Every year, airports and airlines turn up thousands of items travelers have left behind. Most fall into the “small gadget” category such as cell phones, iPods and tablets. I myself lost an expensive pair of noise-canceling headphones that was never recovered.
But sometimes, passengers lose truly weird stuff. Here’s my list of some of the strangest things that have been lost and/or found in airports, followed by tips on how to recover your losses:
Listen as FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney and Editor Anne McDermott dish about some of the really weird stuff:
7 Weirdest Items Lost and Found at the Airport or in a Plane
1. Shrunken Head
A supposedly authentic shrunken head is just one of the many oddities that have turned up at a unique store called the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. Most of the merchandise comes from unclaimed luggage and cargo. Since 1970 (when the store opened), they’ve recovered such items as a Chinese opium pipe, a 5.6 carat diamond hidden in a sock, vacuum-packed frogs, bag pipes, a suit of armor and a stuffed goose.
2. Adventurous Pets
I have to warn you that the saga of Jack the Cat does not have a happy ending – the gallant feline escaped from his travel carrier and then was “lost” at JFK for 61 days before he was ultimately found. Unfortunately, malnutrition and wounds received while wandering took a toll and the cat who became a Facebook favorite was ultimately put down.
3. Rare Beetles
An employee of mine accidentally left some rare dried Rhino beetles on a plane. The specimens which she described as “jewel-like” were a present for a bug-collecting boyfriend, so she was frantic. A few weeks later, they were returned to her in the mail, with a note from the airline saying it was too bad the bugs died and they were sorry for her loss (by the way, her insect-admiring friend absolutely loved them).
4. Intimate Personal Items
Even extremely personal items (like sex toys) are occasionally found on planes, and sometimes in suitcases, as we learned from the latest TSA scandal. An airport maintenance tech told me they talk amongst themselves about finding such things, but just turn them in to lost and found like anything else. Imagine going up to an airline counter to fill out that lost-and-found report.
5. $360,000 bracelet
This caught my eye on a JFK online lost and found site: a woman reported the loss of a “slim, twisted, white gold bracelet, with about 8 or 9 tiny diamonds.” She also mentioned how much it was worth. I hope she’s been reunited with her bracelet but I have my doubts. Tip: don’t entice thieves with price tags.
A bicycle is one of the many weird things that have turned up at Singapore’s Changi Airport, the seventh busiest in the world. They’ve also recovered TV sets, dentures, and portable pianos. If you’re missing a washing machine, check with Changi – they found one there.
7. True Love
I admit, this one’s a stretch, but it could have happened. According to a news item (thoughtfully provided to me by one of my editors), the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries marital woes may have begun at an airport:
“After her four-day business trip to Dubai, Kris apparently didn’t bother to meet [Kim] at the airport when she landed in New York. A sign, many say, things were already getting chilly.” –GulfNews (11-2-11)
People lose all kinds of stuff at while traveling; who’s to save love can’t be one of them?
What to Do if You Lose Something While Traveling
Lost Luggage: Contact your airline immediately, and follow these steps to recover delayed and lost baggage.
Lost Items at Security: Contact the TSA lost and found.
Lost Items on a Plane: This varies from airline to airline – the first step is to go to the carrier’s website and type in “lost and found” and follow directions from there. Some airlines will assist you directly, while others will provide contact information for the airport you visited.