Tip: File a Police Report to Recover Items Left on a Plane

May 16, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Anyone who’s ever left something on a plane is likely familiar with that sinking feeling of realizing you’re missing the item once it’s too late.

That happened to me recently. Once home, I realized I left my Chinese New Year calligraphy and an ANA Star Wars paper plane in a bag on my final flight home. I filed a lost item report that night, but United never recovered the bag.

But my experience pales in comparison to TPG reader Danielle’s:

A few months ago, I flew from London to Miami and forgot an expensive Burberry coat on my American Airlines flight. I realized I did this right after I finished customs. I went to AA’s lost and found and explained what happened. They told me to file a lost and found order online. For days, I went the airport trying to talk to a human to help me find my coat. But nothing changed; I continued to receive emails stating the coat was lost.

Despite above-and-beyond persistence by Danielle, the coat remained at large. Then, she had a great idea:

I then realized that I should file a police report at the airport. The police took my case seriously and began searching for the coat via video footage. After a week or so, I was informed by the police that an AA flight attendant was caught on video taking my coat. She claims to have forgotten to drop the coat off at lost and found and conveniently kept it at her home for three weeks.

Sure enough, filing a police report quickly resolved the case and got Danielle her coat back shortly later. The resolution from AA was a lot slower and less impressive. After emailing back-and-forth about the situation, American Airlines’ customer relations finally offered a measly 10,000-mile compensation.

In our opinion, this is a downright insulting response from American Airlines to an elite customer whose property was improperly — to put it mildly — taken by a flight attendant. For comparison, 10,000 miles is what Delta sent my father (a Delta Silver elite) after a turbulent two-hour flight — and he didn’t even submit a complaint.

It’s one thing that AA didn’t recover the coat itself; after all, the airline could’ve given a good faith effort to find it. However, this is an insufficient response from the airline after police helped to recover a passenger’s property from the residence of one of its employees. The employee still faces potential legal action if Danielle decides to press charges.

First of all, excellent thinking by Danielle to file a police report. And kudos to the Miami-Dade Police Department for taking this report seriously and for quickly recovering Danielle’s coat.

Danielle’s advice if you find yourself in the same situation: “File a police report immediately as they will pull flight manifests and review video to track the missing items.”

What would you do if you were in Danielle’s situation?

Featured image courtesy of Thomas Barwick via Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.