Coming back from Miami yesterday, I made the mistake of leaving my Nintendo DS Lite in the storage underneath my seat on British Airways, forgetting it when I left the plane. Since then, it’s been both an enlightening and frustrating experience to learn how poorly the company handles lost items.
Before I’d even left the airport, about 30 to 45 minutes after leaving the plane, I realized I’d left the DS in its game case on the plane. I was getting into my car outside the terminal, so I couldn’t dash into a BA counter for help. Instead, I phoned the main BA number for advice and to see if someone could get it off the aircraft.
I was given a number to call (it was 0208-745-7727, for others who might have lost property at Heathrow). Unfortunately, the office wasn’t open (this was about 7:45am). So I drove to the petrol station at the airport to fill my tank and wait a bit, figuring that it was worthwhile to stay there a bit longer, in case they could get my property quickly.
When someone answered, I quickly learned that BA doesn’t handle lost property themselves. Instead, they contract this out to the Excess Baggage Company, which also handles lost property for all of Heathrow. I was told there was no way they could go onto the plane to check for my DS. Instead, I had to wait until after 11am, for when they get a bulk delivery of everything that is found left on BA planes.
I waited until around 1pm and called back. Nope, nothing was found. I was told to try again the next day, then to try again for seven days altogether. And if it didn’t turn up, then it was probably stolen.
Great. I know security is all about keeping things off of airplanes, but you’d think there were some procedures in place to log what comes off plus you’d hope that items left behind weren’t going to be stolen by those servicing the aircraft.
I decided to try BA again. I called the main number, then was routed over this time to someone from the Aircraft Search department. Aircraft Search? Yes, he explained to me that I should have been sent to this department when I called originally. Had that happened, someone would have gone onto the plane and gotten my DS off.
BA never mentioned this when I called originally, nor did Excess Baggage mention this when I called them as instructed. That sucks, because it would have greatly increased the odds of getting my DS back (along with its game case, headphones and five games).
Next, I tried calling BA Customer Relations, to see if they could do anything to speed up the search process and if there was going to be any compensation if the DS had indeed turned out to be stolen, especially since I’d been incorrectly routed on my call. After about 15 minutes on hold, I decided to take up the offer and send in a request for help via the web. Using this form, off it went. A full day later, I’ve had no response. I’m glad I wasn’t emailing about some lost prescription medicine I needed or anything super crucial.
I had enough energy for one last attempt. I called Excess Baggage again. This time, the agent explained that no deliveries had come in from BA at all in the latest shipment, increasing the chances that my item had been found and not delivered, rather than stolen. I was told again to try back the next day, after 11am.
That’s what I did today. Sadly, it hasn’t come in yet. I was told to keep checking for another five days, especially since my flight came into Terminal 3, which BA rarely uses. That could add to the delay in getting it to me.
I also asked if there was a way to know if any items were found on a particular flight. It seems like it should be pretty easy for someone to check a database somewhere rather than me being kept guessing to see if my DS turns up in the Great Lost Property Lottery. I was told that BA does fill out a paper showing what flights items were found on, but these aren’t given to Excess Baggage.
I went back to BA. Didn’t they have a database they could check? No. But what about these records that are logged? No info on that, other than there was nothing for the customer service agent to check. Would they be compensating me for the loss? No, especially since it could have been taken by one of the other passengers.
I doubt that. I came back business class on BA. The seats all have these little lockable storage compartments under them. The DS wasn’t sitting out on display, for someone to walk off with. For another passenger to have taken it, they would have had to open all the little compartments under each seat when leaving. I highly doubt this happened.
No, if the DS is gone, this is what happened:
- Someone working directly or indirectly for BA checking all the compartments found it, took it and failed to log it.
- The aircraft wasn’t fully checked and cleaned (which wouldn’t surprise me), and so another passenger came across it when sitting in my seat.
Heck, for all I and BA knows, it might be sitting in that compartment still, flying around the skies. People don’t tend to use the compartments, from what I can see. I rarely do because I’m paranoid that I might forget about putting something in them (which is exactly what happened).
Even the customer service rep agreed that if the DS doesn’t turn up, it’s not likely that another passenger took it. And so I wait, hoping the next five days might have better news.
The loss won’t be a crisis for me, of course. I can get another DS and suffer the embarrassment of taking less care of mine than I always warn the kids to do with theirs! It’s more annoying, than anything. It’s definitely my fault for forgetting the darn thing. But I’m really surprised at how unresponsive BA was in trying to find it when I called, especially at a time when it was more likely to get found. Frankly, they didn’t really seem to care. I’ll keep that in mind.