Losing an item when flying can be an incredibly stressful and frustrating experience. But there are many people who lose items on planes or in airports every day that get reunited with their valuables — even expensive items like laptops and tablets!
So if you recently lost an item on an American Airlines flight there is still hope for you. In this article, I will break down what to expect with the American Airlines lost and found process.
American Airlines Lost and Found
Items left on American Airlines aircraft are returned to their rightful owners all the time so if you have left something on the plane don’t lose hope and just follow these guidelines.
If you are exiting or have just exited the plane and realize you left an item on the plane you should contact the nearest gate agent immediately. However, if you have already left the airport then you will need to file a claim online.
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Still at the airport
If you are just exiting the plane or have already exited the plane and are still located in the airport then your best course of action is to contact an American Airlines agent.
I would advise you to head over to the gate that you arrived at and try to speak to an agent at the desk right there. Even better, if you can locate a crew member or even a pilot from your flight they might be willing and capable of going back on the plane and retrieving your item.
If they are searching for a small item such as a wedding ring and they cannot locate it American Airlines planes are deep cleaned every night. This means that the cleaning crew might be able to find it later so you still have hope but the process to recovering the item will be a little different (you’ll likely have to rely on the online process discussed below).
If you have already made your way through the airport and you were not able to make your way back to the gates without going through TSA airport security then you may want to contact an American Airlines agent at an information desk.
Provide them with all of your details like your flight number and a detailed description of the item and they might be able to take action right there on the spot. There are reports of people getting their items delivered to them while they are waiting at baggage claim services so there is a possibility you can get your item back before even leaving the airport.
If they can’t help you then be sure to get clarification on the next step. They may ask you to file a claim online yourself or they may be able to take some initiative for you. Either way, just make sure that you are very clear on what your next step is to retrieve your items before you leave the airport.
If you suspect that you may have lost your item at or near a TSA security checkpoint chances are that your item may have been placed in the TSA lost and found. TSA has its own lost and found department for different airports. You can find the contact information for the relevant airport you need here.
Around the airport
If you think that your item may just be sitting around the terminal somewhere then you likely want to contact the lost and found for the airport. Typically, an airport will have a phone number for its lost and found and a dedicated email address that you can get in touch with.
Below are some of the main airports that American Airlines serves. You should be able to find the contact information for the airport pretty easily.
If you think you may have left the item within a bar or restaurant at the airport then try to contact that individual business. Sometimes contacting a specific business within an airport can be difficult to do so one method is to contact a business nearby and ask one of their employees to walk over to the business you were trying to contact and inquire about your item.
I actually had to do this one time when I left my wallet in the rental car and the Avis rental car desk was not answering the phone. I got into contact with one of the neighboring rental car services and they walked over and got somebody at Avis on the phone for me.
As soon as you get in touch with someone your goal is to quickly get a point of contact via email. This will help you keep everything in writing and allow you to confirm details such as the location that the item should be delivered and how shipping will work out.
Try to insist on getting a (non-generic) email contact as soon as possible and don’t rely on someone to just “get back with you.”
If the entity locates your item they may choose to hand it over to the airport lost and found so that they do not have to deal with it but you can also work out a situation where they mail the item to you directly (that’s what I have done in the past).
The situation can sometimes take a long time to get worked out so my advice to you would be to be as patient as possible while these things are processed. Try to keep in touch on a weekly basis until you receive your item because if you do not hear anything there is a chance that your “claim” could be closed without you getting notified.
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If you’ve already left the airport
If you have already left the airport or you are not able to contact an agent while you are still there then you should file a claim online.
American Airlines uses a third-party service to process their lost and found claims. It is a different service used from other airlines like JetBlue but you will be going through the website: www.chargerback.com.
The online form will ask you to fill out the following information:
- Category — you will need to choose the type of category your lost item belongs to. Once you select the item type such as an iPhone you will then need to input more description details (this is where you can enter your serial number)
- Flight information — provide your airline and flight number
- Date you lost the item
- Airport that you lost item at
- Unique description — if there is anything that makes your item stand out this is the place to and put those details
- If you were item has a tracking device like an AirTag you can list that here
- Contact information — input all of your basic contact information
Once you finish inputting all of your details you will be issued a tracker number. If your item is discovered then you should be hearing back from American Airlines via email. In the event they track down your item you can then arrange for your item to be shipped to you and you will have to cover the cost.
American Airlines states that they will search for your item for up to 30 days.
If you think that you left an item in the Admirals Club then once again my advice would be to first try to persuade an American Airlines agent to check the lounge for you. If you were not able to get someone to check the lounge for you then you likely will need to file the claim online as shown above.
When you are not sure
If you simply have no idea where your lost item might be then my advice would be to contact all of the departments above.
Third-party claim providers
If you are searching for solutions to your lost and found issues you may come across businesses that require you to pay to handle your lost and found claims. I would generally try to avoid these services.
Unless they have an amazing reputation for their services, there is not a need to pay someone to file a lost and found claim for you. Also, some of the lost and found providers for the airlines explicitly ban these type of services. So my advice would be to work directly with the airline, airport, or TSA to retrieve your item.
If you lose an item when flying American Airlines your first step is to check with agents at the airport to see if they can immediately retrieve your item. If that is not practical then you can file a claim online and American Airlines will search for your item for 30 days. In the event that they locate the item you can pay to have it shipped to you.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.