There's nothing quite like that sinking feeling you get the moment you realize you've left something important on a plane. In the chaos of scrambling to get your luggage out of the overhead compartment and stopping someone who doesn't understand the concept of lines from cutting you off as you try to exit, it's easy to forget something now and then. But once you're off the plane, how are you supposed to retrieve your device or other essentials? There are a few steps you should take as soon as you realize your mistake in order to optimize your chances of ever seeing your forgotten item again. Here's what to do.
Get back to the arrival gate ASAP.
If you notice the missing item a short time after you've deplaned, then hurry back to the arrival gate, because there's still a chance your plane is at the gate. Planes have to be cleaned after everyone gets off, so if you think fast enough, this is the simplest solution to get your belongings back. Make sure you know what seat you had on the plane, because the employee helping you will be able to find what you're looking for more easily if they can go directly to your seat.
Check with your airline's baggage claim office at the airport.
If you don't realize you've left something on the plane until quite some time after you've gotten off, and you're still at the airport but not in your terminal anymore, then head to your airline's baggage claim office. It's better to go in person before trying to call, because face-to-face interactions usually mean more will get done, and faster. It's possible that when the plane was cleaned and the item was found, it was brought to the office.
Contact the airport.
If you've already left the airport, call them to see what procedure that specific location typically follows in order to find lost items.
Fill out a formal lost-and-found form with the airline.
Go online to your airline's website and fill out a form detailing the specifics of your lost item, flight number, seat number, and your personal information. The more details you can give about the time of your flight, gate, airport, description of the item, etc., the better.
Follow up your online form with a call to customer service.
Contact your airline's customer service and ask them what exact steps you need to follow. Different airlines might have different procedures. Ask for the lost-and-found division, if they have one. Let them know you've also already filed a form online. Make sure to leave your contact information with everyone you speak with to increase the ease with which customer service representatives can reach you if your item is located.
Track your devices.
Some items may get sent back to the departure airport, so if you have a device that you can track, like an iPad or iPhone, try using the app to find out exactly where it may be. Unfortunately, if a device is in airplane mode, the tracking app will not work.