You’re in a rush to get off the plane. You grab your bags, head out the door and dash through immigration and baggage claim to beat the crowd to the taxi stand. You hop in a cab and are off on your way to your hotel – finally, you can relax a little.
You reach into your bag looking for your phone or your wallet, but horror of horrors, you cannot find it. It’s then that you realise there’s only one place your absent object can be – back on the plane.
Any regular traveller is likely to be familiar with the heart-stopping feeling of having lost something on a flight, whether it be a bag, an item of clothing or a handheld device. And the effort required to get that object back can be a whole other world of frustration that, really, you could do without.
Such is the frequency with which travellers leave behind their possessions that some carriers have begun offering dedicated lost and found services. In May 2017, for instance, Hong Kong Airlines launched its online We Found service that helps travellers locate their missing goods and as of February 28, 2018 a total of 2,926 pieces of lost property have been found and recorded.
So, in an effort to help travellers remember to check they have all their belongings before they disembark the plane, Business Traveller asked Hong Kong Airlines what items most frequently appear in their lost and found basket, in the hopes that travellers will pay special attention to these items when they leave the aircraft. Here they are, in no particular order.
With the rise of on-board wifi and apps allowing travellers to access an airline’s in-flight entertainment system through their own devices, it’s hardly surprising that one of the most common items to go missing is a tablet.
Many business class seats have numerous convenient storage areas just perfect for keeping a tablet when it’s not in use. And in space-starved economy it can be incredibly convenient to slip the thin tablet into the holder on the back of the seat in front of you, where it manages to hide itself among the numerous magazines and safety cards. Make sure to check every storage space, even if you’re certain you haven’t used it, before you hop off the plane.
Similar to tablets, smartphones are becoming all the more important while flying as reliable in-flight connectivity becomes all the more available. However, a smartphone is likely even more essential, particularly for the corporate traveller, and anyone who’s lost a phone before will know just how cut off from the world not having access to a handheld device can feel like. Check around your seat before you go, and if it’s fallen between the gaps in the seats be sure to ask the cabin crew for help.
It’s hard to imagine anyone forgetting something as bulky as a neck pillow, especially if it’s not even an inflatable one. Yet these objects are among the most frequently left behind by passengers. Indeed it could be their very bulk that makes them so easy to misplace – with few storage spaces able to accommodate them, many likely end up somewhere on the floor around your seat, where they can all too easily be forgotten.
While not the most valuable object on this list that travellers can misplace, water bottles can be especially annoying to misplace if you’ve only recently woken up after a long flight. Finding a drink after you disembark the plane can be tricky and if you’re unfortunate enough to have to endure a long wait at immigration, that water bottle will quickly become sorely missed.
Most readers would likely have guessed that clothing would be among the most commonly forgotten items on planes. Whether it’s a hat, jumper or large jacket, there are plenty of pieces of clothing travellers have to keep track of while flying, not all of which will be worn throughout an entire flight. If you can, try to find some way to attach or loop your extraneous clothing items to your other pieces of luggage so that they don’t get away from you.
While clothing in general often manages to get left behind, it is scarves that are the most often misplaced item of clothing. Aircraft cabins can get warm during a long flight and you may not need to wrap your neck up for the entire duration. But while the temptation may be to just pop it on the floor by your bag or your shoes thinking you’ll remember it when you go to put your shoes back on, a scarf is hardly as essential as shoes. Try wrapping it around a bag strap rather than just placing it on the floor by your other items to be sure you won’t forget it.
Losing your glasses can be a nightmare, especially if you’ve got important presentations coming up that rely quite heavily on your ability to be able to actually read them. Unlike a lot of other items that can be safely kept inside your bag for the entire time you’re in the air, it’s hard to go through a whole flight without at least once needing your glasses, whether it’s for work or to watch a movie. Make a concerted effort to check that you’ve re-packed them before you leave the aircraft.
As with a tablet such as an iPad, it’s easy to forget you’ve placed your thin Kindle e-reader in the magazine pouch in front of you or in a small compartment to the side of your seat. At least with a paperback book you’ve usually got a noticeable amount of bulk that helps keep it rather conspicuous when stuffed into a seat-back pocket. Worst of all, that’s dozens of books you’ve now lost rather than just the one.
In the age of smartphones and selfies, you could be forgiven for thinking that few people still own actual cameras. However, it appears that travellers are still regularly bringing along their favourite photography equipment – and also losing it. If it’s a small camera, best to keep it in your bag rather than around your neck. If it’s something bigger with its own bag, like a DSLR camera, perhaps attach it to your main bag while it’s up in the overhead compartments.
No item could be more infuriating for travellers to leave behind on an aircraft, yet it appears many manage to do just that. Fortunately, there’s a good chance you’ll notice this before you get too far from the aircraft, though hopefully before you’ve been standing in a queue at immigration for the past half hour. And since it has your name and photo inside, you can be sure the airline will know who to return it to, provided they are the ones to find it.