Here are a few insider tips for finding what you lost this summer

By | July 21st, 2013

Stuart Miles/Shutterstock
Stuart Miles/Shutterstock
Don’t lose it this summer. At least not the way Jennifer and Pat Mangold did when they stayed in the Florida Keys last August.

In their hurry to avoid holiday traffic, Mangold left her $680 in cash in their room at the Hampton Inn & Suites Islamorada.

“I didn’t realize this until we were 70 miles away in Key West, on a busy Labor Day weekend,” says Mangold, a nurse practitioner from Philadelphia. “I immediately took my phone out to call the Hampton Inn. I looked at my missed calls and found that they were trying to reach me.”

Turns out, a housekeeper had found the cash. The hotel overnighted it to Key West at no charge.

“We were more than grateful,” says Mangold.

Not every lost story has a happy ending, and although the travel industry doesn’t keep any meaningful statistics on the items travelers lose every year, my own experience as an advocate for travelers suggests that summer is high season for losses.

And unfortunately, the lost items often stay lost.

Consider what happened when Leslie Bonner left her Kindle on a recent Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu to San Francisco. Kindle readers are one of the most common misplaced items, and airlines have a procedure for tracking down the owners of these and other valuables. More on that in a minute.

“When I called the lost-and-found department the next day, a representative said, ‘You wouldn’t believe how many Kindles we have here,’ ” remembers Bonner, a retired college administrator from Merced, Calif. “The person I was talking to found it very amusing. I asked if they had one in a brown leather cover that had a built-in light, and she quickly answered ‘no.’ Now how did they know that, if they had so many, and she didn’t even take a second to look?”

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Her Kindle stayed lost.

“I have an iPad now, and you can bet it will never see a seat pocket on a flight,” Bonner adds.

With millions of Americans hitting the road this summer, I’m sure that this won’t be the only story I get about a lost item. Fortunately, you don’t have to become another statistic.

At a large hotel or a chain property, valuables that are left behind are normally logged into a lost-and-found database.

“If an item is found by hotel employees or other guests and is of a certain value,” it’s “placed in a secure location or a safe,” says John Wolf, a spokesman for Marriott International. “Guests are asked to identify and describe the lost property. When an item is claimed, the guest’s information is added to the log for our records.”

Hotel lost-and-found practices vary by state, country and hotel size. A smaller inn, for example, is unlikely to have a database and will keep unclaimed items in a box or a closet. But the process of tracking down your lost cellphone (Wolf says it’s the most common lost item at Marriott) or anything else you may leave behind is the same:

Contact the property as soon as possible and let it know which room you stayed in and when. Leave your contact information, too.

Car rental companies have a similar lost-and-found policy, according to Sharon Faulkner, the executive director of the American Car Rental Association. Normally, a company can track down the customer based on rental records, and a car rental location typically keeps lost items for at least six months. But reuniting drivers with their possessions is often a challenge.

“Problem is, people hide their valuables like cameras under the seats while vacationing and then forget them,” she says. “Sometimes we didn’t find them during prep and the customer would call weeks after their rental, because they would suddenly realize they’d forgotten their camera, their binoculars, the little purchased memory of a jar of jam, maple syrup, or seashells – all deeply pushed up under a seat to hide them from potential thieves.”

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By then, it’s often too late. The car rental company has sold or given away the item. So Faulkner offers the same advice as Marriott: Let the car rental location know about your loss as soon as possible.

At the airport, things can get a little complicated. It’s difficult to generalize about the procedures for claiming lost items, because each airport is governed by state and local laws.

“At one airport, they may be required to hold an unclaimed item for six months,” says Deborah McElroy, a spokeswoman for the Airports Council International-North America. “At another, they may have to hold it for a year. At another, 30 days. Three to six months is most common.”

If you’ve left something on a plane, here’s how it should work:

Found items are normally cataloged in a database and held at the airport for about two weeks. The process is fairly structured, with the airline noting which flight the item came off, the time, the date and a detailed description. Then the item is sent to a warehouse at the airline’s headquarters. So if you’re flying on Delta Air Lines, your missing iPad will be taken to Atlanta.

All along, employees are supposed to make an effort to reunite you with your property. That’s why it helps for you to include your name, phone number and address on items such as cameras, cellphones and laptop computers. If an item isn’t claimed after six months, it’s sold or discarded, according to a Delta spokesman. Most other major airlines share that policy.

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A common thread or two runs through the entire lost-and-found travel experience. The sooner you say something about your loss, the better the chances that you’ll get it back. Every hour something stays lost can count, because hotel rooms, rental cars and planes are cleaned regularly, or “turned” in industry parlance, which makes it more difficult to connect you with your missing object.

Attaching your name to a valuable item significantly increases the chance of recovery. Let’s just say that you don’t find a lot of name tags on merchandise at that legendary Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala., which every travel columnist I know has written about at least once.

I’ve been both impressed and disappointed by the travel industry’s lost-and-found procedures in my own travels. Impressed with the Waterfront Hotel in Oakland, Calif., for instance, when it sent our electric toothbrushes to our next hotel in Sacramento a few years ago without charging us. And with Delta, which found a copy of a Bill Cosby book I’d left in my seat pocket on a flight to Salt Lake City. It had been a Christmas present.

But I’m still waiting for that electric razor I left in my Breckenridge, Colo., hotel in March and for that fuzzy pillow my daughter abandoned on her flight to Atlanta last year. I’m not holding my breath.

Bottom line: If a travel “expert” can lose something on a trip, then it can happen to anyone. So this summer, keep a close eye on your stuff. And tag it.

Have you ever found something that was lost during your travels?

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  • I left my shoulder bag with my Ipad mini in it recently at a little store. Came back 20 mins later and it was there, held by the owner. This was in Saigon, Vietnam, so kind of a little miracle! Yay for honesty!

  • Guest

    I once left an iPod on a Delta flight. They never located it. I also left yet another iPod in a drawer at the Las Vegas Hilton and left it there when we switched rooms and didn’t realize it. That one is gone forever too.

  • EdB

    I had a rental car from Hertz start giving me problems. I had flown into the Boston airport and my final destination was about and hour away. When I contacted Hertz, they brought a new car out to me and towed the original one back. I had forgotten to take out a bag I had in the car. Later that day, I got a call from Hertz that they had located it and they drove it back out to me the next morning. That was true customer service.

  • frostysnowman

    My girls have had many a stuffed animal left in a hotel room returned to them. I left a digital camera in an Enterprise rental car and got it back. I once left a purse hook on a table at the character breakfast in the Polynesia hotel at Disney mailed back. I think the key to getting things back is to contact the hotel/restaurant/airline as soon as you realize you’ve forgotten something. This doesn’t always work, I’m sure, but it can help.
    Once I left an expensive watch at the security area in the ATL airport (forgot to take it out of the bin, never put a watch in a bin ever again after this). When I realized what I had done, I went back to get it but of course it was gone.

  • chickadee

    I left my iPhone in the lobby of a London hotel, and before I even knew it was lost, my sister called my husband and told him they had contacted her (she was the last person I’d called).

    I have also left down pillows and a digital camera in motel rooms and gotten them all back. I am sure this isn’t true for everyone, but I glad it seems to work for me because I apparently leave my possessions behind me fairly regularly….

  • BostonTravel

    Left a VERY expensive bottle of Jameson’s in the overhead bin of Aer Lingus flight to Boston. No identification on it.
    Called the next day, and it was waiting for me,
    Needless to say, I have raised a glass to Aer Lingus and the lovely Irish staff !

  • Annie M

    I once left a bag of souvenirs on a bus after an excursion on Royal Caribbean cruise. My husband said “forget it, they are gone”. Went to Guest Services the next day, they asked me to describe the items, I did and they handed over the bag.

    Never say never, there are honest people out there and it is always worth asking lost and found!

  • rwm

    I left an MP3 player in a hotel safe in London. I also left my eye glasses in a seatback pocket on a Southwest flight. In both cases, I got them back. But, I was proactive in reporting the items. In the first case, I phoned the hotel from LHR airport. They retrieved the item, had me identify it over the phone, and then they sent it Fed Ex to my home! In the second case, I notified a Southwest ticketing agent just as I was about to leave SJC airport. The agent phoned the arriving gate, and my glasses were retrieved.

  • tpajoy

    I left a bag of prescription medications at a Marriott Courtyard in Miami Beach. I was just recovering from surgery so there were pain killers, antibiotics and several bottles of different muscle relaxers. The entire bag was turned in, cataloged and returned to me immediately after I called the following day. I couldn’t believe it- in Miami Beach!!!

  • Mel65

    Hubby left a brand new tablet on our Princess cruise ship during disembarkation. It was in a black leather case and it just … blended into the banquette we were sitting in. We realized it on the bus to the airport when he went to pull it out and called immediately. As you can imagine, we never saw it again. But, I believe another passenger took possession of it, not an employee because we found the staff on board to be eminently honest and professional. Still… that was a $700 loss and it sucked. I hope that person feels that enjoying our family photos, some episodes of Big Bang Theory and Modern Family and a few games of angry birds is worth his/her integrity…. Ah well.

  • SunluvinGirl

    I lost my cell phone onboard a Delta flight and was connecting to an Alaska flight. I was sitting in my seat onboard the Alaska flight when the pilot came down the aisle asking for a person by my last name. I was stunned when he handed me my phone. The Delta employee that found it called the person that was my last call and asked whose phone it was then when she got the info looked up my reservation and found what flight I was on and they sent the phone to that gate. It was great customer service and I was so happy to get it back!

  • EdB

    Reading about all the lost tables and cellphone shows why it is important to help protect your device with security software like Lookout, Norton’s, or other type of programs that allow you to lock, erase and locate your device remotely. They are not 100% but can add some protection to personal data on them. For tablets, unless they have a cell connection, you have to wait until the connect to a WiFi signal before you can initiate the remote settings.

  • JimDavisHouston

    I bought a Coke at CLT, and boarded my plane. A gate agent came onboard and informed me that my wallet was at US Air lost & Found. Got to Houston, and filled out a report. they gave me a number for CLT Lost & Found Dept.
    I called CLT 4 times a day for 3 days, and got an answering machine. NO RETURN CALLS. I gave up & cancelled all Credit Cards, and replaced all contents. I expected to loose my Silver Money Clip with $60.00, but I thought they would at least help my with the wallet. Thanks for nothing, US Air.

  • bayareascott

    I find it interesting that most people who do NOT get their items back blame the company, rather than themselves for losing the item in the first place. Yep, everything is always somebody else’s fault!

  • LeeAnneClark

    A few days ago I wrote under another of Chris’s articles about an incident when US Air cancelled our flight, sent us to a hotel that didn’t have rooms, sent us back to the airport, back to another hotel…basically a nightmare night, made worse because I was traveling with my two young children so I had all of our bags to keep track of. At some point during this debacle I must have walked away from one of my carry-on bags, which contained a hand-made appliqued quilt top that I was in the process of finishing…literally a full year’s worth of work. Each quilt panel had been painstakingly pieced together into intricate patterns, with embroidered designs on each one, all done by hand.

    When I realized it was gone, I was devastated. I sat down on the floor and cried. But at that point we were finally boarding our flight, and I had no time to try to figure out where I’d left it – one of the hotels? One of the vans that transported us to and from the hotels? One of the waiting areas? No idea.

    The gate agent suggested I check with LAX’s Lost & Found, so when I got to my destination I called them…nobody was even willing to go and check. So I figured it was gone for good.

    Two weeks later I returned to LAX, and just on a whim I asked to see the lost and found area. They took me to a back room with shelves filled with electronic devices, cameras, books…and there was my bag, sitting on a shelf. I could NOT believe it!

    That quilt is now complete and hanging on a wall in my home, and every time I look at it I feel grateful that somebody had the presence of mind to hand it to someone who worked there.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Funny, I don’t see “blame”. What I see is disgust that a company had so little regard for their customer that they couldn’t be bothered to help them find something valuable. Or disgust that somebody was so dishonest that they would keep something that they knew belonged to someone else.

    Traveling can be chaotic and confusing, and it should be no surprise that people frequently leave things behind. It’s nobody’s “fault” – it’s an unfortunate thing that, due to the nature of travel, inevitably happens to some percentage of travelers. Companies that deal with travelers know this, and should have appropriate plans in place to help reunite their customers with their belongings. Those that don’t are displaying either poor customer service, or outright dishonesty (e.g. employees who keep left-behind valuables).

  • Joanne Esler Firby

    I have been going back and forth with the Marriott LAX since February regarding an item of my daughter’s that disappeared from our room during a trip there. While the house security agent I’ve been talking to has been very pleasant and competent-seeming, he never seems to “get back to me” when he says he will, so I have spent a lot of time on the phone. The latest development is that, despite the agent’s assurances, the hotel insurance has denied our claim, because it wasn’t “in the hotel’s control”, since we didn’t put it in the safe. Never mind that the only people in our room were my family and the hotel staff. When I reported it missing, before we even checked out, I didn’t want to be one of those people who immediately assumes that someone from the hotel took it, but I’m starting to think I’ve been shuffled aside because I was too nice and polite when I filed the report. I will be buying a replacement for her, and will keep trying with the hotel, but my biggest regret is not buying the item on our American Express card, which would have replaced it under its buyer’s protection policy.

    On the other hand, when the same daughter cleverly left her purse in the Globe Theatre in London, they messengered it to San Francisco at no charge to us, even though we offered to pay the shipping.

  • William_Leeper

    I was actually eating at a local restaurant on my way back from an overnight business trip, and had taken my company ball cap and sunglasses off and put them on the table. Being tired, I got up, paid, and headed for the truck. As I put the truck in gear, a bus boy knocks on my truck window…”mister, I think you forgot these.” That was awesome to know he took the time to try to find me.

  • Sadly, the tourism/hospitality industry seems to be rife with dishonest people. For every story I hear of an honest employee, I hear 10 more of dishonest ones.

    We went to Fort Bragg to see our sons come home from the war. When we left, our youngest had left his “woobie” (his “special” blanket) on the bed. We weren’t even 20 miles down the road when we discovered it missing. I was calling the hotel as we were turning around to go back to get it. By the time we got there, it was SO gone. Apparently, the maids wait for someone to check out and immediately go to the room for items mistakenly left behind.

    The hotel offered to replace the blanket but how do you replace a handmade blanket, with the child’s name and birthdate hand stitched into it, made by a woman (my mother) who’d died a year earlier? You can’t. How do people live with themselves stealing a blanket owned by a child?

  • Carchar

    I didn’t realize that my wallet with my cash had fallen to the floor when I was checking out of the Tower Lodge Motel in Invercargill, NZ. I discovered the loss as I was checking in for the first leg of my flights back to the U.S. Since there was only cash in that wallet, I continued to check in and then I called the motel. The front desk manager had already discovered my wallet. He had looked up my stay record and he had seen that I had made three local calls to the same number. That number belonged to the local that had been my chance room mate on my Antarctic expedition. The manager told me that he had called that number and that my room mate had picked up the wallet and was on her way to airport as we spoke. What a nice experience to remember!

  • Carchar

    I was in a Sea-Tac motel, when a hotel clerk knocked on my door. I hadn’t called him, so I was hesitant to open it. Through the door, he told me that the previous guest thought he had left his phone charger plugged into one of the outlets. Sure enough, I found it, so then I opened the door and handed to the clerk. So that was that guest’s lucky day.

  • ploughmud

    When in Portugal I could not find my beautiful wedding ring and had no idea where it was. Frantically we searched the room from top to bottom, no ring. We called the manager and the entire staff hunted for the ring. No ring. We called several other hotels looking for the ring. No ring. Finally we had to leave so we left all the information w the manager and very sadly left. About a half hour later a black car came speeding fast up beside us, we thought it was police. Well, it was the manager who held up his hand with my ring on his finger. WOW! So we went back to the hotel and thanked the house staff who found the ring in the bottom of the trash can in the room. The staff had emptied pistachio shells my husband had piled on top of my ring in a dish on the bedside table. When the staff emptied the dish into the trash can, it made a noise and she found the ring in the bottom of the trash can. They really went the extra mile for us. We thanked them for being so honest with a nice reward.

  • bayareascott

    You are commenting on one individual’s post. I am commenting on the endemic shirking of responsibility. Why do you blame some employees? (Which you do by calling them dishonest.) I think items that go missing are much more likely picked up by another traveler.

    Yes, traveling can be chaotic and confusing, which is why people should ideally have a plan for their belongings. You say that leaving your belongings behind is “nobody’s fault”? That’s ridiculous. If someone leaves their belongings behind, it is THEIR responsibility. If the business can find a way to get it back to them, then that is superlative customer service. Companies do have methods for handling lost and found items, but when that company involves huge airports (not airline specific) and airplanes that are constantly in motion around the globe, there are a lot of variables at play. It is not like leaving something in a store, or even a hotel room.

  • SteveST

    I think the issue is the apple products–let them out of your site for 30 seconds and they are gone. My son left his asus tablet on a Southwest flight–quickly returned to us–no problem (did have to pay for the shipping which is fair)

  • AgentSteve

    June 22, 2013. Upon disembarking Celebrity Cruise Line in Barcelona, one of my wife’s suitcases failed to show up, on the carousel. After nearly an hour, we filed a lost luggge form, with the terminal staff, who were very helpful and knowledgeable. Long story short, in less than two weeks, the suitcase was delivered to our home and nothing was missing. Kudos to the Barcelona staff and to the Celebity staff, who handled our situation.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I am curious to know the basis for your assertion that, ” I think items that go missing are much more likely picked up by another traveler. “

  • cahdoat

    my daughter left her ipod on flight from india=delta but i had registered it with boomerang and it had an id number a worker called the number and i got a call to meet them at our airport with a $10 reward…It worked

  • Regina Litman

    I’ve given up carrying an umbrella! I take the commuter rail system (SEPTA) in the Philadelphia area, and I’ve lost three umbrellas on the train. Their lost and found system didn’t have them. I’m guessing that umbrellas are the type of thing that, when left behind, someone else will make good use of them. One of the three times is excusable because I was escaping from a train that was on fire! I did make sure that I had the study materials for an exam I was planning to take the following week, though.

  • MarkKelling

    I have lost many things over the years when traveling. Mostly clothing, nothing I couldn’t live without. None of which was ever returned to me.

    The strangest thing was when I was staying at a Marriott in San Francisco. I placed several pairs of pants in a drawer. When I returned to the room in the evening, they were gone! Nothing else was touched in the room except everything placed in that one drawer was gone. I argued with the front desk for quite a while and they finally agreed to ask housekeeping about it. At first I was told that no one would take anything from the room if I had not checked out. Then they said I must have put them in a dry cleaning bag (I had not) so they were sent out but they had no record of this. Finally, two days later, the pants were back in my room folded up and stuffed into a grocery store bag sitting on the bed. No one at the hotel admitted to anything. I have not stayed at that hotel again.

    On my recent trip to France, I left a pair of jeans in my hotel room in Paris on purpose the day I checked out. They were worn out and I placed them on top of the trash can expecting the hotel to get the message that they were to be thrown away. At the end of my trip, we stayed in the same hotel again. My pants were waiting for me in the room. They were cleaned, pressed, and the rip that caused me to want to throw them out had been mended. And they charged me nothing for this.

  • jmtabb

    We had an ipod returned to us that my daughter had left in the seat pocket of a Frontier flight. She was certain that it was gone. I left a message with lost and found and there was a return message asking us to confirm the delivery address when we got back from our holiday.

    I think the fact that it was filled with kids music may have helped, but certainly a big part of getting anything returned is having an honest person find it to begin with…..

  • jim6555

    I once left a hard cover book in the seat pocket of a Southwest aircraft at HOU. The plane was being taken out of service because of a mechanical problem and we were moved to another aircraft at the adjoining gate. After I was seated in the replacement aircraft, I realized that the book was left behind. I made my way out of the aircraft and found the gate agent. She pointed out the window and I saw that that the original aircraft had been pushed back from the gate. She asked me if I remembered my seat number, I answered yes, 16F. Ten minutes later, our replacement aircraft was still on the ground and the boarding door was still open. I heard my name announced on the PA system with instructions for me to push my call button. I did so and within a few seconds, the gate agent appeared carrying my “lost” book. I never found out how Southwest Airlines was able to retrieve the book and get it to me so quickly. I was very impressed that they were able to do so.

  • TonyA_says

    Love your Avatar!

  • Ali

    I used to work for Enterprise at an airport branch. I took a call from a frantic woman who realized she had left her company-owned digital camera underneath a seat in the car she had returned a day earlier. I looked up her ticket and assured her that I would try to find it, but that the car had likely already been rented out. After some hunting, I actually did find the car and the camera was still under the seat. I called her back and she was overjoyed and said that her coworker was actually coming through the next day, so I made sure that the camera got back to the coworker then and she was eventually reunited with it. I was happy to help but thought nothing of it. About a week later, I was shocked to receive mail addressed to me at Enterprise, and it was a letter of thanks from that woman and included a Starbucks gift card! I was so surprised and, while it was certainly unnecessary on her part, I really appreciated her expression of gratitude.

  • Pegtoo

    Amazing. Of all the places you’re watch should be safe, it should be in a security area….but unfortunately we all know better. Sad.

  • Pegtoo

    The ONE TIME I didn’t do a walk thru of the hotel room before leaving – my son left his backpack with his ipad, DS and other toys. Called the hotel during the drive home. I didn’t dare get my hopes up. They found it, and sent it to me. I am still grateful.

  • ambrothe

    I own a small cabin rental company (that rents to groups of 10-14 guests), and when people contact us to report lost items, they usually don’t until days after departure. Often we have new guests arriving the day someone leaves, and we never bother current guests to go on a “search” for something left behind by previous guests – there are so many places in a home/lodge to leave something behind, and we would never want to inconvenience someone else’s privacy for the chance that something can be recovered. About half of the time, items are never found, either because a subsequent guest took them, they were too well hidden, another member of the original party picked it up, or the person who “forgot” later finds their item in their own luggage. Obviously this is a different scenario than leaving something on a plane or in a single hotel room, but it causes an expense for a company to have to search, recover, and return something to a guest who left it behind. We are not usually thanked for this service, it is just expected, and when we cannot recover something, guests can be very upset. We want to provide excellent customer service, but there has to be a level of responsibility as well on the part of the customer to collect their belongings before leaving.

  • EdB

    I still don’t see where this answers Carver’s question about the bias towards other travelers being the main culprit. I also find it interesting you didn’t include it being found by the cleaning crew and not turned in as a reason things are not found.

  • Rick

    My son left his backpack on a commuter train in California. It had a portable computer and some expensive textbooks in it. He called their lost and found and they said they didn’t have it. About six months later he was contacted through his school because a new employee decided to go through unclaimed items and found his name and the school name in one of the textbooks. The prior employee never bothered to try to find the owner. So, the system worked, sort of.

  • emanon256

    I left my pillow at a Residence Inn in Grand Junction, CO . I called and they knew I was the pillow guy and they had it and the front desk for me to pick up on my way home.

    I left my phone charger at a Homewood Sweets in Cambridge, MA and when I called they offered to FedEx it back to me at no cost.

    I left a book on a UA flight, and they would not allow me to re-board to get it, and they would not go get it, even though I knew which seat and had just left (This was in SLC). They said I had to call central lost and found and leave a message and I woudl get a call back only if it was found. I called, left a message, and I even said if it would be easier, just get me the page number that the bookmark was on, and I never heard back.

    I had items stolen out of my checked bag at a Hilton, and they refused to do anything. Chris got involved ans they made it right.

  • emanon256

    If the next guest is stealing things left behind by a previous guest, are they also steeling items that below to you as the owner?

  • emanon256

    Wow! That’s amazing about the pants. It reminded me that at one hotel I stayed at in NYC I had thrown out a pair of shoes. I got a call from the hotel staff telling me I left my shoes in the room and offering to make arrangements to send them to me. I told them I was throwing them out, and they asked if they could keep them. I was surprised, but told them to go ahead. They were so old the sole had finally cracked in half and was pinching me, so I couldn’t donate them, and they were not the type of shoe that can get re-soled.

  • madtad1

    An interesting statistic I read said that only about 30% of people activate the locking ability on their electronic devices. While it will not deter an experienced thief, it might stop the casual “hey, I just found me a new IPad” type of person. Also, my devices, when locked, display a message that says “If found, please call XXX.XXX.XXXX to return for a reward.” With the # being either my cell or my wife’s. Additionally, I put a small sticker with that message on the back of everything or inside the battery compartment.

    Once I left my wallet with all my credit cards and cash in the seatback pocket of a TAM flight within Brasil. By the time I realized it, they had already pulled back the stairs and were getting ready to push back. The gate agent radioed out to the plane, the pushed the stairs back and got my wallet, intact, and brought it over to me! That was above and beyond and I made sure to thank everyone and write a letter to TAM.

  • emanon256

    I totally forgot, I left an iPhone charger and cable in a hotel room in Maui, and I called and they told me that nothing was found in my room, and they can’t be bothered to look for it.

    I think the worst experience was when my father had a stroke. He was taken to the hospital by an ambulance. When I got there, he didn’t have his wallet and I could not find it in the room. I asked the staff, and kept getting told he didn’t have it when he came in, and that if he did they would have put it in the hospital safe under his name. I checked with security and there was nothing in the safe under his name. Within a few weeks his credit card and debit card started getting used, and the one of the banks, Wells Fargo, refused to do anything even though I had PoA. I had to work with an attorney and do a competency evaluation by someone approved by Wells Fargo. It was a nightmare. I had filed several lost and found claims with the hospital and a police report. Finally I got a call from the director of security at the hospital who said they found my dads wallet, and that it couldn’t have been stolen as it was turned into them when he was admitted and stored in their safe and that they had paperwork signed by my dad when he was admitted and they somehow missed it when looking before. I went in to pick it up, and it was in a sealed bag with paperwork taped to it stating it contained no cash and would be stored for safe keeping, only the date on the paperwork was actually the day before my dad had the stroke. Also, my dad always carries cash. So I believe someone who worked for the hospital took it, had their fun, and then filled out the paperwork later and left in in the safe so they would think it was overlooked. I told the security director it was the wrong date and he said he would look into it, I also told the police. I never heard back from either the hospital or the police on the matter.

  • ambrothe

    Yes, things that belong to the cabin are sometimes taken by guests (usually things like DVDs, board games, pots and pans, towels, etc, which are difficult to track). I assume that some guests also see no problem in taking home an iPad, phone charger, or digital camera left by a previous guest, as many of these items are never recovered. Guests leave one morning, another group comes the same afternoon, and the past guests don’t realize something is missing for a day or two. Usually, nothing is found when the current group leaves. Out of 10-14 people, it’s possible someone in the group doesn’t have a problem taking something that was left behind, particularly electronics.

    The reason I didn’t mention things found by the cleaning crew and not turned in is because the evidence, in our case, just isn’t there. We rent cabins in a rural area, the cleaning crew we employ have very little high-tech “needs” – none of them even have a smartphone. Just last week, I was able to recover an Apple TV for a guest that our cleaning crew had noticed left plugged into a TV and locked away until it could be retrieved. Even though I knew it was locked away, I didn’t confirm to the past guests that I had it in my possession until it actually was in my hands after the current guests left – we’ve had guests open the locked closet to get extra supplies, etc, and I don’t want people mad at our company for their items going missing, even when they left them behind in the first place.

    I’m not trying to place blame only on other travelers, even though I believe that sometimes missing items are picked up by the next guests. My biggest point is that the responsibility for leaving something behind begins and ends with the guest, and is not something that the travel company should be totally responsible for and expected to fix. While we try our best to reunite items to their rightful owners, it’s out of good will and not responsibility. Even when we are successful in reuniting items with their owners, it sometimes doesn’t satisfy the customer – but those stories are for another column another day.

  • jennj99738

    I once did leave my iPad on the seat in First Class on a United flight. I was the last one in the cabin and the door to the plane was mid plane so no passengers came through the First Class cabin after I left. The iPad never turned up and United made it very difficult to get ahold of anyone to even report it.

    Fast forward to Paris this past February. I unwittingly dropped my Nexus tablet at the turnstile at a Metro Station. I realized I lost it about 10 minutes later. Returned to the station attendant and lo and behold someone actually turned it in. I did get a very Parisian shake of the head (tsk tsk) when the attendant returned the tablet to me but I deserved it!

  • bayareascott

    LeeAnne started with the premise that a missing item has been taken by someone else by referencing “outright dishonesty” by referring to employees. For every employee, there are hundreds of travelers. If someone sees an item left behind, it is much more likely by sheer numbers that it is going to be found by another traveler.

  • JW

    My friend’s son left his ipod on a Delta flight, but it was engraved with his name. Delta tracked my friend down by connecting the childs frequent flier number with their phone number and called to arrange delivery. My friend didn’t even know the child had lost it!

  • ricardo

    I left my Ipad at the Westin Memorial in Houston, 2 weeks ago. I come to the hotel every week, so i just called them and I asked them to keep it until I am back. I came back and now they cannot find. What can I do to push them to pay me back?

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