WATCH: Left Something Important on the Airplane? Here's How You Can Get It Back
It's never a good feeling to lose something valuable, but it's especially disappointing when you leave something behind on the plane. We've all been there. You tuck your iPod, book, or electronic device into the pocket of the seat in front of you and drift off to sleep. By the time the flight attendant gives her usual departure announcement and passengers race ahead of you to collect their bags from the overhead bin, you've completely forgotten about the device you left behind amid all the chaos. Oops.
In most cases, the odds of getting your personal belongings back are pretty grim. But there are a few things you can do to increase your (albeit slim) chances of retrieval. Once you've disembarked and realize you're missing that certain something, you've got to act immediately. As if flying weren't already a hassle, unfortunately, you'll also have to answer questions and fill out forms to get your precious items back. More specifically, here are the four steps you can take to beat the already impossible odds.
1. If you're still at airport, rush back to the arrival gate.
After departing the aircraft, there's still a slight chance your plane may still be at the gate for cleaning. You can also ask any airport employee to call over to the gate for you as well. Just tell the employee at the gate (or over the phone) your seat number, and he or she can go back to your assigned seat on the plane and try to locate your things. However, keep in mind, you won't be able to board and look for yourself, due to security restrictions.
2. No luck at the gate? Try the baggage claim office.
In the event that you don't notice right away that you've left something behind and you're still at the airport, head over to the airline's baggage claim office. Typically, lost items will be sent there once found on the plane. However, we advise going in person to report a claim directly, as opposed to calling on the phone and speaking to a representative. You can also report lost items online for the following airlines: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines.
Be prepared to answer questions pertaining to when the item was lost, a description of the item, your flight number, where you last saw the item, and your contact information. From there, if your things are found, you'll have three options: it can be shipped to you for a fee, held at the airport for pickup, or you can request the airline throw it away.
3. Keep following up on forms and reported claims.
Each airline has a different process when it comes to lost items. After reporting the lost item and filling out the required forms online, it's best to contact the lost-and-found department (if there is one) by phone to monitor the process. The customer service representative can update you on any information regarding your items.
4. Don't forget about trackers.
You can track an iPad, Mac laptop, or iPhone by using the app or "Find My iPhone" locator service to find its exact location. There's one exception, though: If your device was left on airplane mode, this feature will be disabled.