Virgin Atlantic engineer names hand luggage item most frequently lost onboard

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Passengers frequently lose items while travelling onboard, with everything from passports to keys slipping down the cracks between seats. Though engineers are commonly known for their job role fixing aircraft, they are also the ones called on rescue missions when passenger belongings go missing.

A Virgin Atlantic certifying engineer who has been working with the airline for 16 years said there is one item she is increasingly becoming an “expert” at rescuing.

Speaking as part of Virgin Atlantic’s Flight School on Instagram, Kathy Johnson explained: “I am a certifying engineer currently based mainly in the cabin.

“So among a multitude of work I do things like make sure your seat works and make sure your inflight entertainment works.

“I am also the person they call if you lose anything in your seat.

“I am becoming quite an expert at finding AirPods.”

This is due to the fact that AirPods easily fall out of passenger ears or their secure box, and find their way into gaps within the seat.

Of course, AirPods are not the only items that go missing onboard.

In 2018, a survey by Hong Kong airlines named the top 10 items passengers lose on flights.

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These included iPads, mobile phones, neck pillows, water bottles, articles of clothing, scarves, glasses, kindles, cameras and passports.

Occasionally though, some less expected items are spotted by the flight crew.

Some airline workers shared the weird and wonderful items they have discovered after passengers had disembarked.

Posting to a Reddit forum, one ground staff member listed: “Any sort of electronic devices – from cell phones over iPads to laptops; passports – fake and real; wallets; a baby in a maxi cosi carrier, parents came back from the plane – don’t ask me how they forgot their kid; pet in a carrier box, owner didn’t come back – animal was given to animal sanctuary; back packs; trolleys; crutches; hotel vouchers, documents and so on.” [SIC]

They added: “If the flight is still there and we know who it belongs to we bring it to them, but often they are already gone so bad luck.

“What also often surprises me is what people don’t pick up from the baggage belts.

“It starts with normal luggage – baby strollers (or lost and found is full of them), wheelchairs, sports baggage (we have a bunch of diving equipment and surfboards downstairs) – it’s just weird.”

Meanwhile, a flight attendant recounted: “I’ve found maps, wedding rings, and trivial pursuit cards.”

Luckily, in most instances, these items are located by crew or cleaning staff and handed in to the lost property for the airport at which the plane is currently parked.

Heathrow Airport, for example, lists all lost property found onboard in an online database.

Passengers who find their item can then contact the airport to claim it.

However, they may have to pay a service fee of up to £20, plus cover postage and packing if the item needs to be delivered.

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