Airline Employees Really Don't Care That You Left Your iPad On The Plane

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the last year of reading the stories that our readers send in to The Consumerist, it’s this: the seat-back pouches on airplanes are the perfect place to stash your iPad during a flight, then never see it again. This apparently happens to a surprising number of people, but Amin thought he was lucky: he noticed that his was missing only twenty minutes after getting off the plane. This meant that he could rush back and perhaps recover the iPad before the plane took off again. Except…well, we’re posting this story, so you can probably guess what happened next.

I’m an avid and regular reader of your wonderful site. I have a dilemma with Southwest Airlines and I’d like to somehow share my story with the world.

I’m going to copy and paste the email I sent to Southwest describing what had happened on one fateful and horrid flying day:

On this flight, I accidentally left my iPad in the seat back pocket. I came back to the terminal within 20 minutes and ran to the Southwest check-in counter. I began to explain that I left my iPad on the plane. She then slowly went over and called the terminal. She then told me the lady on the other end let her know that she was the only one there and could not leave to get my iPad from the airplane. So I asked her what I could do, because I didn’t want the plane to leave with my iPad. She told me I could run over to the terminal to get it.

She then slowly, once again, proceeded to print me a pass. I had to go through TSA all over again and ran to the terminal gate. When I arrived at the terminal there was no one at the gate. I proceeded to wait for 5 minutes when a gentleman came out and let me know that I was 5 minutes too late. He let me know that he would have been able to get the iPad if someone had let him know just a few minutes earlier.

So he then proceeded to tell me to talk to another person at Terminal 2. I went over to her and she was casually talking to another customer about why planes could not land when its foggy. I patiently waited for them to finish their conversation. 5 minutes later she talked to me and proceeded to let me know that she was the person that was on the other line when the girl at check-in called.

So apparently she was too busy chatting to even inform ANYONE that my $900 iPad was stuck on the plane. By the time we were talking she also let me know that the turned off all communications with the plane and it would be impossible for me to get ahold of anyone on the plane. Which frustrated me even more.

So I had to file a missing iPad report only to find out the next day that nothing had been turned in. Of course nothing was turned it the employees did nothing to help me find it. I completely understand that it was my fault for leaving the iPad on the plane, but I remembered the same day within 20 minutes. I came running in to each area asking Southwest employees to help me. Instead of receiving any compassion or care they all kept passing me on and uncaringly told me to just file a report.

Had a flight attendant just made an announcement and picked up my iPad I wouldn’t be short $900 and a lot of personal information. Thanks a lot Southwest…Please do something to make this right. One way or another I will share this even with the entire internet world, hopefully the story ends well.

The response to my email was the following…

Dear Armin,

We are very sorry to learn of your disappointment with Southwest Airlines. Thank you for contacting us and affording us the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

We sincerely regret that you left your iPad onboard the aircraft after your flight, but we hope you can understand that we cannot be responsible for personal carryon items brought onboard our aircraft. I understand and regret your frustration in the length of time it took for you to go back through security and return to the gate. That said, our insurance will not cover such “losses,” and while we make every effort to return carryon items that are found onboard our aircraft, we simply do not have the resources or manpower to bring or search an aircraft for an item to a Customer between flights. Please know that we take your concerns very seriously and have tracked the main points of your e-mail in our monthly summary, which is shared with our Senior Leaders.

Additionally, I do show that you spoke with our Agent in Central Baggage Services (CBS) yesterday and has already shared our process for lost items of high value. Please allow up to three weeks and we ask for your patience during this time due to the high quantity of misplaced and lost items that we receive daily. Again, you are welcome to contact CBS for updates but please rest assured that have your report and would love nothing more than to reunite you with your iPad should it be located. Your business means the world to us, and we would never intentionally jeopardize your continued patronage. It’s our hope that you will continue flying with us as it would be our privilege to welcome you onboard for many years to come.

Sincerely,

[redacted], Southwest Airlines

The file reference number for your e-mail is [redacted].

I couldn’t believe it. They had the audacity to tell me that I was frustrated by the length of time it took me to get back through security and to the gate. Obviously, I wasn’t annoyed at that. That is normal protocol. What I was frustrated by was the fact that none of their employees gave a rats ass as to whether or not I was about to lose my overpriced iPad FILLED with tons of personal information. Yes, I know, that information is backed up on my computer and I didn’t lose it. But someone does have tons of pictures of me and all my friends = and of course I changed all my passwords.

It’s not hard to understand why frantic passengers looking for lost items don’t really faze veteran airline employees, who have to deal with this kind of thing all the time. Still, just a little bit better communication between airport employees could have reunited Amin with his laptop sooner and led to a happy ending.

We can only hope that Amin’s iPad fell into the hands of an honest person and it will find its way home soon.

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United Doesn’t Care That I Lost My iPad Onboard