Panic. That moment when you’ve stepped just outside of security and realize that you’ve left your (fill in the blank) onboard the plane. Your essential, can’t-live-without-it, how-on-earth-could-this-be-happening item. We’ve all been there. Some, more than others. (At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m dialing up the Lost and Found for the second time in a month.)
Virgin America has the best bag-handling reliability in the industry. We take pride in how we handle your items – and our team has recovered everything from diamond engagement rings to embalmed baby sharks (don’t ask) for guests who left them onboard.
So here’s a handy little guide to help you navigate your way through the Lost and Found process on the off-chance (or in my case, the inevitability) that your brand new iPhone 5s goes missing on your next business trip to EWR.
1. Stay calm. How many times have you had the freak out panic moment – tearing through your every pocket, bag, purse in sight – searching frantically for your missing glasses…only to have someone point out that they’re resting safely upon your head? This is the time when you should: a) take a deep breath; b) calmly check all appendages, bags, and pockets for your missing item; c) retrace your steps (so long as you haven’t exited the terminal’s security checkpoint!); and d) verify that you have indeed entered into what I like to call, the “Oh Crap Moment.”
2. Act Fast. Within 30 minutes of deplaning, there’s a chance your aircraft will have been cleaned, catered, and boarded for another flight. So as soon as you know you’re missing something, you’ll want to start tracking it down immediately. Here’s how:
- If you’re still at the airport, and haven’t left the secured area, turn around and head straight back for the gate. Track down the nearest Guest Service Teammate and enlist their help. Tell them your seat number and where you think you may have left your item and they’ll help track it down.
- If you’re post security, but still at the airport (or close enough to turn around) head to the ticket counter and ask for help there. They can call up a teammate at the gate to try to help.
- If you’ve left the airport, give us a ring. Click here for a list of useful phone numbers for Airport Lost & Found and Baggage Service offices for all of our airports. Keep in mind that items left on a plane will be logged at the arrival airport (if they’re found) and held for five days at Virgin America’s local baggage service office. After five days, items are sent to Central Baggage and held for 30 days. If the station does not have a match for your missing item, please email email@example.com with as much detail about the lost item as possible. After 30 days, we’ll donate missing items.
3. Have your information on hand. The more info you have about where and when you lost your item and any kind of identifying information about it that can help the airline verify that it belongs to you will help your chances of being reunited again with that lucky rabbit’s foot. So whenever possible, do your best to gather up the following:
- Your flight number, Terminal and Gate number, or Security checkpoint where you think you may have dropped your item.
- The serial number of your lost electronic device (if you happen to have it) or the passcode to get into your locked smartphone or tablet. (Side Note: Virgin America teammates will oftentimes track down owners of missing Kindles by their serial numbers!
- The color, brand, and description of your child’s missing teddy bear or your favorite Giants cap.
- The contents of a missing wallet or purse. I’ve done this before – when I was 8 months preggers and left my wallet in the LAX terminal – not smart. I was able to tell Lost and Found that there were 20 Mexican pesos in my wallet that’d been in there since my last trip to PVR.
4. Be proactive: If you really want to be ahead of the game, label your valuables in advance and consider enabling features like “Find My Phone” or “Find My Mobile”. If you lose your phone, send yourself a text message with where you can be reached in case someone finds it. We have a massive charging station in many of our Baggage Service Offices where we’ll power up devices and try to sleuth our way into figuring out who the owner is by dialing the last number called (if your device isn’t locked) or checking text messages for clues.
5. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Although Virgin America teammates have gone to great lengths to get items returned to their owners, the truth is, we can’t always guarantee a happy ending. So if you’re as charmingly forgetful as I am, sometimes it’s good to just double, triple, or quadruple check your seat before rushing off the plane.
I hope these tips are helpful and save you a bit of panic and heartache should you make the same mistake I’ve made (many times). If you have a lost item story, we’d love to hear it! Please share in the comments below.