Passenger Loses iPad In Business Class Seat, Gets Reunited With It Two Years Later

In January 2020 a passenger lost their iPad on an American Airlines flight from London Heathrow to Dallas – Fort Worth. As they explained it “somehow got ‘swallowed’ by [the] seat” in business class.

The passenger reports that the pilot (!) helped him to “partially strip away some of the seat upholstery including the life vest” but they weren’t able to find it. And they abandoned the search.

  • He had a connecting flight to catch in Dallas
  • The aircraft had a quick turn, so they didn’t think they’d get much from maintenance in the interim (since real help would mean delaying the flight).

The iPad’s batter lasted long enough that the passenger was able to track its journey to Miami and Charlotte, but when the battery ran out so did any hope of ever seeing the device again.

Fast forward to May 2022 and the passenger got a phone call from an American Airlines mechanic in Tulsa. The man called to say that the iPad was found while the aircraft was in maintenance. Because it had been locked with a startup screen that showed the passengers number, he was able to reach out after recharging it.

The passenger tweeted @AmericanAir to help. And the iPad is being shipped home to its owner – two years and a pandemic later. Kudos to American Airlines mechanic Roberto in Tulsa and to the American Airlines twitter team! And yes passenger had already replaced his iPad.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Great story but why wasn’t that handled within a day or week given the LI battery risk

  2. I’m glad he got his iPad back but this is a major failing on Americans part. That the iPad was trapped in the seat Should have grounded the airplane. They didn’t know where it was and whether or not reclining the seat might crush the device sparking a battery fire mid flight in an inaccessible location. American got very lucky this didn’t turn into a disaster.

  3. An ipad battery is a larger potential hazard than a phone battery. AA should have handled it earlier.

  4. Well done Roberto, another failure by AA.

    That said we do now at least have a data point of a lithium battery knocking around who knows where inside an airliner without, thankfully, incident.

    As others have opined. With the size of battery in the thing in comparison to a cell phone the cabin should’ve been pulled apart overnight to retrieve it at the very latest.

    Why wasn’t it entered into a tech log, or a urgent action list to be completed after its last sector of the day? And I’m being generous in that approach.

  5. Who was the dumbass that let his ipad get “swallowed” by the seat!
    What an idiot.

  6. AA should’ve put the plane out of service and charged the idiot for the downtime.

  7. .Same exact situation occured w/ my husband on a British Airways flight, IAD-LHR about 6 years ago. First class seat–it was a Samsung 9″ Note tablet, slid down between the seat and the capsule holding the seat, then into a slot that went into the nether regions fo the aircraft.

    My husband couldn’t retrieve the tablet, asked the flight crew upon arrival in London. Nobody could see it nor reach it: “consider it gone,” he was told. The crewe left the plane, seemingly unconcerned.

    So, while in laytover at Heathrow hubby went duty-free shopping and picked up a replacement device. He also notified British Airways of a possible dangerous device, and filed a lost item claim with them. Never heard back from BA, nothing saying the sevice was found.

    Meanwhile, somewhere in the belly of a BA jet there lies a Sabsung Note w/an aging lithium batttery….

  8. What a GREAT story! Kinda horrifying that it took 2 years to find the thing. I agree that people need to be a little more careful with their electronics on airplanes. I’ve learned to ‘count my stuff’ as we’re on final approach. I wear shirts with two pockets on flights so little things don’t disappear. And I try to pack everything in the same place every trip.

    A cute story … my husband’s driver license slipped out of his fingers down between the seats on a United flight. He and the FA dug and pried and lit up the area … they could finally see it but couldn’t reach it. The FA said “wait one” and disappeared into coach. We thought she’d given up. FA came back with a 4-year-old girl in her arms. Showed the kid the license and she reached right down and grabbed it. We went back later to thank our little miracle worker and give her a gift … she was beaming, mama was proud, and the whole section applauded her.

  9. Easy way to ensure flight crew gets it out – report a dangerous flammable device has been left in your airline seat (after you have left the airport of course ). You might get a visit by the authorities , but they will get it out

  10. Flying.While.High.Again says:
    May 17, 2022 at 9:06 am
    Who was the dumbass that let his ipad get “swallowed” by the seat!
    What an idiot.

    I bet the passenger is smart enough to know “dumbass” is two words and “ipad” is spelled with a capital p.

  11. Many years ago on USAirways, I was in F flying into SAN and happened to leave my book in the seatback pocket when leaving the plane – this was back when we all read actual books. Anyway, I didn’t realize I didn’t have the book until several days later, and assumed it was lost forever. For the return flight, I was sitting in the gate area of SAN, when I was called to the desk. The GA presented me with my missing book! I don’t know if they just tracked it by the seat they found it in, or if I had been using a boarding pass for a bookmark. Either way, I was quite impressed that they had gone to the effort of identifying me as the owner, tracking that I would be back in the airport for the return flight, and having it there to return to me.

  12. Sometime in the 1990’s my family and I flew from Milano to Chicago. Passports were scrutinized at check-in and also at the gate. We could not find them on arrival in Chicago, and we looked everywhere. We knew we had them when we boarded the plane. We had to get 4 new passports (and pay a substantial fine) in order to continue on our connecting flight. AA was helpful in that we spent so much time looking that we missed our original connector and they allowed us to board a later flight.Many months later we received a call from a mechanic in Raleigh. They had removed all of the seats and found our passports between the arm of the window seat and the wall of the plane. We thought this was a unique experience, but now, I wonder how many other similar stories there are?

  13. 10 years ago I lost my wallet which contained more than $1000, also my green card and my grandkids pictures. I filled out a report when I got to my destination, but never heard anything. I called a few times to no avail.

  14. I learned from a very smart lady that it’s helpful to tape your business card to the back of any electronics that you plan to leave the house with. The particular problem she was trying to solve was everyone in her company had the same Dell laptop. So I started doing that for all my stuff. I left a Kindle on an American flight, and got a call the next day from somebody at DFW. They had found it before I even knew it was lost, and agreed to send it to me.

  15. How many recalled due to spontaneous combustion and banned by the Department of Transportation Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones are still lost in the aircraft seats until an aircraft maintenance technician needs to repair that seat?

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