When I left my camera onboard on a United flight from San Francisco to Vancouver three years ago and miraculously recovered it, my family teased me for weeks about my penchant for leaving things behind on airplanes. While I vowed to never leave anything onboard an aircraft again, I’ve slipped several times since then. A couple weeks ago, in fact, I left my passport aboard a middle-of-the-night Armavia flight from Yerevan to Istanbul but was able to recover it shortly thereafter. My mother is funny–whenever I talk to her, she always admonishes me not to leave anything behind when I fly, every single trip. Well, last week she should have directed her sage advice at my brother instead.
My brother is an accountant and was on a long-term project in San Francisco which finally wrapped up last weekend. For the last several months, he’s been commuting down to Los Angeles on weekends, always flying Southwest Airlines (and for intra-California travel, I cannot blame him). Last Friday he was on a San Francisco – Los Angeles flight after a long day at the office and absent mindedly forgot that his iPad mini was in his seatback. Upon reaching LAX, he left the aircraft, collected his checked bag, drove home, had dinner, went to sleep, woke up, and it was only then that he realized he had left his iPad behind.
I have to give him props for being so calm about the whole thing–I would likely not have handled it so well. Though he immediately filed a report online with Southwest, he had already given up all hopes of seeing the ipad again.
I happened to be in Southern California last weekend and suggested–knowing that Southwest tends to clean their aircraft after each flight–that he head down to LAX Saturday afternoon and stop by the Southwest baggage claim to inquire about his lost device. Southwest does not offer any lost and found telephone numbers and I was not even sure they had would speak to my brother, but the shot in the dark paid off.
Saturday afternoon he presented himself in the baggage claim office and mentioned that he had left his iPad onboard a Southwest flight the day before. After verifying flight details, the agent went into a back office and emerged a few minutes later empty-handed.
AGENT: Sorry sir, no ipod was found on your flight
BROTHER: Actually, it was an ipad
AGENT: Oh, in that case you may be in luck. Can you describe it?
BROTHER: Black, ipad mini, in a moleskine brown leather case.
AGENT: Be right back.
And she emerged with the ipad. My brother was elated!
I share this story to show that even if it is against protocol, it does not hurt to pay the baggage claim office a visit if you lose something of value. Don’t wait for telphone calls or e-mails back.
And I must say I am pleasantly surprised an honest passenger or crewmember turned in this nifty little electronic device, that would have so easily fit inside a bag, purse, or pocket…
Honesty: play it forward.