Leaving something behind on a plane can be a pretty stressful and difficult experience. You might think that your odds of recovering your lost item are extremely low but that is not necessarily the case. In this article, I will break down how to recover an item from the JetBlue lost and found and give you an idea of what the process is like.
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JetBlue lost and found
Items left on an airplane are returned to their 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 gate agent immediately. However, if you have already left the airport then you will need to file a claim online.
Below, I will walk you through the steps of what to do when you lose an item on a JetBlue plane.
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Still at the airport?
If you believe that you have lost an item on a JetBlue plane and you are still at the airport then your first point of contact is JetBlue (not the airport).
If you are just exiting the plane, walking down the jet bridge, strolling through the terminal, or still within the airport and you realize that you left something in the plane you should immediately contact a JetBlue agent.
You could do this by stopping at one of the desks at the gate for that airline or heading to an information desk area. I would personally try to head to the nearest gate to my flight and speak with someone right there.
If you recognize any crew members from your flight those would be the best people to speak with in the moment.
They might be able to head into the plane and retrieve your item right then and there.
But in other cases they may not have that access and they might end up sending your lost item to baggage services.
Between flights, airlines will usually freshen up the planes. This would typically involve picking up trash, wiping down surfaces, and replacing items like linens. So this is hopefully the time when an airline will discover your lost goods.
This process may begin as soon as passengers are deplaning and that is why it is so important to notify an airline agent that you have a lost item on board.
Some crews are much more effective than others which means that not every crew member is going to give your seat area a close look.
After an aircraft is finished flying for the day it will likely get a more thorough cleaning that night. If for some reason your item was not found before, this might be the time when it is found.
This means that you may need to take into consideration the final destination of your aircraft and follow up with airline agents at that location. Ideally, the airline will trace where your plane ended up that night but it is best to take this type of inquiry into your own hands.
Related: JetBlue Boarding Policy Guide
If you’ve already left the airport
If you have already left the airport then JetBlue recommends that you file a report online. (This needs to be filed within 14 days of the item getting lost.)
The online reports are easy to file and they are processed through a place called NetTracer which is an entity used by a lot of airlines.
The form is going to ask you a lot of basic questions regarding the lost item. You’ll need to select things like the category, color, and date lost. You’ll also be able to input things like the brand name, model, serial number, etc.
They note that: “The serial number of your device is the most efficient way to reunite you with your lost item.”
So do your best to get your serial number. If you are looking for a lost Apple item, the serial number can be found in iTunes under Device List or found on Apple under your iCloud account.
You then need to supply your contact information and then also your itinerary information, which includes your departure airport, arrival airport, and flight number.
After you submit all of your information you should receive a lost report number and a confirmation email.
If your item is discovered then you will receive notification from JetBlue and then you will need to provide verification that you owned the item.
Airport lost and founds
If there is a possibility that you may have left your item in the airport such as around the TSA security point or perhaps in the customs area then you likely need to contact the airport and ask about their lost and found.
And even if you believe your item was left on the plane you still probably want to follow up with the airport’s lost and found if you are unable to retrieve your items from the airline. Sometimes lost items can bounce around and end up in various parts of the airport.
Tip: Airports often have a dedicated webpage for the lost and found and also a specific email address and phone number that you can call.
Will airlines return items?
In an ideal scenario, the process of recovering your item will look something like this:
- You report the lost item,
- A JetBlue staff member locates your lost item,
- The airline sends you a notification
- You verify ownership of the item
- You then make shipping arrangements to retrieve your items.
With that said, you never quite know what an airline is going to do when it comes to lost items. But don’t underestimate their willingness to help.
You would be surprised about some of the stories out there regarding generous airline employees.
I’ve seen stories of people leaving items like books from the library on a plane and the airline returning the book to the library (before it was even due).
I’ve also heard of countless instances of crew members going above and beyond to scramble to deliver the lost item to a passenger about to board another flight or sitting around at baggage claim. There are some really good people out there.
So if you leave something on the plane there certainly is hope that you will get it back but it is just never guaranteed.
One reason is that the item may just get lost within the system or it may just simply never be found. But there also is the darker side to lost and found.
For example, there are reports of aircraft cleaners finding laptops and selling them for a quick profit. I tend to think that these instances are in the small minority but the point is that they can happen.
So you never really know what you might get.
The communication problem
The common problem with lost items at the airport or the airlines is usually communication.
Sometimes it can be really difficult to receive updates or to get into contact with the right person. No communication is not always a horrible sign because there are some instances out there of items mysteriously getting returned despite no communication from the airline.
The communication problem is why it is really smart to attach your name and contact information such as your phone number or email address to your items that you travel a lot with. This could be done by printing out a small sticker or even getting something sewn into your clothing.
But if you have contact information on your items the odds of you retrieving them back go up substantially.
In addition to putting your contact information on your items, there are two ways that you might be able to increase the odds of recovering your item and that is by leveraging your cabin class and status.
You might have better luck if you are flying first class and leave an item in your seat since there are fewer seats, more contact with crew members, and JetBlue might feel compelled to go above and beyond for you given your ticket class (e.g., Mint).
For example, I once had an item misplaced at an airport and the airline said that because I was flying first class they were going to deliver the item to my hotel.
Also, if you are a frequent flyer such as a Mosaic member then you might be able to leverage that to get better service for tracking down your item. So when on phone calls or writing emails I would try to mention these things but just don’t take it so far so that you sound like an entitled prick.
How long should you wait?
Every airline will have its own waiting period but JetBlue states that they will search for your item approximately 30 days from the date the item is reported missing.
If they are not successful in locating the lost item they should send you an email letting you know that they have not been able to find it.
If your item is located JetBlue will send you an email with a link so that you can purchase the shipping to have your item sent back to you.
JetBlue will not destroy passports if they find them. Instead they will send them to the US Department of State, Passport Services, and Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section. However, all other personal documents will be destroyed.
Other items that are never claimed will be salvaged and all proceeds will reportedly be donated to charity.
The key to recovering a lost item with JetBlue is to act quickly and try to get a gate agent to search your seat area as soon as possible. If that doesn’t happen then filing a claim online is the route you will have to go. The more detailed and specific your report is, the better chances you have of seeing your item again but at the end of the day you never really know how things like this will shake out.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.