Recovering Lost Property from AirlinesWe’ve all been there at some point! After getting off a flight, you realise that you left something of value on board the plane. That’s exactly what happened to AFF member Jenya recently after an exhausting overnight Qantas flight from Perth to Melbourne.

Forgot my sunglassess in seat pocket on redeye from PER to MEL (was really sleep deprived). Any chance to locate it from your experience?

So, how does one go about recovering lost property from airlines? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it may seem. Soon after you leave the flight, cleaners pass through the cabin. If another passenger hasn’t already taken the forgotten item, the cleaners probably will. But if it’s a small item hidden in the seat pocket such as a pair of glasses, it could end up flying to the aircraft’s next destination. With so many possibilities, tracking down lost property can be very difficult indeed.

If found by airline staff, lost property is generally handed over to baggage services. So, if you are unlucky enough to leave something on a plane, contact the airline as soon as possible.

The likelihood of lost property being returned depends somewhat on its value and how protected it is. Phones, computers and iPads are valuable, but are usually password-protected and easily traceable. So they are not particularly attractive to thieves. The same can’t be said about things like headphones…

Things like iPads/phones tend to come back as they are locked, and potentially traceable as well. Attractive items like Bose earphones don’t….

Our members have had mixed experiences with lost property on flights. One AFF member left a bag on a Qantas flight which, despite the best efforts of Qantas staff, was never returned.

We did a BKK-SYD QF flight and left a clearly distinguishable kids bag, with random toys, and kids type things inside, in the J cabin seat storage compartment by accident.We reported it straight away to syd baggage desk after clearing getting to the DOM lounge (we only just noticed), they said cleaners would hand over lost property found on board within a day or two. Needless to say it was never ‘found’ so either some passenger picked it up on their way out or cleaners took it for their own kids.

Another member had only part of their lost property returned…

Left a folder with business presentation notes in a QF seat. Also had some QF lounge passes.The Notes were returned. The passes were missing I assume went to the next passenger in the seat.

But even if you think it’s unlikely that your lost property will be recovered, it’s worth reporting to the airline. One member had an iPad returned eight months after leaving it in an aircraft seat pocket!

Left the iPad in the seat pocket in 1A in Toronto two years ago. Reported it missing the next day, figured it was gone for good and replaced it. 8 months later I got an email that they found it and would I like them to ship it to me. Stuff does turn up, but I think like most have said, depends how high value and how protected an item is (electronically or otherwise).

If you do lose something on a flight, there is a chance you’ll get it back. But you can never really be sure of this. The moral of the story here is to always check you have your belongings before disembarking your flight!

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Property left on board. Any chance to find?


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]