January 17, 2013

Tech Thursdays: Don’t Leave Your Gadgets Behind

Welcome to Tech Thursdays, penned by Miguel, tech expert and our Airport Operations Supervisor in San Jose, California.

Don’t Leave Your Gadgets Behind

It never fails.  I get a radio call from the gate every day that a customer left their valuable tech gadget on board.  I joke around that I can open a lucrative eBay store if integrity, karma and jail time were not an issue.  Believe or not; airline crewmembers cringe at the notion of finding things that we consider high-value items.  We want to return the items as fast as we can to the owners rather than store it in our facilities.  At Jetblue, we have a limit of five days to store high-value items locally.  After the five-day limit, we have to send the items to our Central Baggage in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Rather than write about the latest and greatest travel gadgets or apps this month, I’ve decided to give some tips on how to hold on these entertaining and valuable items.

1. Initial descent is a cue – Once you hear the flight attendant or the pilot make an announcement that the plane is descending to your destination, you should start packing up.  Don’t wait until the plane is parked at the gate because it becomes a mad rush to get out.  I will put money that rushing is the main reason customers leave things behind.  And during the rush is when small items like iPods, cameras and smartphones are dropped or left behind the plane.

2.  Avoid the seat-back pocket – I know it’s a convenient place to store your iPad and phones while in flight but that seat-back pocket is the black hole when it comes to gadgets.  Most of the items we’ve found have been left in the seat-back pockets.  If not found during the cleaning phase of the flight turn, the plane travels to other Jetblue cities challenging the recovery of that item.

3.  Label your gadgets – As I mentioned, airline crewmembers want to return high-value items as fast as we can.  The first thing we look for is a physical label with a name or phone number.  If we don’t find that, we check the “about” section within the gadget itself.  The “about” section is usually in the settings and is a place where you can input your name and other contact information.  If you’re like me, you’ll have a security pass-code to access your device.  An easy way to label is to use a piece of masking tape and write your name and phone number.  Tape this to your gadget and you’re good to go.  It’s low-tech but it works.

4.  Gaming light – If you’re a videogamer or traveling with kids who have portable game devices like the Sony PSP or Nintendo 3DS, limit the games you bring to two to three.  They are tiny and expensive.  As a videogamer, it’s heartbreaking to see game cartridges left behind on the plane since I know some of the games cost $30 to $40 each.  Three is a manageable number to remember while traveling.  I actually just carry one in my travels because I can’t stomach losing any.

5. Know your gadget – If you do leave your gadget behind, be ready to give details.  There’s a good chance that you were not the only one to leave a “black camera” in a plane that week.  We’ll have to be confident that you own the item you are claiming and not just someone trying to hit the jackpot.  Know the color, the brand, the model or any unique marks that your gadget might have.  We had a customer call in and gave us a list of artists she had in her iPod.  Bingo!  Now, that’s someone who knows their gadget!

Time is of the essence when you leave an item in the plane.  There’s a chance of finding your item after a day or two, but the longer you wait to contact your airline the smaller your chances get of finding your precious item.

Read Miguel’s first column Sharing the Gift, with tips for sharpening the amateur photographer in you!

Learn more about Miguel and stay tuned for the next edition of Tech Thursdays!

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