It is often in the news, and there are stern warnings at airports: carrying illegal drugs through an airport is a bad idea.

Since I occasionally fly through Singapore, I'm always worried my carry on luggage has been unattended for hours in my previous flight. Someone could have been tampering with it.

What's the best practice to avoid the risks of being found carrying illegal drugs in carry on luggage whilst in transit?

  • 2
    Why are you leaving your carry on luggage unattended?
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 0:49
  • 5
    @MJeffryes Because I sleep during the flight Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 0:52
  • 6
    So your concern is that a fellow passenger is going to slip drugs into your bag in the middle of the flight? Honestly, I think this is pretty far fetched. Why would they do it?
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 1:13
  • 7
    Lock your luggage. Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 3:53
  • 4
    I can see not wanting to get caught at customs, but then what does the drug-stasher do after that? "Hey, dude, stop for a second. I need to get something out of your luggage." This scenario makes no sense to me.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


By having carry on that you can lock so that no one can open it and slip things into your luggage you are avoiding this plain and simple.


The amount of drugs needed to make smuggling worthwhile is pretty significant — as in, you’d-notice-it significant. Drug mules are cheap and disposable so doing anything elaborate isn’t really worth it. As long as you the innocent traveler keep your bags zipped up and locked and you don’t accept unknown packages, you should be good. Remember, trying to slip something surreptitiously into someone’s bag before customs and then retrieve it safely after customs is very high risk for little reward when a mule is cheaper, can carry more, and won’t go straight to the police (or trash can) if they discover a strange package in their backpack.

The way “innocent travelers” usually get caught up is that they travel to some drug source country for holidays and while there, they strike up a friendship or romance with a local.

On return, the local asks them to bring something back to their home country — a present for some family there. At the airport, they are given a suitcase or roll-on full of “presents” but told not to look inside so as to not spoil the fun.

At customs, “fun” ensues.

Especially if it’s at Dubai or Singapore, where their security agents and judiciary are especially “fun” people.

  • I think the use of the word 'fun' here is misplaced, certainly where it is used for the Dubai or Singapore part of the answer. (Many people do not get the snarky remark.)
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 15:44

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