The captain of the aircraft allowed pursuing security officers to retrieve the stolen cosmetics but refused to hold the flight to allow for the thief's arrest.
In a similar incident on another airline, a second thief also escaped punishment thanks to the reluctance of the captain to delay takeoff, the meeting at Phuket International Airport heard.
The incident raised the issue of who has the authority to stop a flight and whether proper punishment of a criminal is deemed more important than a timely takeoff.
Last-minute thieves was just one of many issues discussed when airport authorities met with China-based airlines and tour operators today.
With tourism safety high on the agenda, the discussion swung to security with a report about the latest theft - which took place at 7.30am on October 16.
King Power duty free staff told Phuket airport security a theft of cosmetics had been detected and security camera footage pinpointed the passenger hurrying to board the waiting flight.
Security officers were at the plane's door within two minutes of the theft being detected.
Instead of allowing the security officials to enter the aircraft, the captain ordered cabin staff to retrieve the cosmetics, return them, and left it at that.
It was not the only time such an incident had occurred as Chinese passengers looked at the duty free items before heading home from Phuket, the meeting heard.
The names of the Chinese airlines involved were not disclosed.
Who has the power to order a flight to stop, a representative from Thai Air Orient wondered aloud.
''I do,'' said Kanputt Mungklasiri, Executive Vice president and Deputy General manager (Operations and Maitenance) at the airport.
''If it's a concern about security or safety, we certainly have the power to stop aircraft leaving Phuket.''
He chaired the meeting and said he planned to hold further talks with King Power to find a way of preventing thieves from escaping without punishment.
The behavior of Chinese tourists has been debated and heavily criticised in China, where news of the last-minute thieves is likely to bring further anger at the damage done to China's reputation abroad.
Representatives from Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and airlines based in Hainan, Juneyao, Shanghai and Sichuan were at the meeting.
Today's meeting was told that Phuket's new Terminal X, where most passengers from charter flights will be processed, will be open on January 1.