Woman Tracks Missing AirPods Left On Plane Right To Airport Worker’s Home

Woman Tracks Missing AirPods Left On Plane Right To Airport Worker’s Home iStock/dontree_m | Alisabeth Hayden

While you try to check your seat and the surrounding area for before getting off a plane, sometimes things unfortunately get left behind. This happens a lot when you’re just ending a long journey and you’re exhausted. Sadly, Alisabeth Hayden experienced this when she left her AirPods behind on a flight from Tokyo to San Francisco. And while she was able to track them via her iPhone, where they ended up beggared belief.

  1. Alisabeth Hayden left her denim jacket hanging over the back of her plane seat. And while she asked the worker if she could go back and get it, he told her it was against the law. Instead, he asked her to stand aside and said he’d bring it to her. He did bring the jacket to her and she thought nothing more on it.
  2. She then boarded her next flight to Seattle. That’s when she realized something was awry. “A child was screaming next to me and I thought, ‘At least I have my AirPods,'” she recalled to CNN. She’d left both pockets of her jacket buttoned, one with her AirPods and the other with some leftover Japanese Yen from her trip. However, they weren’t there anymore. “The pockets were open, and my AirPods were gone,” she said.
  3. Hayden used the “Find My” app to track down her AirPods. They were at the airport for a while, but then they began moving. She watched their progress using inflight WiFi the entire way home. She noticed the AirPods had moved to “United Cargo” on the map before hopping airport terminals and eventually heading out on Highway 101 and ending up at a home in the Bay Area. They didn’t move for the next three days.
  4. Alisabeth Hayden sprung into action. She contacted executives at United Airlines, the San Francisco police, the airport police, and everyone else she could find. It’s not that the AirPods were so expensive but that they were a link to her husband, who called her while on military deployment in Japan. She needed the earphones to be able to hear him on their calls.
  5. The airline wasn’t very helpful at all. “First they were like, ‘I’m sorry you lost your belongings on our flight.’ I was like, ‘I didn’t lose them, I was denied the ability to get my jacket by an employee… and now my $250 AirPods are missing,'” she shared. Finally, a San Mateo police detective working at the airport helped her. He told Hayden that the employee was a contractor who loaded food onto planes. “I can’t make any assumptions, but what I know is that they were in the pocket when I got up, I wasn’t allowed back to my seat, and by the time the steward brought [the jacket] to me they weren’t there – and when I tracked them, they were at an employee’s house,” Hayden fumed.
  6. She watched the AirPods for the next several days. Throughout that time, the matter had been handed to law enforcement and United Cargo claimed they planned to question the man. In the meantime, Hayden noticed she kept getting notifications from her earphones, meaning they’d been hooked up to another iPhone. The employee, when questioned, claimed he didn’t have the AirPods until he was shown a screencap of them being tracked at his home. He then claimed an airplane cleaner gave them to him.
  7. Alisabeth Hayden’s AirPods came back in terrible condition. She said, “They look like they’ve been stomped on.” And when she reached out to United about that, they directed her to an online feedback form. It wasn’t until CNN stepped in that they offered her $271.91 in “expenses” to buy a new pair and 5,000 miles as a goodwill gesture.
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill