren’t supposed to. Here’s a list of what you can and can’t take.
Slide 2 of 31: Free socks on a plane are arguably better than any free snack box, and you can safely steal them knowing no one else’s smelly feet have been in them. Our favorite: the free eye mask.
Slide 3 of 31: Firstly, why would you want to steal economy headphones? Secondly, in Premium Economy and above, you aren’t allowed to take them with you, sadly. For instance on American Airlines, flight attendants hand out Bose headphones in business class, and they keep track and know who’s used a pair, so you won't get away with it.
Slide 4 of 31: These come in handy if you need them for takeaway meals or eating on the go. Also, if the cutlery doesn't come in a sealed bag, any airline will assume that you’ve used them and likely bin them, even if you haven't. They're there for the taking.
Slide 5 of 31: Stealing cutlery or condiment holders such as salt and pepper shakers is a no-no (and this also applies on cruise ships when the walk from dining room to your cabin is minimal). In the end, the customer is the loser because any losses incurred by the company tend to manifest in penny-pinching elsewhere.
Slide 6 of 31: Unlike the minibar in hotels, the snack box on an airplane, which usually sits in the galley, is a glorious free-for-all. Maybe don’t tip the entire thing into your bag, but definitely hoard some of the crisps and chocolate bars for later.
Slide 7 of 31: Who knows why you’d want to steal a blanket that isn’t usually very nice and has been drooled on by countless other travelers, but a fair number of people like to pinch the blanket you get on an airplane. In business class, some have even been known to take the duvet.
Slide 8 of 31: Some airlines such as British Airways give you bottles of wine rather than pouring it straight into your glass. Some travelers will hoard a bottle or two for later, and that's perfectly fine.
Slide 9 of 31: This includes taking anything from the galley without permission. For instance, some passengers have been seen decanting the sparkling wine from premium economy galleys into a separate bottle, which is frankly just crass.
Slide 10 of 31: We're not sure why you’d want to, but if plastic tumblers are your thing, then filch away.
Slide 11 of 31: As much as you may get attached to the mugs in your hotel room or nice wine glasses on the plane, you can’t pop them in your bag to take home.
Slide 12 of 31: When it comes to hotel rooms, miniature bath products are fair game – as is pretty much any item you can use for showering, moisturizing or cleansing and is portable.
Slide 13 of 31: It’s not strictly outlawed, but unless you are taking extra teabags or sugar, it’s frowned upon to raid the housekeeping cart. The miniatures are designed for use within your room, on a daily basis, so no tipping an entire tray of shampoo into your bag on the way out.
Slide 14 of 31: You can wear them, snuggle in them and go to sleep in them, as long as they don’t leave the confines of your room. Some hotels have taken to writing notes on the hanger allowing you to purchase them, but be warned, they will charge your credit card if you take it with you without paying up first.
Slide 15 of 31: Yes, some travelers aren’t put off by the fact that thousands of people have slept on the same sheets, and happily stash them inside their suitcases. Don't do it, you'll pay the price (which is usually outrageous).
Slide 16 of 31: This is pretty much the only thing on your bed that you are allowed to consume or take home.
Slide 17 of 31: You might think it goes without saying that you can't steal the actual bed, but one lady was actually caught on CCTV trying to wedge a double mattress from a Premier Inn into the elevator. Needless to say, she was not successful. Why not just pop down to IKEA instead?
Slide 18 of 31: Often handy when you're on the go, toilet paper is usually fine to take, as well as tissues from the dispenser.
Slide 19 of 31: Unless it’s expressly part of the minibar, teabags and coffee provided are free to take. Be wary, though, when it comes to pricier items such as Nespresso pods as these may not be included.
Slide 20 of 31: It doesn’t matter how small the kettle is, you can’t pack it away to take home with you. Hairdryers usually aren’t a risk because they're often nailed to the wall (check out our humorous take on this and other hotel gripes here) but a surprising number of people will also attempt to steal lamps and other gadgets. Impressive if you get away with it, but still not legal.
Slide 21 of 31: This is a topic of contention, but stealing a magazine is to be expected because it’s for your consumption. Just don't take the entire pile with you.
Slide 22 of 31: If they are clearly there for you to write a message to loved ones back home, by all means, take them. You can also pin them on your fridge as a reminder (because let’s face it, who sends postcards these days?).
Slide 23 of 31: People have actually been known to unhook curtains from the room and stuff them into their suitcase. Just don't do it.
Slide 24 of 31: It seems a reasonable number of us believe it’s OK to nab the artwork or steal photo frames. As artwork – like curtains – are part of the interior decor of the room, it’s not allowed at all. Some people have been charged for items being removed.
Slide 25 of 31: Some hotels may leave you with a couple of stems of fresh flowers to welcome you to the room. You’re welcome to take these with you although we’d rather not imagine what they’ll look like after being stuffed into a sweaty carry-on.
Slide 26 of 31: Kudos to you if you have a plan to smuggle plant pots out, but we don’t advise it on the grounds that it is actual stealing.
Slide 27 of 31: Most hotels or cruise ships have notices saying you will be charged for taking full-sized products, so stick to just using them in your room. And it’s definitely frowned upon to steal the hand wash on a plane.
Slide 28 of 31: Cruise ship or hotel slippers are the only piece of clothing you can steal, and if you’re lucky to stay in a room with waffle fabric slippers and cushioning, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Slide 29 of 31: The most stolen item from hotels and cruise ships isn’t bathrobes, but towels. It’s so rife, that one man created a tracking device for linen being stolen from hotels, including towels.
Slide 30 of 31: Hotel and cruise ship stationery is perfectly fine to pilfer, but make sure you aren’t taking any of the leather binders the sheets may be tucked into. Similarly, pens are a gray area – most people take them, and so hotels that don’t want to lose money in this area tend to provide pencils.
Slide 31 of 31: 'Thou shalt not steal' says the Bible and yet a surprising number of people nick them from hotel rooms. Some hotels and cruise ships also have a wonderful, book sharing system whereby people can take books from a hobby room or library and add their own when they are finished. But it's definitely not OK to pack these books in your suitcase.

Travel etiquette explained

Can steal: The plane amenities kit

Can’t steal: Headphones

Can steal: Plastic cutlery

Can’t steal: Proper cutlery

Can steal: All the snacks

Can’t steal: The blanket

Can steal: Wine & miniatures

Can’t steal: Wine that isn’t given to you

Can steal: Plastic tumblers

Can’t steal: Mugs & glassware

Can steal: Hotel miniature bath products

Can’t steal: Products from the cleaning cart

Can’t steal: Bathrobes

Can’t steal: Bed linen

Can steal: Pillow mints

Can’t steal: The mattress

You might think it goes without saying that you can’t steal the actual bed, but one lady was actually caught on CCTV trying to wedge a double mattress from a Premier Inn into the elevator. Needless to say, she was not successful. Why not just pop down to IKEA instead?

Can steal: Toilet paper/tissues

Often handy when you’re on the go, toilet paper is usually fine to take, as well as tissues from the dispenser.

Can steal: Teabags/coffee/milk

Can’t steal: Electrical items

It doesn’t matter how small the kettle is, you can’t pack it away to take home with you. Hairdryers usually aren’t a risk because they’re often nailed to the wall (check out our humorous take on this and other hotel gripes here) but a surprising number of people will also attempt to steal lamps and other gadgets. Impressive if you get away with it, but still not legal.

Can steal: Magazines

Can steal: Postcards

If they are clearly there for you to write a message to loved ones back home, by all means, take them. You can also pin them on your fridge as a reminder (because let’s face it, who sends postcards these days?).

Can’t steal: Curtains

Can’t steal: Artwork

Can steal: Welcome flowers

Can’t steal: Plant pots

Can’t steal: Full-sized products

Can steal: Slippers

Can’t steal: Towels

The most stolen item from hotels and cruise ships isn’t bathrobes, but towels. It’s so rife, that one man created a tracking device for linen being stolen from hotels, including towels.

Can steal: Stationery

Can’t steal: Books

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