American Airlines lost and found
The 10 lessons I learned after leaving my iPad on a plane

Joan Weissgerber learned a lot of lessons after leaving her iPad behind on a plane. Among them, a distinctive lock screen can help you identify your device in lost and found. She uses a painting she made of her late Siamese, Schatzie. Courtesy of Joan Weissgerber

My husband and I had a very early departure from Charlotte to Boston on July 14th. When landing, we grabbed an early lunch in the airport before proceeding to pick up a rental car for the drive to the Cape.

We arrived at our hotel on the Cape Cod and I immediately realized that I didn’t have my iPad. “Where on earth did I last see it” repeatedly ran through my head. I called the car rental desk, then the restaurant, then American Airlines (AA). After much frustration with AA’s website, I contacted a customer service agent who graciously assisted me with needed phone numbers.read more American Airlines lost and found

My goal was to track that plane’s flight until my return flight on Sunday evening so I would be able to check each airport’s Lost & Found. The representative had no way to access the additional flight information for me.

First I filled out an AA on-line claim form, then called Logan’s AA Lost & Found. After 5 minutes, a gentleman named Michael told me they had my iPad. My gray-covered device blended right into the gray airplane seat. What a tremendous sense of relief.

Fast forward to our return Boston-to-Charlotte flight Sunday. We went to the AA lost and found office that Michael sent me to, only to be told “there is NO Michael that works here and we do NOT have your iPad.” What?!?! What they did have was loads of Kindles (I could not believe how many!), various types of tablets, phones, along with other non-electronics.

We got on the return flight and were surprised to be on the same plane we originally went to Boston on. We sat in the same emergency row with the same ripped tag and red strap hanging on the seats in front of us. Funny that I couldn’t remember my iPad but I sure could remember what the seats looked like in front of me.

We thought it best to check the AA Lost & Found Charlotte before heading home, and provided the agent with the Boston paperwork. The gentleman asked me to describe my screen and I described the painting of my beloved recently departed Siamese, Schatzie. He immediately came back and handed me MY iPad. With tears flowing, I headed home overjoyed, relieved and and surprised.

Here’s what I learned:

1. There are still honest people out there, so don’t give up if you lose an item.

2. Put your name and contact information on the device (phones, iPads, Kindles, etc) and on its respective case. My business card is now securely taped to iPad/case, along with my iPhone/case.

3. Have a unique screen saver, not one that is boiler-plate from manufacturer. That will allow you to immediately identify your device when found.

4. If you have a black or gray case, put some sort of bright tape on it so it doesn’t blend into a seat or surroundings.

5. It became evident that the feature “Find my iPhone/iPad” doesn’t function in “Airplane” mode, nor when the device is turned off, both of which my iPad was in. You can’t PING the device, nor broadcast a beep sound, nor will the “Lost” mode display until the “Airplane” mode is turned off and the device is on. If you have a security code to access the device, the “Lost” mode is never going to show until the device is accessible.American Airlines lost lost property

6. As soon as the wheels hit the tarmac on landing, turn “Airplane” Mode OFF and leave device ON (with hopes you have a full battery). You are no longer required to turn these devices off on airplanes but I was trying to save my battery life.

7. Make sure that all your precious photos and personal data is backed up (Cloud, etc). prior to your travel. I really can’t stress this enough.

8. Remember to save your boarding pass and note the gate number you came out of. Large airports have multiple lost and found departments per airline and they are split up based on arriving gate number.

9. If my iPad had not been returned in Charlotte, my plans were to track the specific locations the plane went to and call each lost and found where the plane landed. The website: www.FlightAware.com provides a comprehensive list of flight activity based on specific flight number.

10. Each airline, airport, and TSA have their own separate lost and found departments. Check the specific airport’s website for contact information to those departments.

Joan Weissgerber is a full-time artist after many years of analyzing artificial intelligence data. She and husband Frank live in Davidson.

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