On Flying And Forgotten Items

I checked the seat pocket for the millionth time. I had the vague feeling that not as many items had come out as had been put in, but I could only feel the inflight magazine and duty free guide which belonged there. I’d retreived my phone, my sweets, my copy of Collective Hub Magazine. There was nothing else was there?

I departed the flight and followed the signs for connecting flights at Abu Dhabi airport. Going through security was a testing process. They were not open when our flight arrived from Sydney and when the staff did arrive they decided to open just one lane when our full flight had been told to form 2 queues. As each new person inched to the front a tussle over whose line was next would ensue – neither line being happy with their progress. The man behind me was practically riding my coattails; he clearly was not impressed with my British reserve. Finally, though, I made it through. My hand luggage went through the machine, I walked through the body scanner and not once did the guard look up from his iPhone.

Once in the departures hall on the other side I began to scope out a seat near a power point. There were sockets on the plane but having put my luggage in the overhead locker and being in a window seat next to a sleeping passenger there was no way I could get my cables out. I sat down to charge my phone and felt a sudden urge to recheck the contents of my bag. Passport, notebook, snacks… Didn’t I used to own a Kindle?

I’m a big proponent of the printed book. I love flicking the pages, the smell of new binding and putting the completed tome on my bookshelf for revisiting later. But when it comes to travelling I always pack my Kindle. I’d loaded it up with enough stories to get through flights to Australia and back and in particular had saved a copy of Frances M Thompson’s London Eyes: Short Stories especially for this journey. Except I had slept for most of the first flight and then left the plane without it.

I had about 2 hours until my next flight so decided to try and reclaim it. I went first to the information desk who recommended I visit the transfer desk. The transfer desk said I would have better luck at the new connections desk, but it was on the other side of security. Reluctantly, I took their advice and headed back the way I came.

At the new connections desk, the first desk passengers see when they come off a plane, the lady tried to take my passport and print me a new boarding pass. She was on the phone at the time so I awkwardly explained I had a boarding pass and it was a missing Kindle I was after. After a confused conversation about what a Kindle was she put down the phone and started to look into it. She explained that the cleaners often find lost items and take them to another desk in the airport but as I had an onward flight she would ring them and try and get it bought here instead. She took my old boarding pass and read out my seat number to a team member on the plane. They had found a tablet she said, but it wasn’t in my seat. I was advised to stay put, in the pre-security limbo land, until further news came through.

The next hour passed tensely with no further updates. The boarding time for my next flight was upon us but the ground team seemed unconcerned about timing. Something was on its way to me here, they said, if I could just stay put.

Time ticked away and I could wait no longer. The team had tried their best but I decided my onward flight was more important. They had one more idea though. A staff member was assigned to take me back through security (we jumped the queue and I passed the same man on his phone again) and he whisked me to the gate my previous flight had landed in. Calls were made to the aircraft. Someone is on his way, he said.

By this time my flight to London was supposed to be boarding. Have a seat, said the new man assigned to me, I think your Kindle is coming.

Sensing my unease the man chatted to me kindly. He pointed out the new airport they have begun building at Abu Dhabi and told me about what would be coming (lots of tax free shopping apparently). I apologised for the inconvenience my forgetfulness had caused. He said, don’t worry, at least you remembered your passport. He told me last week a man walked off the plane without his whole bag. I felt a little better after that.

With just minutes to spare before my second flight was due to depart a cleaner casually appeared at the gate before us. In his hands he had not one but 2 tablets. I pressed the on button on the first one he proffered, London Eyes opened before me.

It’s mine, I squealed and thanked him profusely. A form was signed, my goods handed over and I ran to my new flight’s gate, which was now definitely boarding. I was dying for a drink, could have done with using the toilet but at least I had back my stories.

I read my Kindle for several hours on the next leg of the journey, the enjoyment enhanced because of those few hours I’d been without it.

It wasn’t the most relaxing flight connection I’ve ever experienced, but all turned out well in the end. If anyone from Etihad Abu Dhabi ground staff reads this thanks very much to all of you.

Have you ever left something on a plane, train or automobile? Were you able to get it back?

Ps Frankie I love your London Eyes: Short Stories! A full review will follow shortly.

About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

14 thoughts on “On Flying And Forgotten Items”

  1. One time I almost left my passport behind! We had just boarded the flight, were all seated and ready for take off when an announcement was made. The plane would not be taking off and we would all have to disembark (something about a tank tropical fish being stored in the baggage hold which had then leaked, meaning the plane wasn’t allowed to take off… it was all a bit strange). I had placed my travel wallet (containing my passport) in the seat pocket and in all the confusion I forgot to take it back out. It was only with a last glance at the seat while I was walking out that I noticed it still there. What a disaster that would have been if I had forgotten it!

    Other than that, I left my phone charging cable behind on a plane once and didn’t realise until well after I’d left the airport – at least that was easy and inexpensive to replace.

  2. I travel quite a bit and I’m a careful, check-it-three-times kind of person. Nevertheless, I recently made the most horrendous and costly rookie error.

    I was on fun hop and skip around the US and was mighty chuffed to have scored a cheap business class seat on an internal flight from Washington to Dallas. But business class seat pockets are deeper than economy… and I couldn’t wait to get away from the foot-tapping, teeth-grinding golf-magazine-reading guy sitting next to me who I’d been staring out of the window to avoid making eye contact with… so I hightailed it off the plane after just a quick glance to check I had everything with me.

    One transit ride to the next terminal to catch my connecting flight to Santa Fe later, I suddenly felt like my bag was too light, and then had to sit down as realisation hit. In my fancy-schmancy business seat pocket, I had somehow managed to leave not only my Kindle but my iPad too, even though both were in hard cases of bright cheerful colour. I still feel sick every time I remember this moment. Long story short, transit ride back to the gate I’d arrived at, hysterical wittering at woman on desk, colour draining out of face on being told plane had ALREADY departed somewhere else and nothing had been handed in, manic phoning round lost property departments at great cost on my UK mobile, eventual tearful embarkation onto Santa Fe flight without Kindle and iPad.

    Thank goodness for smartphones. Neither Kindle nor iPad turned up for the duration of my trip so the multi-function phone was a godsend and stopped me feeling totally disconnected. I’d love to tell you that both my beloved devices were eventually returned to me once I got home, but it didn’t happen. (And boo to American Airlines, whose customer service in such matters isn’t great.) It was a bogstandard Kindle and an oldish iPad 2, but they had my stuff on them and I hate to think of either of them in someone else’s hands. (Maybe they’re still in that deep, cavernous seat pocket though, traversing America.) They were both codelocked though, and there have been no instances of anyone attempting to get into any of my now password-changed accounts.

    Moral(s) of the story:
    Never be complacent because you travel a lot. We can all get distracted. Check the seat pocket properly, every time. ESPECIALLY in the posh seats.
    Have tracing set up on your tablet. I didn’t. I don’t know why.
    If you do lose your Kindle, contact Amazon. They can deregister it for you, so at least any thieving gits can’t read your books.
    Have gadget insurance. Keep receipts – you’ll need them to claim. I had the first, but not the second…
    Finally, have a really wonderful partner, who will buy you a lovely new replacement Kindle and an even lovelier new iPad Mini for your birthday. This is the only piece of luck I have to recount in this genuinely still horrifying to remember tale.

    Sorry to rant on, Jayne, but this really struck a chord! May everyone learn from my utter idiocy.

    • O kate! I feel for you! I can just imagine the shine of the business class experience being totally ruined by this loss. At least your items were password protected – my Kindle isn’t and I have it connected to many of my accounts so I was desperately trying to change my passwords via my phone during the time I didn’t know if I was getting it back. Your partner sounds like a hero though 😉

  3. This post was actually enlightening. I’ve never left anything on a plane, but I think that if I would I wouldn’t even think about asking airport personnel. I’d probably just cut my losses and go. Which seems weird now I think about it, ha!

    • I almost did! If it weren’t for the fact that I’d left it unlocked I wouldn’t have even looked into it – glad I did though. I once left a phone in the seat pocket on Canada Air too and they called me to say it had been found after I filled out a lost property form.

  4. Phew, you got your Kindle back! That would have been horrifying.

    Probably a funny story from me, but after the plane landed from Fiji in LA, I was so disorientated after having just woken up on the flight. I didn’t even bother to check I had everything with me after all, I always have the golden rule NEVER to put anything in the seat pocket.

    Anyway, I knew something wasn’t right and it wasn’t until I got to the baggage claim when I realised what I was missing. People were staring at me funnily and with a grimace I looked down. I was missing a shoe.

    Not a pair of shoes. JUST ONE SHOE. I suddenly remembered that I kicked it off on the flight as my foot was really warm halfway through my sleep. In my sleepy state, I complete forgot to put it on.

    I was about to go to information when a crew passenger came to baggage claim and laughingly asked everyone if anyone was missing a shoe. People turned to me and all I could do was offer one raised hand above a red face.

    Moral of the story – don’t forget your ‘solemate!’

  5. I have yet to lose anything on a plane, partly due to luck and partly due to paranoia. But I used to work in a hotel that operated it’s own private airport shuttle service. One day at around 2pm one of our newly arrived guests came to the front desk with a passport they’d found in their room. After some frantic stalking of old reservations we found the flight details for the passport owner, they had 60 minutes until check in for their flight closed which would have been no problem had the airport not been a full 45 minutes away. What followed was a frantic drive through heavy traffic with constant phone updates on terminal and gate numbers while colleagues at the hotel made repeated attempts to contact both the guest and the airline to let them know the passport was on it’s way. But there was a happy ending and the passport made it to it’s very emotional owner with just minutes to spare.

  6. It’s not every day that something you forget will be returned to you, it’s nice to read stories like this, honest staffs really make passenger loyal to an airline, I hope every airline staffs are like this. After getting my US visa I will visit all the tourist spot there so i hope the staffs that the airline I’ll be taking are the same as the people the blogger met.


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