Can I get back the notebook I left on the plane?
June 16, 2011 7:29 AM   Subscribe

Can I get back the notebook I left on the plane?

I left a notebook on an American Airlines flight to SFO. Not valuable to anyone else, but has some research notes I'd like to get back. But I'm trapped in some kind of loop: American Airlines says that to retrieve an item left on a plane, you have to contact the lost and found office at the airport, while the airport says if the item was left on a plane you have to contact the airline. Is there in fact no way to get back an object you left on an American Airlines flight?
posted by escabeche to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
The airline I work for holds lost property at SFO, so I would be inclined to believe the airport. Have you called American yet? Try and get a local number and speak to someone on the ground. I hope you get your property back.
posted by londonmark at 7:41 AM on June 16, 2011

Have you tried calling American Airlines and requesting to be escalated up past the immediate CSR that answers the call?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:41 AM on June 16, 2011

I would hazard a guess that the cleaning crew has thrown the notebook away together with all the other paper...your time and effort may be best spent recreating your notes.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:41 AM on June 16, 2011

Huh. I read this question assuming you meant a notebook computer.

I agree with koahiatamadl -- if it's a paper notebook, it's probably been binned.
posted by AmandaA at 7:43 AM on June 16, 2011

Ack, I also immediately assumed computer. Yeah, the outlook is not good, sorry.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:44 AM on June 16, 2011

Oh, sorry -- yes, what I left is a paper notebook.

American's lost and found page doesn't have a phone number or e-mail contact, and the SFO lost and found page specifically says not to call them for items left on planes. I haven't tried calling the general American customer service number because I assumed I'd spend 25 minutes on hold and then be told I had to contact SFO lost and found.
posted by escabeche at 7:45 AM on June 16, 2011

Airlines are sort of scattered when it comes to lost items - it seems to depend on the local agents. Some are dealt with through baggage claim - I would call SFO and ask to be transferred to the American Airlines Baggage office and see if that's where it's handled. Alternately, some agents just hold it at a gate or at the customer service desk - again, if you can't go down there yourself the try to call through the airport phone number, not throught the AA phone number.

Unfortunately, it's distinctly possible that the notebook was either thrown away, or worse was not discovered until later in the flight itinerary, and is sitting at some other airport, sad and alone.
posted by muddgirl at 8:11 AM on June 16, 2011

I assumed I'd spend 25 minutes on hold and then be told I had to contact SFO lost and found.

Quite possibly. It depends on the quality of human you (eventually) get to speak with. Your goal is to talk to an employee of American at SFO, so whether you go this route or through the airport as muddgirl recommends, I'm afraid you should be prepared for a rather frustrating series of phonecalls.
posted by londonmark at 8:22 AM on June 16, 2011

1. Gather your documentation (your ticket stub if you have it, your email itinerary with the flight number if you don't)
2. Grab your favorite beverage
3. Get comfortable in front of your computer or TV
4. Mute the computer or TV and put your phone on speaker
5. Cue up kitten videos, avoid Scott Walker news
6. Call AA general customer service
7. Watch kitten videos while on hold
8. Be polite and apologetic when you get an actual person, act like they are doing a huge favor by helping you
9. Be ready to offer payment for shipping notebook to you
10. Good luck
posted by desjardins at 8:58 AM on June 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Your notebook is most likely at SFO lost and found. The airplane cleaners usually empty the seat pockets. In my experience, calling those offices plus visiting and filling out a lost property form helps. I got a blackberry back this way. I left several detailed messages at the L&F office that were frustratingly never returned, but my phone was eventually mailed to me by the airport.
posted by swingbraid at 9:07 AM on June 16, 2011

When we left our bag of small electronics (iPods etc.) on our AA flight, we called the AA counter at the airport so we could get personal service. They helped us track it down and we were able to get it back the next morning.
posted by wallaby at 10:55 AM on June 16, 2011

It may well be gone at this point, but it's worth a try. I'd call the airport operator (800.435.9736) and ask for the AA baggage office at SFO (you could try asking for the ticket counter/administrative office if that fails). Tell them what happened and ask where lost and found items from their aircraft wind up at SFO. Keep following the chain and maybe you'll get lucky.

It's also possible that no one found the notebook at SFO, but it was turned in at a later stop (more likely if it was hidden in the seatback pocket and the aircraft only had a short layover). If you strike out at SFO, you could try to figure out where the plane went next and try again there. Good luck!
posted by zachlipton at 12:00 PM on June 16, 2011

The AA baggage office at SFO didn't have my notebook, but they did have lots of other stuff left on planes and were helpful and friendly; I assume my notebook was thrown out, but if anybody else loses something on an American flight, I recommend checking at the baggage office at the destination airport.
posted by escabeche at 10:54 PM on June 17, 2011

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