The most commonly mislaid articles are iPods, video games, sunglasses, children’s toys, and cellphones.
Getting your lost stuff back can be a challenge. Once you leave the secure area of the terminal, you can’t backtrack to retrieve what you left behind. The aircraft you flew on probably swiftly left the gate for another city, or perhaps it went in for maintenance.
And then there’s the people factor: A missing item might be discovered by the cabin crew, cleaning staff, caterers, maintenance workers, or fellow travelers. Your shiny new MP3 player or cellphone may just prove too tempting for someone’s sticky fingers.
Even if your lost item is turned in, it could be thousands of miles from where you landed. Before it makes its way to lost and found, that lost phone, DVD player or laptop could languish for a while at a gate, a ticket counter, or baggage claim area.
“Depending on who finds the item, it can be turned into either the local airport lost and found, US Airways lost and found or another carrier’s lost and found,” says US Airways representative Valerie Wunder. “Being able to determine who found it and where it was turned in is difficult.”
Airlines try to reunite passengers with their items gone astray, but they’re not liable for them. Lost articles are not like lost baggage: Carriers have no obligation to reimburse you for anything you’ve left behind. Consequently, it’s on the passenger to follow up with both the lost and found at their arrival airport and the central lost and found, but calling around can be an exercise in frustration.
After five days, all lost and found items get shipped from local airports to the US Airways central warehouse in Charlotte. “From the warehouse, all unclaimed items are boxed up and salvaged with the rest of our unclaimed luggage every three months,” says Wunder.
Here are three tips for if this happens to you:
• Carefully check the area around your seat, including the pocket in front of you—that’s where most people leave things behind—as well as the overhead bins before disembarking.
• File a claim immediately at the airport. Although airlines aren’t liable for articles you lose, they will create a claim in the system, including a description, to help reunite you with your possessions.
• Since smartphones potentially contain sensitive information, put a password on your phone, and consider installing security apps which can track down your phone or wipe its memory remotely