Last week, I wrote about my missing Nike+ GPS Sportswatch as part of my Writing 101 Challange. Talking about it made me realize that I have been on a quest for my misplaced journal for over a month. During my August on call week, I was repacking my work tote in the galley before landing. I put my journal in a clear drawer at eye level momentarily while I rearranged things. We hit turbulence and intinctively, I latched all the galley compartments shut, including the one where I placed my journal.
Shared bodacious Mexican Hot Chocolate at Naked Lounge…
There wasn’t anything particularly special about the journal aside from it being a Moleskine which I purchased at the Barnes & Noble in Altamonte Springs, Florida. It’s primary function was keeping track of my layover adventures, blog task list and brainstorming, and later my complete notes for my online wine course. I usually never take it out of my bag during flight, so I do not leave it behind. Sadly, by 9PM Pacific Time, my body was fighting to stay awake, and I got careless in my packing.
After we worked to Los Angeles, I immediately turned around and deadheaded back to Atlanta on the red-eye in an uncomfortable middle seat between a cranky older gent and an entitled twenty-something. At least my poor journal was spared the crushing humiliation of being backed over by the hotel shuttle upon my return to Atlanta. (Yes, more on that later.) It wasn’t until I arrived at the hotel I stay at between flights and I was surveying the damage to my personal effects, that I discovered the journal missing. Taking a deep breath between wiping away my angry tears, I realized precisely where I left it.
After playing phone tag with the LAX PD and the LAX Lost and Found, I was redirected to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scotsboro, Alabama, courtesy of a helpful colleague. Panic set in when I saw that unclaimed items after a certain amount of time were sold to the public. I immediately telephoned their office, and spoke with a lovely lady named Barb. She read over the e-mail I sent to their office and pointed me to LostandFound.Aero. Before she hung up, she gave me a solid tidbit: UBC receives unclaimed baggage and suitcases, for individual articles, one must contact the individual carrier’s lost and found.
Within minutes of e-mailing the Lost and Found Aero office, I received a reply.
We’re so sorry that you have just heard about us. We don’t see where you have filed a lost report, but by the information below, we can pretty much tell you that we do not have your item. We receive numerous journals and the first thing we would look for is your contact information. Even without a report having been filed, we would have contacted you by phone.
We may have missed your contact information so we will conduct a special search based on the information below and encourage you to file a report in the meantime. You can respond to this email with the 6 digit Lost Report Number you will receive.
If we locate the journal, we will be in touch immediately.
Without hesitation (I actually stopped mid-sentence to follow through), I followed the e-mail link, completed the required form, and replied with my case number. I was relieved that had kept my thorough notes and the e-mail record for my original submission.
The key points for submitting a lost and found report are quite simple, and while it may seem like common sense, mistakes are constantly made due to emotions and the rush of every day life. Take your time to fill out the necessary forms accurately. If you need to prepare notes and organize your thoughts ahead of time, you can, but remember you are working against a clock.
- Name: First and Last with any preferred methods of address (Mr. Ms., Dr., Judge, The Grand Master of the Foxy…)
- Contact Information: Depending on the system, it may ask for a telephone number and e-mail address. Make sure the number you leave receives messages, and the e-mail address is one you check regularly. If you want your stuff back, the agency has to be able to get hold of you. Double and triple check the accuracy of these pieces of information, or even if the item is located, contact won’t be made.
- Critical Information: Any information you can provide about the event and the item will assist handlers in locating the item. Note the date, time, airline carrier, flight segment, flight number, seat number, possible locations of where it may have been dropped, and anything else you may think will be helpful in locating the item.
- Follow up: Give a reasonable amount of time between correspondence before following up. There is no need to be a watch dog, but don’t be a loosey goosey either. If the item is of considerable value, immediately submit a police report.
Here is a snippet of my example:
- Date of Loss: 08/21/14
- Number of Items: 1
- Brand: Moleskine
- Model: Black, leather Notebook (5″ x8.25″))
- Description: On inside cover of the notebook, my name and phone number are listed. Contents include notes for wine course, layover notes, and blog planning calendar. There is an attached elastic which keeps it closed.
- Flight Information: (omitted)
The same day I returned from LA, I soothed my nerves by working to Santiago, Chile later that night. While shopping at the Costanera Center, I purchased a replacement journal at Antarctica Libros. While the design and weight are similar, I was starting from scratch. I may not be holding my breath, but it would be amazing if my original journal found it’s way home. Next time, I’ll go over the importance of ensuring all of bags are loaded onto the hotel shuttle van before you board.