What to do if you leave something on the plane

Dec 28, 2019

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.

The plane taxis to the gate, the seat belt sign comes off, you gather up your belongings, your kids, your kids’ stuff, the stuff you dropped, etc. and try to get off the plane as quickly as possible. No matter how long the flight, for some reason (probably having to do with the 100+ people behind you also waiting to deplane), getting off the plane often becomes a harried and stressful experience.

Being stressed, tired or in a hurry are key ingredients for accidentally forgetting something important on the plane.

Once you realize you forget your phone, wallet, computer, the kids’ beloved toy, or some other essential item behind on the plane, it’s often too late to just turn around and head to your assigned row to retrieve it.

For more TPG news and tips delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

(Photo by Peter Bannan/ Getty Images)
(Photo by Peter Bannan/ Getty Images)

Recently, even actress and singer Mandy Moore fell victim to accidentally leaving an iPad on a flight home when she was already not feeling very well.

Unfortunately, my family has also had this scenario play out a few times, notably once when my mom forgot her iPad on a Frontier Airlines flight to Houston. Luckily, both Mandy my mom’s stories have happy endings thanks to both of them being very proactive in tracking down their lost items.

Here’s what to do if you forget something on the plane:

  • If you are still at the airport, go back to the gate ASAP and ask for help from the airline’s staff. You likely can’t get back on the plane yourself, but they can. Tell them exactly where you think it was left on the plane. The quicker you act, the easier it will be to get your item back.
  • Utilize Twitter to contact the airline and ask them to contact the gate to assist with getting your item. This really helped in Mandy’s case, but you don’t have to have 2 million followers to get help on Twitter.
  • If you don’t check with the airline while you are still at the airport, still contact the airline’s airport location where your item was likely offloaded to see if it is being stored locally.
  • If the item you left is something like a phone or iPad, track it using ‘Find My iPhone’ or similar to narrow down which city it may be in. Of course, it will run out of battery eventually, so do this sooner rather than later.
  • Contact the airline and find out its exact procedures for lost items. This will likely include filling out an online form such as these with Delta, United and American. You’ll then get updates from the airline in your inbox. If the item is found, you may be asked to pay for shipping charges to have it returned.

When my mom (Grandma Points) realized on the drive home from the airport a few years ago that she didn’t have her iPad, she immediately contacted Frontier’s customer service number. Sadly, it was closed for the night by the time she called, but she filled out the online Frontier lost and found form and waited for morning.

She called Frontier again the next day and was told that items left on a plane are returned to the city the flight originated in. From there, lost items are sent to corporate headquarters. However, she was told that some airports hold lost items a day or two before sending them back from where they came. 

Since it had been less than 24 hours since her flight, she was encouraged to head back to the Houston airport and ask the Frontier check-in counter for help. To her complete shock — they had her iPad!

Related: Best credit cards for booking airline tickets

lost ipad

Hopefully, you can be reunited with your forgotten item if this happens to you. But, if it doesn’t work out, you still might be able to rely on purchase protection for the lost item thanks to your credit card. If it was your cellphone that was left behind on the plane, you may have some protection based on the credit card that you use to pay the monthly bill. 

Have you ever left an item on a plane?  Were you able to get it back?

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.