First Class Trap: The perils of luxury travel

13th Jan 2011

While rare, random acts of violence are not wholly unexpected among British travellers while abroad, with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office continually warning holidaymakers to be on their guard wherever they are.

These warnings are, however, customarily ignored. Who wants to be looking over their shoulder while relaxing on a beach? But a spate of recent incidents has bought the dangers of travel – even to the rarefied air of luxury destinations – into sharper focus.

Pictured: Michaela McAreavey was murdered in Mauritius

Just this week Mauritius has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

More commonly perceived as an idyllic honeymoon destination in the Indian Ocean, the islands have been under the spotlight following the death of Michaela McAreavey.

The 27-year-old daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte was found murdered in her honeymoon hotel room on Monday, shattering the illusion that luxury travel can insulate holidaymakers from the outside world.

In this case police quickly apprehended three suspects – all of whom work for the hotel – with one subsequently implicating the others in the killing.

An investigation into the crime revealed a key card owned by Ms McAreavey was used to enter Room 1,025 at the Legends Hotel at 15:44 on the afternoon of her death.

However, the computer system at the hotel recorded another swipe card had been used to access the room just two minutes earlier, at 15:42, suggesting her death may have been the result of accidentally interrupting a burglary.

A worrying development among travellers who pay huge sums to escape such fears.

Ben and Catherine Mullany were murdered in idyllic Antigua


The case has parallels to that of Ben and Catherine Mullany who were murdered on the Caribbean island of Antigua in 2009.

The couple, both 31-years-old, were staying in a cottage at the Cocos Hotel when they were attacked in what local police described as a robbery gone wrong.

Of course, these were both isolated cases. Thousands of visitors enjoy trouble free breaks in Mauritius and Antigua every year. However, they not unprecedented.

Lucie R prayed on Air France passengers

Air France

Last year an Air France stewardess – known only as Lucie R – made headlines around the world after stealing tens of thousands of pounds in cash and jewellery from business class passengers.

The 47-year old hostess lulled passengers into a false sense of security as she catered for their every whim before relieving them of currency, luxury watches, jewels, chequebooks and credit cards.

Passengers on the Tokyo-Paris route were particularly vulnerable, as Lucie R preyed on Japanese travellers who reportedly carry large wads of cash.

To make matters worse, once the culprit was apprehended Air France washed its hands of the case saying it was only responsible for belongings checked in and stored in the hold.

Anything stolen on board was – apparently - a travel insurance matter.

Lessons Learned

The lesson to be learned?

Despite the infinitesimal chance of attack – financial, physical or otherwise – holidaymakers should take at least the same precautions while abroad as those taken at home. 

There are no guarantees, no matter how much you pay.



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