Lost and found in Seattle

Krystyna Isaacs forgot to put her beloved necklace back on after a TSA screening at Seattle-Tacoma airport.

Twenty minutes later, while waiting to board her return flight to Dallas, she realized what she’d done and sprinted back to the screening checkpoint.

Maybe the TSA staff can help? Please.

But they really tried. And while the TSA rep couldn’t find it, someone else did — after Isaacs returned home to Coppell, Texas.

Unlike some other airports, Sea-Tac is run by the same Port of Seattle authority that is also in charge of the region’s water vessel commerce, including commercial shipping, cruise ships, and marinas — no menial task.

A monolithic entity of such proportions may seem impermeable to personalized customer assistance, especially from far away. And to their credit, perhaps they realized this potential bureaucratic shortcoming by contracting a partnership with the local YWCA to staff Sea-Tac’s efficiently run Lost and Found, rife with clear procedural details and something devoid of many problem resolution services — hope.

Yeah — that’s right. The YWCA.

What a creative idea. They even had a uniquely descriptive job announcement posted in January just for that position, heavily emphasizing personable and progressive quick-thinking people skills. In a perfect world one might assume such abilities to be universally self-evident, no matter what. But it is nice to see an organization explicitly requiring honed customer service expertise as a qualification.

And it paid off.

“I flew up to visit my dad on his farm on Camano Island north of Seattle,” began Isaacs. After her return trip home from Sea-Tac, she had what turned out to be “a wonderful experience of having a precious keepsake returned after losing it in the TSA security line”.

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“My teenage boys had bought me a necklace for Christmas and I forgot it in the bin. I wear it to think about them while looking after their grandpa.”

Been there and done that. If my kids gave me a rock, I would guard it with my life.

“I rushed back from the gate to the checkpoint before boarding, but it was nowhere to be found, although one of the TSA screeners really helped me look for it,” Isaacs lamented.

Good for you, TSA.

But no dice. After returning home, she filed her missing item report using Sea-Tac’s slick online form.

While Isaac’s wondered if the necklace was lost forever, her query sailed into the inbox of Jennifer Swartwood — YWCA’s crack Lost & Found rep at Sea-Tac.

Someone found it and turned it in. “The YWCA rep actually emailed and then called me to have me describe the distinctive necklace to confirm ownership,” added Isaacs.

“Then it was back home, safe and sound just a few days later!”

But wait … there’s more.

As efficient as the online claim process it, shipping expenses are clearly stated to be the responsibility of the item owner. And yet the rep shipped it back to Isaacs via regular airmail on Sea-Tac’s dime.

When a lost item that may seem minute to some, had a significance as massive as Sea-Tac itself, everyone Isaacs enlisted for assistance really cared, including the TSA (no snarkiness). Sometimes we need a reminder to hold the angst and sincerely ask for help to give people a chance to do what they do best.

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And lest we forget, a forever-anonymous necklace finder, rather than keep or ignore it, decided to take the time to make sure it got to the Lost and Found. Maybe it was another TSA worker. Maybe it was a traveler who reused the tray with the unnoticed necklace still in it. Perhaps the finder had their own cherished gift from a loved one.

We will never know, and we don’t need to, because a little karma never hurt anyone. So don’t ever forget the thank-you letter, whether answered or not, to pay it forward for the next loser of items. Even big conglomerates can be starving for a kind word.

“Wonderful service!” Isaacs concluded. “I think most airport workers have an incredibly stressful job with little recognition. I have written to Sea-Tac to let them know how happy I was and wanted to alert you too, just in case you want to slip in some kudos.”

You bet.

Andrew Der

Der is an environmental consultant and travel journalist specializing in water science, nature, eco-travel, and cultural destinations

  • AAGK

    Most impressive. There are still services that require humans who care enough to look up from their computer screen and fix a problem. I wish more customer service workers understood this.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    Kudos to the YWCA and SEA-TAC airport (and even to the TSA). I suspect these human decencies outnumber the well reported indecencies 10:1, but we don’t hear about them as much.

  • This seems like a genuinely customer-friendly system, and you might also look into how PDX handles it. Portland is known for having the nation’s best-liked airport. Internet everywhere, an ordinance that requires that airport prices be the same as in town (yet there is more available to buy there than at most of the unfriendly airports, so businesses obviously aren’t hurting). The city transit system comes right into the airport – how often do you see that even in transit-friendly cities? I don’t know how PDX does lost-and-found, but I bet they have come up with something user friendly.

  • Tom McShane


  • joycexyz

    How nice to hear good outcomes!

  • pauletteb

    Why did she take off her necklace in the first place? The only piece of jewelry other than my wristwatch I’ve ever had to remove was a quarter-inch-wide silver bangle. Most noble metals sail right through. Glad things turned out well though.

  • DChamp56

    Some people do still believe in doing the right thing…!

  • jsn55

    So happy to read this story, Andrew. I’ve never removed any jewelry before security and nobody has ever asked me to … how does this work? Or did she take it off on her own?

  • Thanks! I assumed it was for the same reason one has to empty pockets of change and remove belt due to buckle. So doesn’t indicate anything on scanner?

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