Battling US Airways for My Lost iPad

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In preparation for my 8am flight out of Boston yesterday morning, I decided not to go to sleep on Sunday night. I pulled an all-nighter, with just a short nap around 2am, and left my house at 4:15 to catch a bus to Logan International Airport. As I settled into US Airways Flight 1231 from BOS > CLT, I planned to watch “Hart of Dixie” on my iPad, so I put it in the seat back pocket until use of electronic devices was approved.

You know where this is going, right? I fell asleep on the flight, and how. I was so asleep that by the time we landed, I had to scramble to gather my things & get off the plane. I did a cursory visual sweep of my seat as I left, but nothing seemed to be left behind. Of course, my iPad was still there, tucked away in its black neoprene case, sandwiched between the vomit bag & the AirMall catalog.

I didn’t realize it until I was already on my next flight to Savannah. Because there was some time before take-off, the flight attendant was kind enough to let me run to the gate next door, where I’d deplaned after my first leg. Another kindly US Airways employee ran back onto the plane to take a look, & he checked with the crew to see whether someone might have picked it up or turned it in. No dice – and I had to run back to my flight before he could complete his search.

I recognize that it’s my fault that I left behind such a valuable item. Still, I’ve never been so frustrated in my life by the customer service I’m received – or not received – from US Airways. People complain about them, but I’ve never had a problem before – cheap tickets, smooth flights, friendly staff. But as soon as you go behind the scenes, past the everyday faces of the airline, it’s a different story. The guy I spoke with last night at US Airways’ main office actually had the gall to tell me, “You know, you’re not going to get it back.” Hey, thanks, man, for your sunny disposition and for all the help.

Every one of the dozen employees I’ve spoken with has told me to do something different – call the Charlotte lost and found office, call the Jamaica lost and found office (where the plane went next), call the airline’s main office, call the airport’s main office, email the airline’s lost & found “warehouse.” There seems to be no actual process for locating, retrieving or returning lost items of value, which is especially frustrating because I strongly feel that no one stole my iPad – that it’s just floating around in the US Airways abyss, waiting to be located by someone who gives a damn & will take the time to notice that my ticket is in the case, making its owner easily trackable. 

So far, I've filed an official claim with the airline, called/emailed everyone I've been directed to (and some I haven't been), found a friend with a friend who works in the Charlotte office to check for me, posted a plea on US Airways' Facebook wall, tweeted like a maniac, emailed myself in case whoever found it checks there, checked the Find my iPhone app (of course, I hadn't connected my iPad to it yet), & taken steps to contact my insurance company in case renters' insurance will cover this. I think that's an exhaustive list.

I’ve also been making a huge deal about this via social media in case some Good Samaritan happened to have picked up the iPad somewhere along the course of the day yesterday without turning it into the airline. If you’d like to retweet my plea for its safe return – or make a Twitter ruckus with me! – I’d love to cause such a stir that US Airways has to address why its lost & found system sucks so badly. I don't expect to get my iPad back, but I had to try - and in the course of trying, I found that this system is so broken that I doubt anyone ever gets anything back from them!

Also: If you’re holding onto my iPad as you read this? Please, please, please consider sending it back to its rightful, devastated, slightly irresponsible owner.


Post script: 
First, a million thanks to Mary Beth at for republishing part of this post on the Consumerist blog! Thanks also to everyone who's tweeted, retweeted or tried to be helpful in any way.

Second, I think a lot of people are missing my point, which I may not have made clear in my emotional mourning for my lost iPad: I get that the iPad is gone, you know? I shouldn't have left it in the seat back pocket, & of course there are plenty of dishonest people out there, passengers & employees alike, who would've been quick to snatch up such a find. I am disappointed in myself for leaving it behind, & disappointed in humanity that people abide to the "finders keepers" adage. Still, after more than a dozen phone calls/emails & just as many clueless employees, I just think it's sort of amazing that US Airlines seems to have no actual lost & found system in place. There have to be plenty of things that have actually been found, & after this experience, I have to wonder if their owners are ever reunited with them, even after trying really damn hard.

1 comment:

  1. I agree! It seems as though "Customer Service Reps" in general (or CSR's at US Airways in your particular case) have forgotten a HUGE part of their job description and even the meaning of their own title!! They are there to help with the customers needs, not to alleviate themselves of dealing with a customers needs by passing the Buck and referring the customer elsewhere so they don't have to worry about any follow up. Its ridiculous!! I suggest the next time you are actually able to speak to one on the phone, if they give you the run around, ask for their manager as many times as it takes to get someone that not only cares about your complaint but has the authority to hold those accountable that passed the buck AND to initiate a change in their process. Even if it doesnt get your ipad returned at least you might be able to initiate a change in the way lost items are handled in the future or the CSR's go about fulfilling the meaning of their title- representing the customers needs! Take it as far up the chain of command as you have to go to get somebody to listen even if you have to email the CEO, COO and board of directors to let them know how poorly your situation has been handled. Good luck and I do hope you get your ipad back!! :)


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