How long should I wait to get something back from an airline?

Something that I left on the plane, in the seat pocket (spoiler below).

I didn’t notice until the next morning, so I filled out their form online (which is the only way they allow you to notify them) and their form-letter email response indicated that they won’t respond unless they find the item.

It has now been 5 days. It seems like if they were going to find it, they would have done so within the first 24 hours, or even before I filed the form. Don’t they usually go through the plane and clean it out between each flight?

The item didn’t have my name written on it, but it would have obviously not belonged in the seat pocket, and it was obviously valuable enough that someone would want it back.

Anyone have experience with how long this might take? If they aren’t going to return it, I’d like to buy another one, but I don’t want to end up with two of them.

It’s a Nook e-book reader (black and white). I have already disabled the ability to purchase more books from it using my credit card. B&N said they would monitor attempts to download to it and let me know if anyone tries.


Prepare to say goodbye…but hope for the best. It may still lay there undiscovered. If B&N have the ability to identify when it comes online, then you may get lucky. In fact I would suggest that is your best bet. Can they message to it?

When the plane pulls into the terminal and lets the passengers off a crew comes on board and quickly tidies up the plane. The flight attendants may help out before the next flight boards, but then it would just be pulling out obvious stuff like cups or garbage. Something like your device will be like camouflage amongst the airline magazines and emergency placards.

If the flight hasn’t had full loads, then it may still be there.

On the other hand, given the fact that airplanes are in almost continuous service, your device could have gotten off anywhere.
I dropped my MP3 player on my seat as I left a plane in Amsterdam. I contacted the airport and airline as soon as I discovered it missing, but it never showed up. Even if it did, I had to go back to Schiphol to retrieve it.

It wasn’t way down in the pocket, it was partly sticking out; I just stuck it there “for a few minutes” while we were landing. Then I forgot it.

I don’t think B&N can do much except report if someone tries to download to it. I kept it in airplane mode by default, to save the batteries, which means the wi-fi is turned off.

My guess is that the next passenger walked off with it; if not, they probably would have discovered it and turned it in. It can still be used by downloading from a computer instead of wirelessly. I hope the new user finds my books enjoyable, the rat.

Airline type here …

Each airline is slightly different, but here’s the way we do it:

After every flight the airplane is quickly “cleaned”, which really means picking up all the trash dropped by the customers and putting away blankets & pillows & using a vaccum sweeper on any mashed pretzels or kids’ cheerios ground into the carpet. The seat pockets aren’t gone through in detail, but if something large & obvious was sticking out, it would probably be noticed by the cleaning crew. A slim & dark blue/black portfolio-looking thing against a dark blue/black seat back might not be noticed.

Cabin crews & cleaners find stuff on the through-flight cleanup all the time. Like maybe 1 in 4 flights. Found items are turned in to the gate agent along with the seat where found & the flight number. The agent tags the item & turns it in to the airline’s lost & found dept at the end of their shift. Once there it gets logged in the big computer in the sky for tracking.

At the major hub stations we have a big room full of stuff folks have left behind. At small spoke stations it ends up in a locked file cabinet in the little office behind the ticket counter.

If you left it at a small spoke station, either call them directly or go visit face-to-face if it’s in your home town. Calling the airport authority can usually get you a phone number for the appropriate airline’s local office & local manager instead of the central 800 number which won’t know jack.
Overnight, by law each airplane gets a stem to stern security check. Every seatpocket is inspected, as is every nook & cranny & compartment. While I can’t verify that every low-wage airplane inspector does perfect work every time, there’s not much chance a big item like a Nook would be skipped once, much less several times.

Nor would it be missed by more than 1 or at most 2 passengers who sat in that seat after you.

Bottom line: If after 5 days the airline hasn’t contacted you, try to directly contact the station where you left it. If they don’t have it, it’s gone for good.