Don’t Forget Your… The Most Common Airplane Lost and Found Items

When you fly, how much do you pay attention to the seat back pocket in front of you? It normally holds a safety information card, an inflight magazine and a white sick-sack. Well apparently, those three items aren’t enough to satisfy their insatiable hunger. Seatback pockets will eat anything and everything you place in them (aka Airplane Lost and Found Items). But that’s not all, the side and back of the seat cushions will also happily gobble up personal items as does the floor during take-off and landing. If you drop something as the plane is barreling down the runway (arriving or departing) your item will slide forward or backward and there is a good chance you will never see it again. I’m still not sure where things disappear to but they vanish, sometimes forever. That’s another reason to keep your things stowed during take off and landing.

Based on my experience as a flight attendant, here are some of the most popular items that disappear and reappear on airplanes.

1. Cell phones. These little communication tools are found in overhead bins, on the floor and everywhere in between. What’s a bummer is when you try calling your lost phone to track it down and it doesn’t ring because the plane is already into its next segment and is out of cell service range.

2. i-anything. iPad, iPod, iPhone, iTouch and anything similar by competitors are usually left in seatbacks. I’m guessing because the safety information cards and magazines nicely shield them from the last minute “Do I have everything?” scan.

3. Eye wear. Reading glasses to sunglasses to contact lens cases, they’re all left behind regularly. Maybe because the people can’t see where they put them.

4. Luggage. As I’ve mentioned before, people bring quite a bit of stuff on board so it’s should come as no surprise that they leave bags, backpacks, canes and umbrellas behind regularly. Luckily for most passengers their fellow seatmates tend to watch over each other and you’ll hear. “Wait! You forgot your (fill in the blank).”

5. Jewelry and watches. I’m not sure why men remove their Rolex watches (maybe for easier computer typing?) or women take off their earrings (more comfortable napping?) but they do. If you must, put your valuables in your personal bag.

6. Books and magazines. Just last week I had a little elderly lady ask if our plane had been to North Carolina earlier in the day. She was hoping her book was still on the plane. If there is one item you will likely never see again – after leaving it on a plane – it’s a book or magazine. These items are swooped-up by flight attendants and cleaning crews like beads at Mardi Gras. I learned my lesson a decade ago when I ran – yes, ran – all of the way to baggage claim to give a lady her nice, new hardcover book. She looked at me like I was crazy before saying, “I left that behind on purpose. I didn’t want to carry it around anymore.” From that moment, I never chased another passenger down for a book.

7. Toys. Kid electronics (such as Nintendo DS) are easily left behind like their grown-up counterparts, but anything meant for child entertainment or consumption is easily abandoned. Actually, that would make for a great scene in a Toy Story movie.

8. Diapers. Okay, this isn’t a lost-and-found item, but being that dirty diapers are left behind they count as a “don’t forget.” In other words… parents, please don’t do this. I worked with a flight attendant who chased a mom down the aisle saying, “You forgot your dirty diaper!” The lady replied that is was trash. The flight attendant responded, “Then that’s where it should go.” Please understand that seat back pockets are not trash cans.  I should add, this also goes for fast food cups, banana peels, yogurt cups, newspapers, and anything else you wish to dispose of during your flight. But especially diapers.

In my experience those are the most common lost and found items found on airplanes. The next time you fly, remember to check the seatback pocket, your seat cushion, the overhead bins, and the floor for any possible airplane lost and found items (you may find some cash!). In the meantime, have you ever left something valuable behind on an aircraft and did you get it back?

16 Responses to “Don’t Forget Your… The Most Common Airplane Lost and Found Items”

  1. 1
    Laura says:

    Though I would never leave something as gross as a dirty diaper in the seat-back pocket, I have to admit I am guilty as charged of leaving snack wrappers or drink bottles there. I guess I kind of thought that was protocol to signal that it needed to be picked. I’m glad to know I’ve been wrong, and I won’t do that anymore!

    • 1.1
      ColoradoGal says:

      Ack, me too = candy wrappers in the seatback. Will be more cognizant of handing them to FA when they come around to collect drink cups!

  2. 2
    Karon says:

    I am guilty of leaving behind newspapers and magazines, but I thought of it as “passing it along” to the next passenger. It didn’t occur to me that the cleaning crew would throw it away. Guess I’ll dispose of it myself next time.

  3. 3
    jamie says:

    I am so neurotic about not leaving garbage on planes. I’m the one waiting nervously for the FA to breeze by with the garbage bag in the moments before landing.

  4. 4

    I’m the one saying to my kids “look around” because this mom is NOT going to pay to replace a lost or mis-placed i-anything.

    Fun post.

  5. 5
    Seoexp says:

    Wonderful travel blog! I found lots of necessary info from your blog. Just bookmarked your blog for more explore!

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  6. 6

    Nice list! Most of those things would be VERY disappointing to figure out that you had lost

  7. 7

    What I want to know is- where do I buy discounted unclaimed Ipads?! :)

  8. 8

    I’d like to find out also where they sell or auction off the unclaimed items. That would be a great blog post for you!

  9. 9

    Oh, the dirty diaper…yuck.

  10. 10
    Jeremy Branham says:

    Yes, I agree it is easy to lose any of those especially in those seat pockets. However, I check my stuff numerous times before I leave. It’s not that I am that meticulous – I can be a bit disorganized at times so I am constantly double checking. To my knowledge, I don’t think I’ve left anything yet!

    However, I seriously don’t want to encounter a dirty diaper!

  11. 11
    AnitaMac says:

    That list is insane! I can see the iPad nicely tucking in behind the inflight magazine, but I check my purse 20 times before getting off to make sure I haven’t forgotten! The other one I have seen number of times is the passport – I see people get off the plane, only to try to fight their way back on against everyone getting off when they realize what they have forgotten! I can’t believe people would leave dirty diapers – that is just plain rude!

  12. 12
    Steve says:

    Interesting list – sometimes ona can’t imagine what people forget while traveling 😉
    Thx for sharing!

  13. 13
    Denise says:

    My husband left his cell phone in the seat pocket this winter on our flight from NYC to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He normally keeps it in his back pocket. He probably pulled it out when reminded to turn all devices off, and figured it was easier to put in the seat pocket than back into his own! Kudos to Continental Airways who had it in lost and found. We got it back when at the airport for our flight home!

  14. 14
    Amber says:

    One suggestion from a Mom who used to travel for business is to tape contact information onto the bottom of laptop or Ipad. Keep in mind you don’t want to leave to revealing contact information just in case the device was actually stolen. Usually it was a business card or I’ve seen people just write, “If found please call#xxx-xxx-xxxx” with their cell phone number listed.

  15. 15
    Jayanth Nadig says:

    You have said “The next time you fly, remember to check the seatback pocket” – I don’t want to do search and get a dirty diaper…..yuck

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