United Doesn't Care That I Lost My iPad Onboard

Bob was in such a hurry to get off a United flight he left his iPad at his seat, and didn’t realize his mistake until he had crossed the security checkpoint. He tried like hell to rescue his lost tablet, even using the MobileMe function that’s discovered the whereabouts of many a swiped idevice, to no avail. He says United has been less than helpful.

Bob writes:

I was on a flight back on September 26th, from Denver to Seattle

I left my expensive Ipad in the seat back pocket.

By the time I realized my mistake, I was already out of the security area of the airport

I tried every conceivable way to help them locate my iPad. I called everyone that I can find online and thru my contacts at United. All I have gotten is cookie cutter emails and answering machines. The customer service centers are overseas and have been absolutely atrocious

I have the Mobile.Me service that would help locate the Ipad if it were turned on
and removed from flight mode. It has been so long, that it would need to be charged
before it would do anything.

My big suspicion is that the device went into a box and will eventually end up for sale at their overgoods center because no one will take a little bit of extra time to help find its owner.

I realize that I am the one who made the mistake and left it on the plane I could make excuses about how they made us late getting into Seattle and I was in a rush but, bottom line, I left it on the plane.

They have been absolutely worthless in resolving this matter.

If you’ve ever managed to retrieve a lost carry-on valuable, how did you pull off the feat?


Edit Your Comment

  1. ClaudeKabobbing says:

    Maybe Bob will be more careful next time.

    • simplegreen says:

      1) Dont fly united
      2) Dont buy ipads

    • common_sense84 says:

      That is not acceptable here.

      All they had to do was notify the gate attendants and someone could have gotten it before the plane even took off. A whole 2 minutes of time is all that is needed. United purposely refused to go get it. What would they do if someone said it was medication they need to live?

      • magus_melchior says:

        They would get it because (a) they’d be on the hook for criminal negligence (at least in the US), and (b) the liability and PR disaster that would ensue is much more expensive than any sales they could try to pull in during such a scandal.

        But an iPad? There are plenty of people like ClaudeKabobbing in this world– the first 2 or 3 Consumerist commenters in this thread demonstrate that there are people who don’t care about those who lose luxury items on a plane.

        I agree that United shouldn’t be so cavalier about lost items because that will cause them to screw up when something really essential like chronic medication or an asthma inhaler is involved. But maybe it’s asking a bit much for some folks here to insist on better customer service.

        • SteveZim1017 says:

          where do we draw the line though? what if I left my camera on board, that was $300, does that count? oops my kid left his Nintendo DS, thats $150, can we stop the plane for that? I have a nice umbrella I left on a plane once that was 30 bucks, can we yell at them for that too?

          • Earl42 says:

            I doubt he asked them to stop the plane. I think you are over dramatizing. If the person at the terminal were reachable a flight attendant could have spent a whopping 2 minutes to retrieve the item. Yeah, it is his fault for forgetting it. But, at some point after realizing his mistake, a minimal amount of effort on the airlines part could have gone a long way towards making a customer happy instead of disappointed.

        • ClaudeKabobbing says:

          I do use laptops and other expensive items on an airplane. I am also very responsible with my property, because unlike others I know that I have to take responsiblity for my actions and my property. Which means if I am careless Its my fault. Does that mean I dont care if I screw up and and lose something, No I call and Ask has it been found, and yes I do get pissed because I know the person on the other end of the call is making a half hearted effort to help me. But again in the end, if I am careless is my fault.

      • OMAC says:

        That is assuming it wasn’t lifted by one of the passengers.

    • bluevideo says:

      Bob just needs to make a catchy song titled “United steals iPads” and upload it to YouTube. Worked for the last guy

    • The Marionette says:

      No no, remember, the company is screwing HIM over.

    • kc2idf says:

      That response was completely predictable.

      It was also completely bereft of humanity.

      • Admiral_John says:

        Seriously, what fault of the airline is this? Before you disembark the plane they tell you to make sure you’re not forgetting anything and you would think that something expensive like an iPad would be pretty high up on the “I better not forget this” list. Hell, when I flew to California last year I had two Zunes with me, one for music and one for videos and I made damn sure not to forget them.

        Sorry, but I have a hard time finding too much sympathy with OP… yeah, it sucks that he forgot it but maybe he should be more careful.

        • kc2idf says:

          It’s called customer service. Maybe, just maybe, they might deign to stoop so low as to just answer a phone. Is that really too much to ask?

          Yes, it sucks to be him. It must really suck to be so jaded as to blame the OP as happens just way-too-god-damned-much on this site.

          If the airline was willing to help, they might have been able to get his business again in the future. Now, instead of remembering how helpful they were, he will remember that he couldn’t even get them to answer the phone in a timely fashion, and it cost him an expensive toy.

          So, in summary, is it his fault? Yes. Is it the airline’s problem to solve? Doubtful. Could the airline have handled this better? Yes. Would it have benefitted them to do so? Probably.

  2. Macgyver says:

    It’s his own fault for leaving it behind.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Thanks for missing the point. Not that the user “Macgyver” ever gets the point.

    • Fallom says:

      So what? Do you really want to live in a world where a company can retain your personal property and do with it what they please because you accidentally left it with them?

      • ryder28910 says:

        That is actually how the world works. After almost two months, it’s as good as their’s. Moreover, at this point it’s not at all worth it for United to waste resources on Bob’s mistake, and ludicrous for him to think otherwise. The advice given, which is certainly correct and appropriate, is to take this as an expensive lesson learned and to be more careful in the future.

        • Rena says:

          Yeah, it’d be ridiculous for them to return what’s rightfully his and avoid all the negative publicity.

          • ryder28910 says:

            You say that like their maliciously keeping the thing from him. He lost it, and the onus is on him — not the airline — to work to get it back. And I guarantee you this won’t have a lick of negative publicity, since 1) nobody outside of this narcissistic, silver-spoon community would find Bob anything other than moronic, 2) nobody will remember this in 24 hours, and 3) people will continue to fly with whomever can offer the cheapest rate.

            • coren says:

              work such as calling several people at united, trying to use the recovery feature, etc. etc. and getting ignored?

        • Gladeye says:

          It was probably 5 – 10 minutes off the plane, not two months later. Would it have been difficult for them to help him retrieve? Do you honestly believe that you don’t deserve to have anything you forget anywhere to be returned to you? Too many dispassionate jackasses.

          • ryder28910 says:

            According to the date listed, it is currently about a month and a half from then Bob lost it. At this point, all the whining in the world isn’t going to get anything back; he lost his iPad needs to get over it. I’m all for people getting their lost possessions back, but don’t count on me to lift a finger or use my own time and effort to remedy your own negligence.

    • msbask says:

      So what?

    • runswithscissors says:

      You always gotta blame the OP, eh? Every single story. At least you’re predictable, I’ll give you that.

    • coren says:

      It’s his own fault for flying/owning an ipad/breathing/sending it to consumerist.

    • kc2idf says:

      It’s lucky for you that you are so god-damned perfect you’ve never made a mistake in your entire fucking life.

      C’mon! Be a freaking person!

    • mmrosek says:

      Can he please have his account revoked. He’s a worthless contributor with a smattering of @sshole on everything. I leave Consumerist every couple weeks b/c I get so fed up with these comments. Go F*ck Yourself.

  3. eturowski says:

    “They have been absolutely worthless in resolving this matter.”

    I am Bob’s complete lack of surprise.

  4. FLY_GUY says:

    I left mine on aboard a Delta plane. I realized at the baggage claim. I went to the Delta baggage office. They called the gate. The gate agent confirmed that my iPad was in the seat back pocket. They held it at the gate and issued a gate pass for me to pick it up.

    Delta has great agents in Atlanta, who made my day much easier even thought I made the error of leaving my iPad on board. Even more pleasant is that they did it without it seeming like they were going to any special trouble, as though they were just doing their job.

    • unimus says:

      Very often this is down to the single ground crew you talk to, whether the person gives a shit or not. The ground crews know how the retrieval could be done. It’s up to the individual to decide whether to get the ball rolling or tell you to f**k off.

  5. jstimson says:

    It’s a sad story, but the airline has no obligation to go rummaging for his misplaced item.

    With planes having short turn-around times, his iPad could just as easily be in the hands of the next passenger that took the seat. Or, as he said, sitting in a lost-and-found box somewhere.

    • jtheletter says:

      “Or, as he said, sitting in a lost-and-found box somewhere.”

      What’s the point of such a lost and found box if no one at the company is willing to help him locate such a box, check its contents, or even acknowledge the existence of it?

      • DH405 says:

        The point is for them to be able to show that they “held” it for him, but he never came for it, so they were TOTALLY justified in selling it.

    • mistersmith says:

      Short turnaround times? Short for an airplane is, what, 45 minutes to an hour? He realized his mistake before then, and the airline should have picked up a radio or a telephone and had someone on the plane spend 30 seconds looking for his expensive toy. Because a minute of their time would have made them thousands of dollars in not losing a customer, now, whuddaya bet he never flies United again?

      • Snowblind says:

        You obviously have never seen a modern turn around. Southwest is 15 min or so, the seats are still warm!

    • nbs2 says:

      There is rummaging and there making a basic effort. The missus lost a pair of sunglasses at the Happiest Place on Earth to what she believed was theft. As we left FL the next day, she decided to call the central park office. Not only did they take the time to identify that it was her glasses that were turned in to the lost and found, but before we could even ask how much it would cost to ship them, they offered to send them to us. I don’t know how soon we will head back down, but the customer service leaves me wanting to make the trek.

    • Michaela says:

      It will probably end up at Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, Alabama.

    • Mhc says:

      >>his iPad could just as easily be in the hands of the next passenger that took the seat

      This is wrong.

      Before/after each flight, the plane is put through a security check where any unauthorized materials are supposed to be removed from the cabin. With all the nonsense right now about the safety of WiFi onboard, there’s no way they’d leave an iPad on the plane unsupervised and unclaimed.

    • dg says:

      Of a passenger who was deplaning behind him, saw it, and grabbed it *YOINK!*

  6. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    This is the one place I have complements for North West (or whomever they are now). Maybe it’s just the ease of speaking a local human at the tiny Minot ND airport.

    We left a small black bag from my wife’s wheelchair on board (It was supposed to be in our carry on, but it fell out, and well it’s black and hides in shadows). The plane was already on it’s way to Minneapolis or even the leg after that but they put in the request with a description. They had it to us the next day.

    I believe there were prescription drugs in the bag that could be used for positive identification.

    Chances are the next passenger thought “COOL, FREE IPAD” and the OP will never see it, but if that didn’t happen I think there is a reasonable chance the Airline may pleasantly surprise our OP.

  7. The Upright Man says:

    That’s a shame

    /Jerry Seinfeld

  8. aja175 says:

    It’s in some FA’s backpack, don’t plan on seeing that again.
    Chalk it up to a stupid tax, take your lumps and don’t do it again.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Yeah, or whoever cleans the plane. A buddy of mine worked at the airport doing turnarounds for planes, and those guys all had stories about stuff they’ve acquired thanks to the job. I think the only things they would turn in were wallets or purses.

      • SteveZim1017 says:

        yep. settings > general > erase all data and settings.

        takes 2 seconds, brand new ipad that can no longer be traced by mobileme

  9. Red Cat Linux says:

    “My big suspicion is that the device went into a box and will eventually end up for sale at their overgoods center because no one will take a little bit of extra time to help find its owner”

    D’ya really think this is going to make it into the overgoods center?

  10. SkokieGuy says:

    Dear Bob,

    Thank you for your email. We understand how in the hectic world of modern air travel, people can forget things.

    The airplane you were on was about to take off, but we delayed the flight for 45 minutes, searched every seat pocket, but regretfully did not find your Ipad. 147 passengers were delayed, several missed their connecting flights, the cascading effect means that over 25 flights were delayed, all so we can help solve your problem.

    Thank you for flying United. We value your business!

    Different words, same result – no returned Ipad. Do you feel better now?

    With the quick turn around times, most airlines don’t clean planes between each flight. The seat pocket was not doubt inspected by the next passenger, not United crew, so your Ipad was either taken by another passenger, or if you’re very lucky, they will turn it into the flight crew and it will possibly be returned to you. Is it easily identifiable as your property? Business card taped to the back? In a pouch with a luggage tag?

    • PLATTWORX says:


    • EmDeeEm says:

      Exactly.My boss left his kindle on a flight… eventually got it back a few months later from a passenger who found it.

    • Etoiles says:

      Although you can actually say, “I was sitting in 9D, so the ipad would be in the back pocket of chair 8D,” and spare the whole “search entire plane” bit.

      Last time I got off an airplane, there was a forgotten laptop two seats ahead of me. I told the flight attendants while I was disembarking, “Someone seems to have forgotten their laptop in 5A,” and I *hope* they actually got it to some kind of lost and found where the guy could retrieve it.

    • mythago says:

      Funny, but when I left a laptop on a plane, the airline was able to find it without delaying the flight. Maybe you just don’t know how to run a business?

      • magus_melchior says:

        It’s remarkably easy to be an armchair airline CEO/middle manager while knowing very little about how an airline operates.

      • kc2idf says:

        +1 Insightful and funny.

        As I said further up the thread, this isn’t the airline’s problem, but if they put in a little effort, then they would have gained customer loyalty. Their response has doubtless had the reverse effect. Bob will always associate United with their indifference to his lost iPad.

  11. legotech says:

    keep checking mobile me, and remember that the cleaning crews don’t work for the airline and don’t have any responsibility to anyone except the lowest bidder company that pays them. I’d bet that your iPad is happily ensconced in someone’s locker waiting for a chance to sell it off.

    My iTouch went the same way, and no one at the airlines cares about you or your property…believe me. I even found the direct numbers to the various lost and found departments at the airport/airlines and got no answer and no response to the crappy email forms they give you as a placebo to make you think they actually care.

    • legotech says:

      and yeah, my itouch did have my name, address, and phone number on the back…doesn’t matter.

    • spongebue says:

      Actually, that depends on the airline and airport. I work for an airline at a small city, and we clean the plane out every night. Oh, and we have found things before, but it’s not that common to be honest. Usually it’s just magazines and stuff that people forgot about, if they weren’t totally done with, though we did recover a cell phone and send it back to the original owner (once I realized that the charger was the same type as what I already had for my phone, and that I had a charger in my car)

  12. elganador says:

    Maybe he should call back after having a few drinks…that should get their attention.

  13. Sparty999 says:

    That sucks… sorry for your luck!!

  14. silver-spork says:

    Kiss it goodbye – they care even less about you once you are off the plane.

  15. AngryK9 says:

    Hope he gets it back, but the chances of that happening are not very good. Unless the person that finds it is honest and turns it in to the proper personnel, it’s probably gone for good.

    • Thespian says:

      And that’s further assuming that the “proper personnel” are themselves honest and don’t just keep it. The OP is hoping for honesty on two successive levels, which, needless to say, is not likely these days.

  16. fs2k2isfun says:

    I left my netbook on a United Express plane at Dulles this summer. I knew it was missing within about an hour, but I haven’t seen it since. I’ve given up on ever seeing it again and fortunately there wasn’t anything essential or personal on it.

  17. Sian says:

    I make my own iPads at home.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Tell me who you are so I can sick our lawyers on you.


      Sent from my insanely great iPad.

  18. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    It’s 1-1/2 months later now. Re evaluate: Did not having it somehow make your life incomplete? Do you really NEED an iPad? How did you survive in this world without it before it was invented just months ago?

    • dreamking says:

      He probably needs the iPad more than you need the judgmental attitude. That must be why you’re giving it away unbidden.

      Insert any gadget tech into your sentence. Or, better:

      ‘Do you really NEED a consumerist.com login? How did you survive in this world without it before it was created just months ago?’

  19. Rask says:

    How about storing your 500+$ piece of gear in your CARRY-ON and not the seatback when you’re done with it..

    No sympathy for you!

    • Mom says:

      Presumably, he was using it during the flight. I can see the people around him being really happy when he drops a 40 pound wheeled bag on their heads because he’s gotten his iPad in and out of his suitcase six times during the flight.

      • Rayon Fog says:

        Now you’re just making stuff up for the sake of being nasty. Were you there? Really, what was the point in posting something you know absolutely nothing about?

    • mythago says:

      I don’t understand the ‘no sympathy’ people. Who cares about sympathy? The guy doesn’t want random twerps on the Internet going ‘there, there,’ he wants his iPad back.

    • mandy_Reeves says:

      My I-touch never leaves my sight. If It’s not in my hand, it’s in a pocket or purse which I never put down while out…no one touches my touch! lol. I waited 2 years til I finally had a surplus at the end of March and bought one. No WAY would I put it in a seat pocket!

  20. tlmmason says:

    I left my new Sony SLR camera and phone on a Delta flight. I realized it about 45 minutes after I had got off the plane, while waiting for a connecting flight. I talked to the attendent at the gate I was going to get on she stopped one of the little carts for me to ride down to the gate I had departed from. The attendent at that gate walked me to an office where they had my camera. I still hadn’t realized that I had also lost my phone I did not realize this until I had reached my final destination. Four days later my husband received a phone call from my phone, a flight attendent had found the phone in the flight attendants lounge. They fed-exed me the phone a few days later. I have to say overall great service from Delta.

  21. alSeen says:

    When I worked for one of the NW connection carriers that got bought by Delta I would always find stuff on the planes when we cleaned them at night.

    I was able to return a few MP3 players, a large CD binder, and a bunch of phones (easiest was to call a few of the numbers and have them tell the person).

    I wound up with two expensive items that I couldn’t find the owner of.

    1) A Nintendo DS Lite – Not really that expensive but I know it had belonged to a kid because of the games. I know they had to be upset but it hadn’t been left by someone on that specific flight and at the time I had no way to track who had been on that aircraft’s other flights.

    2) A nice digital camera – Again, looked through the previous people who had sat in that seat or around it. Called and no one had lost it. Even went through the pics trying to find some kind of identifying shot. Even tried to zoom in on the sports shirts of a few of the highschoolers trying to read their last name. It didn’t help.

    The moral of the story is to put your name and number on your expensive items. If you don’t, even a goodwilled person won’t be able to help you.

    • mandarynn says:

      I really like this comment. Thanks for the tip and for being honest!

    • damageddude says:

      I worked for TWA during college. One of the things I learned was to always put your full name and address and your itinerary inside your luggage in case it got lost and ended up somewhere without outside tags (happened now and then) so the bag could be sent to where you were.

      And as to honesty, one day a passenger handed us a wallet he found by the payphones. It had ID so we tried paging the passenger and looking him up in the computer (for what it was worth back then) to see if he had a local address (we were in JFK, address was California or something). The wallet was locked up (just id and credit cards, no cash) and after a day or two, with no report filed or call for the wallet, my manager told us to mail it to the passenger’s home address. A few weeks later we received a letter from the passenger asking where his cash was and stating how we were all crooks. While there was definitely theft on the ramps then, the wallet was out in public and the cash was undoubtedly taken by whoever stole/found the wallet.

  22. PLATTWORX says:

    “Bob was in such a hurry to get off a United flight he left his iPad at his seat, and didn’t realize his mistake until he had crossed the security checkpoint.”

    Um, Bob is not very bright. He was in SUCH a rush he could not remember he had an iPad with him and bring it?? Totally Bob’s fault. Totally.

    • NF says:

      Question: Why is Consumerist now full of these knuckleheads that always blame the consumer? So, how about the airline being a little helpful to CUSTOMERS? NO….. it is always the consumer’s fault. I don’t get it.

      • Rena says:

        +1. I am amazed at the number of people blaming the OP here; it seems even more than usual. Yes he made a dumb mistake; that doesn’t excuse the airline’s response. People lose things. If they had any sense of decency and customer satisfaction they’d help him find it.

        • MrEvil says:

          I chalk it up to Hater’s gon’ hate.

        • ZenMasterKel says:

          I’ve read the story a couple of times now, and I still don’t an important point. Why didn’t he just go back to the ticket agent? Those are outside of the security checkpoints, and they could call the gate agent?

          There are not a lot of details. Obviously, if the airport was busy, the ticket agents may not have been able to help him. I’m not blaming the OP, but should all the blame really fall on United?

      • tbax929 says:

        Because consumerist no longer requires people audition for the privilege of commenting on posts. So now we have all of the idiots on here who will go out of their way to blame the OP on every single post. Reference any post by MacGyver and you’ll see what I mean.

      • ClaudeKabobbing says:

        Did the airline leave the airplain without the airlines iPad, no, Bob did. There for it must be Bob’s fault. Customer service should be expected for any business, but in the end, had Bob not been careless Bob would have his iPad.

  23. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Guess what, Bob? This is what happens when you leave your expensive things lying around and your mother isn’t there to pick up after you. Deal with it.

  24. laughingisfree says:

    Someone out there that found a brand new ipad is probably glad they flew United. Haha. Finders keepers losers weepers does not end in grade school I’m afraid.

  25. edosan says:

    It’s too bad that they don’t have flight attendants tell passengers to check the seat pocket and the area around them for any items they may have forgotten about.

    Oh, wait…

  26. brit2380 says:


    I wouldn’t get your hopes up in finding it. Good luck and keep trying, but I really doubt you’ll see it again!

    However, it doesn’t sound like you were in a rush, and unless you were on a small plane or first class, it takes a normal passenger forever to get off the plane since everyone has carryon. Since you were probably using it the whole time on the flight, why did you put it in the seat pocket and not back in your bag? There are a lot of if and or buts about this, but overall you’ll have to learn an expensive lesson.

  27. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    About 25 years ago I left a book on a United flight. By the time I got home there was a message on my machine (no cells phone back then) telling me that they would overnight it to me.

    It was delivered the next day.

    The book? Robert Kennedy and his times by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

  28. aja175 says:

    Sadly, the best life lessons are usually the most expensive.

    • rdm says:

      Agreed. And what’s with the indicating that the ipad is “expensive” in the email to Consumerist? We all know what it is, and we all know that it’s expensive. Do you need to brag even more?

  29. Mom says:

    I left some random business papers that I was reading in the seat pocket once on a Delta flight. I realized they were missing, but they were something that I didn’t really need anymore, so it was no big deal. Three weeks later, my boss shows up at my desk with a courier package containing the docs. The airline found them the day after the flight, sent them to the company whose name was on the title page, where they eventually got to the guy who had written them, who courier’d the docs to my boss, who figured they had to belong to me. Then I promptly threw them out.

    • esk42 says:

      Exactly the same thing happened to me once. I was grateful to Delta (the LAST time I’ve ever been grateful to them, as their behavior since has been so wretched I’ve stopped flying them altogether) but boy was I embarrassed it was for something worthless!

  30. kagekiri says:

    Huh; back in the late 90s on a school trip to DC, I lost my digital watch on a United flight. I can’t remember exactly who I reported it to (I think a teacher may have helped), but they mailed it back to me a few weeks later. I was fairly surprised to see it come back to me, and I got a few more years of use out of it before upgrading to my current watch.

    $40 digital watch with a velcro strap versus a $500+ iPad with possible personal info on it. Either times have changed, or I really lucked out back then.

  31. SlappyFrog says:

    Call the airport lost and found.

    • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

      Heh. Reminds me of that Brooks & Dunn song:

      “Kinda like a lost and found in a border town, askin’ ’bout a diamond ring…they just look at you like you’ve lost your mind, say they haven’t seen a thing…”

  32. mythago says:

    I once left my laptop on a Southwest flight. The ticket agent I called in a panic routed me to the correct person to handle lost and found. They immediately contacted the flight crew, who had already found the laptop and brought it to their customer service desk. They took my FedEx number and I got it two days later.

    Choose your airline accordingly in the future.

  33. The cake is a lie! says:

    I had the same thing happen with my Skull Candy head phones. I was willing to do whatever they wanted just so I could go back and find someone who claimed them, but they had magically vanished. Shit like that just winds up in the pockets of the airplane cleaning crews. They have to blow through those planes so fast that there is very little chance any of them are going to stop and consider what to do with lost possessions. My guess is that most people would consider a find like an iPad like part of their wages. Sort of like cleaning a stadium after a big game. Lots of free stuff to be found on the floor after one of those…

    I just got back from Vegas and my friend lost his cell phone. He was literally never more than 10 feet from where he last used it, but do you think anybody would turn it in to the lost and found? Hell no. I don’t have a whole lot of faith in humanity or their honesty.

  34. njack says:

    Best bet is hope that someone turns it on at some point since you have MobileMe setup, otherwise you are likely out of luck.

  35. Spacebabe47 says:

    Once I dropped my passport on the jetway on a Continental flight from Newark to Geneva, Switzerland. I didn’t realize that it was missing it until I was about to get off the plane. Luckily Swiss immigration let me through with a “don’t do that again” after I produced all of the paperwork I had on me. I left my contact information with the airline representative in Geneva and went home (I was living there at the time).

    About a month later the airline called my parents (who lived in the States) and overnighted the passport. By this time I had already given up and gotten a new one. Apparently I forgot to update my contact information when booking my flight through Expedia, and it took them that long to track me down. Leaving my info with the people in Geneva did nothing. I guess I could have been more proactive in trying to find it, but international customer service calls are a pain.

  36. gglockner says:

    About ten years ago, the same thing happened to me on United. Left my Palm Vx in the seat back pocket. About a week later, it was shipped to my office. Hopefully Bob will get his back. If not, that’s why you should put contact info on the back of the device, back it up, and realize that it’s replaceable.

  37. Star-D says:

    Once I left behind my Bose noise canceling headphones on a Southwest flight. Fortunately I left an ID card in the case. Before I even got near the exit, they paged me to come back to the gate, and I was able to claim them instantly.

    The key thing is keeping some form of ID in your iPad case.

  38. caj111 says:

    On more than one occasion I’ve left an organizer that I put receipts and other essential information in when I’m traveling (frequent flier cards, business cards, etc.) on a Delta flight. Both times, I was able to get it back within a day, as it had my contact information in there. I considered myself very lucky – twice!

    I realize it would not be as attractive for somebody to take home with them as an iPad would be though.

  39. vizsladog says:

    We forgot our daughter once. No, seriously, we did! We forgot to get her a return ticket from Amsterdam to Portland, OR after we attended her graduation from a university in Europe. My wife thought I had gotten the ticket and I thought she had.

    Anyway, the KLM/Delta bunch couldn’t have been more cooperative or helpful (after they stopped laughing). The KLM agents got her on a flight to Seattle and, when we got to Portland, the Delta bunch there made sure that our daughter got messages about the United flight that she was booked on later that day from SEA to PDX. Delta is far from perfect, but they will at least try hard to please. Several people had to go WAY out of their way to bail us out of that gaff, and we won’t forget it.

  40. AI says:

    Just tell them that there was drugs in the iPad and they’ll locate it right away.

  41. dennis says:

    I had someone return to my hotel two weeks after checking out to demand the return of a forgotten bottle of shampoo “with 25% still left in it”. Very angry we did not save it.

  42. jaygerwolf says:

    Sorry to say that it will be an expensive lesson. I hate to reiterate but the other poster say but how many time do you hear to check for your belongings. Not to mention the biggest of all, if you ask the airline personnel about storing anything in the seat back pocket is not allowed.

  43. dourdan says:

    he must have had allot of carry on with him. because if i had an ipad with me that would be my first priority

  44. DanKelley98 says:

    United has been absolutely worthless for years. My opinion.

  45. flynnfx says:

    Don’t ever fly United. They break guitars, I hear….

  46. ShariC says:

    As a matter of service, airlines should have the flight attendants walk through the empty cabin and check for items left behind. They can tag them with the seat number or section they found them in and box them for future claiming If they aren’t claimed in three months, they can sell them or toss them. This wouldn’t take much time (possibly no more than 10 minutes) and it would be a courtesy to the passengers.

    The attitude of a lot of commenters seems to be, “too bad, he made a mistake.” Every person makes mistakes, and this is a service situation, not someone randomly leaving it on a park bench. The attitudes I see here seem to betray more than a little bitterness and judgment about the nature of the object lost (an iPad, which is seen as an expensive fanboy toy) rather than about the situation itself.

    We all want a more compassionate world and better service, but we have to first exercise that compassion ourselves and support the people who are denied such service in order to show that both have sufficient overall value to a broad consumer base for companies to institute new policies and habits. If your attitude is “tough luck”, then the companies can say the same because they know you’re not going to expect any better from them than you offer yourself.

  47. Enpatchap says:

    I just left mine on a united flight from LA to Las Vegas. I went back to the airport and filed a claim. At that time they also gave me the numbers for the other airports where the plane was headed next. They called the next day when they found it. I couldn’t have been happier with the service. Maybe it’s just me because I got mine back, but how can you say they don’t care when they set up numbers for each airport, give out claim tickets for insurance, set yp automatex e-mails, store the found items, and probably return the vast majority of what they find…

  48. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Just buy another one. No big deal.

    -Steve Jobs

  49. EverCynicalTHX says:

    How dare they not find the stuff he left on the airplane,..that’s their job dammit!

    If they can’t do proper detective work and solve these cases pronto why the hell are we sending pilots to 4 years of detective school!

  50. Extended-Warranty says:

    Why do I have the feeling that the airline looked for it and it was gone. What else do you expect from them? Oh I know, you want them to buy you a new iPad or give you a free flight because you lost a very expensive item.

    Does anyone have personal responsibility anymore?

  51. Carlee says:

    How is Bob sure that some other passenger didn’t pick up the iPad? Since it was in the seat back pocket, it might not be as noticeable (compared to if it was just on the seat) but maybe somebody saw it and thought “finders keepers”?

    I don’t understand why he writes (in his email) “I could make excuses about how they made us late getting into Seattle and I was in a rush…” The flight still took the same amount of time (presumably) so it’s not like he was forced to de-plane within a certain time frame. Like if you know you’ll be landing in 30 minutes, you’d have enough time to put away stuff – none of which has to do with if the flight was delayed or not.

    I’ve put my camera in the seat back pocket, and water bottles, but I’m pretty paranoid that I’ll forget something that I avoid putting stuff in the pocket unless it’s a really long flight and I’d be using the stuff periodically over the course of the flight. But once you know it’s almost time to land, wouldn’t you put the stuff away? (Unless this is an international flight to the US and you no longer have access to your carry-ons, 1 hour before landing? And before you say that Homeland Security no longer has that policy – it happened on a flight that I was on, about a month ago).

  52. NightStalker3 says:

    Life Lesson #909

  53. gamehendge2000 says:

    I fly all the time. How come I am never lucky enough to score some idiot’s forgotten iPad? Not fair

  54. InsanePerson says:

    Me thinks one of the airplane cleaners is playing Fruit Ninja on their brand new iPad right about now.

  55. gman863 says:

    Note to Bob:

    Did you purchase your iPad less than 90 days before it disappeared?

    Did you use a credit card to purchase the iPad?

    If the answer is “yes” to both questions, check your cardmember benefits. Many cards offer a replacement of items “lost, stolen or damaged” within 90 days of purchase. Read the card issuer’s terms carefully: some have loopholes excluding certain lost items. If you don’t have the brochure with the fine print of what’s covered, call the “800” number on the back of the card.

    It’s worth a shot…

  56. SissyOPinion says:

    “My big suspicion is that the device went into a box and will eventually end up for sale at their overgoods center because no one will take a little bit of extra time to help find its owner.”

    My big suspicion is one of Bob’s seat-mates picked themselves up a slightly used iPad during their travels.

  57. Cyniconvention says:

    …Would Data Plans for the thing even work that high in the air? If so, that’s impressive…

  58. Doubts42 says:

    My call, like anyone cares, is that the blame is 50/50.

    Bob of course should be more careful of his overpriced status gadgets (That’s really jealousy speaking), so the final blame goes to him. if he had been more careful there would be no issue.
    But United really dropped the ball too. If he hadn’t left the airport yet someone could have taken the “be a fucking human” ideal and made some sort of effort to help him out.

    Sadly, I think all Bob can do at this point is chalk it up as a learning experience and choose a different airline from here on.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      I agree. Of course, some other posters have brought up the thought that another passenger could have taken it and it wasn’t on the plane anymore so United couldn’t have done anything about that. It sucks for Bob but I doubt he’s getting it back at this point. He could keep checking the MoblieMe feature in case someone took it.

  59. photozz says:

    We left a bag on a Frontier flight that landed at 12:30pm. We made it through security before we realised the mistake. This was not just clothes, this was a bag full of several hundred dollars worth of merchandise for a con we were attending the next day. No one would let us back through and we were told that we had to wait for the next flight to come in (two hours later) before anyone could bring it through for us. Everyone in security and baggage pretty much stonewalled us. I ran to the ticket counter for Frontier and after explaining the situation to the agent, had a gate pass in less than 2 minutes. Got back through and retrieved the bag in less than 30 minutes.

  60. lincolnparadox says:

    Contact the local PD. Tell them that you now believe that the item was stolen. A detective will be assigned to you. S/he will contact United. S/he will also contact Apple. They will lojack your iPad.

    My guess is the same as everyone else, some Flight Attendant has it. When you find out that a UAFA stole from you, feel free to let us (and UA corporate) know how well you were treated.

    • Doubts42 says:

      Where do you live that the police department has enough detectives on the force sitting around doing nothing. he left it behind, it was not stolen. the detectives in most cities have a back log of real crime to deal with. They don’t have time to trace your lost toys for you.

  61. Sorry4UrInconvenience says:

    It sucks when others won’t pay for our mistakes with their own time/money/effort. United is in the airline travel business, not the returning a lost iPad to a yuppie turd business.

  62. damageddude says:

    It has been a long time since I worked at an airline, but as I recall, electronic items that didn’t immediately find new owners with sticky fingers, would end up in bins in lost luggage. An effort would be made to find the correct owners but if there was no name on the device or no report filed then that would be it. And even with the report filed some items weren’t returned for various reasons — imprecise report, item was found at a different time the report was filed and the two never crossed paths (pre-computers aside from ticketing) etc.

    If he thinks it is in a box, he should go back to the airport terminal to see if he can look for the device in lost luggage. More likely the iPad has a new owner by now and probably had the new owner minutes after he abandoned his iPad.

  63. mrbonuscup says:

    I left my PSP in the back of the seat in front of me. And left security as well. I went to the United person near the baggage claim and asked them to call back to the plane and see if the cleaning crew recovered it. About 20 mins later my psp came down the baggage claim in Denver Airport and I was on my way. I thought it was odd that the baggage guy would just throw it on the luggage transporter but I am glad I got it back.

  64. Cyclone says:

    Can’t say I feel bad for Bob.

    I left an iPod in a rental car once. Called and they said they’d look for it but I never heard anything about it again. Do I blame the rental car company? No, it’s my fault. If someone stole it, congrats to them, they have a new iPod because I screwed up.

    Bob should be more mindful of his expensive electronics in the future.

  65. homehome says:

    What’s funny is ppl are actually blaming United for this, when it’s the OP’s fault he left it. And then let’s say they told the attendants something was left, what if somebody already picked it up. Would the OP want United to search everyone off the plane? Then if they did that they would be another article on here about someone bitching that “United search me off the plane. That violates my rights.” You can’t have it both ways.

    Of course, if you make a mistake ask for help, but when you don’t get help on something that is clearly your fault, you can’t someone else worthless, when you were just as if not more worthless for letting it happen.

  66. katewrath says:

    I wish it were otherwise, but stuff left behind on planes vanishes without a trace. I left a year-old $20 wool scarf — pink, green and lavender, very girly and flattering on about 15% of the human race — on a JetBlue plane. I realized this 15 minutes after I left the plane and it was already too late — there wasn’t a single human being who could help me. After 24 hours of hopelessly calling JetBlue numbers, trying to reach a human being, I got lucky: The scarf was at the gate, and if I went to the airport, I could pick it up.

    Drive out to the airport: No scarf. No word of what might have happened to it.

    Go figure. Yeah, I know: Don’t lose stuff. But it’s not just iPads that go missing. It’s also cheap-o, kinda ugly (according to some of my friends) scarves.

    In the end, it was easier to call the original store in Dublin, describe it in my American accent to the Irish salesperson and have a replacement shipped to my home in California.

  67. pyrobryan says:

    Bob’s misfortune is Bob’s fault and no one else’s. Imagine if the airline devoted the resources to tracking down every posession left on their planes. You think ticket prices are bad now?

  68. canadianviking says:

    I left my glasses on a Cathay Pacific flight from Toronto to Hong Kong. I was in Shanghai before I realized it and called the customer service number. They already had my glasses (Hong Kong is their hub) and they said I could pick them up on my way back through Hong Kong about 10 days later.
    On my way back through Hong Kong, my flight was delayed so my layover was super short. A Cathay Pacific employee met me at the gate for my flight back to Canada so I didn’t have to go out through security to pick up my glasses. I was sooo grateful and they were so friendly and helpful about it!

  69. FenrirIII says:

    No sympathy for forgetting a $500 device on a plane.

  70. tiz says:

    were you the very last one to get off the plane? no?

    another passenger swiped it most likely. you left your iPad on the plane, YOU FAIL!

  71. keeper1616 says:

    He doesn’t say anything about going to see the United staff at the airport. If he was still at the airport, then he could have talked to one of them, and they could have called the gate and grabbed the iPad. I have had United do this for me when I left a BlackBerry once.

    If the plane had already left, it is highly probable that the iPad is now in new hands, and those hands do not belong to a United employee.

  72. EcPercy says:


  73. PupJet says:

    Actually, if you look at it, he pointed out the fact that it was his fault. He also provided the fact that United has been, for lack of better wording on my part, worthless in assisting him on the return of the left behind item.

    Think for a moment if it was you and you did this. Would you be so quick to judge the OP then?