How I Left My Laptop on a Flight… And Got it Back!!

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It was the end of a week in Turkey that had been riddled with bad luck and poor decisions. We had just made the tough decision to leave Cappadocia early and miss out on the opportunity for our hot air balloon experience.

The weather had been against us and the forecast was 50/50 for any improvement. So rather than sit on our hands we opted for more time to explore Istanbul.

As we sat at the airport deflated… We then looked at each other and decided that our string of bad luck was going to come to an end!

  • No more wrong turns causing huge time loss!
  • No more lost phones!
  • No more missing out on stuff we really wanted to do!

Istanbul was the last stop before going back home and we were wiping the slate clean and going in with new enthusiasm to finish our trip on a high note!

We even managed to have a giggle at the oddly named ice-cream selection in the departure lounge…

cappadocia airport departures


The Flight

We check in for our late night flight and managed to land the exit row seats…. Things were starting to turn in our favour!

Now, it is always my preference to store my carry-on bag under the seat in front of me. That way I don’t have to bother anyone if I need something from my bag, and everyone else can fight it out for that overhead storage space.

The downside of the exit row is you are not allowed to have anything blocking that emergency door and everything has to be stored up top.

So I got the laptop out and placed it in the storage pocket attached to the seat in front.

We arrived into Istanbul late at night. When the seatbelt sign switched off, we got our bags and sat patiently waiting for our turn to de-plane.

I remember Anh leaning on my shoulder with her eyes closed out of pure exhaustion waiting for our turn to get out of there and get to our hotel as quick as possible.

We got off the plane, retrieved our check in luggage, waited for a taxi, and checked into our hotel. It all went smoothly and at no time did I notice anything was wrong – despite it being 1am by the time we got into our room.

I had a shower and crashed on the bed to relax while Anh also cleaned up. Good time zone out to something on Netflix…. When I picked up my backpack it seemed unusually light.

The Realisation

In that moment I had that sinking feeling coupled with a flashback of exactly where I last saw this laptop – in that seat pocket on the plane! I never picked it up….

After sinking my face into my hands for a brief moment where I cursed my sheer stupidity (followed by a few self-defeating moments of thinking Why Me!) I started to wrestle with the idea of action vs acceptance of whatever the fate of the laptop.

It was late, and I was tired. But it was also a pretty important thing to lose.

Option 1

Do I get straight back in a taxi and go back to the airport? The plane will not have had another flight that night. And it was a domestic flight. Surely that would be my best chance!

Option 2

It was an old laptop anyway. Maybe I just let it go and buy a new one. I will lose a few documents here and there but life will go one. Of course, after a month long trip the disposable income is not exactly overflowing from my bank account.

Option 3

Ok, stay calm and just contact the airline…. But do they speak English? After calling the customer service hotline it took me a couple of attempts to find the English option. Success I thought! But I was then on an endless loop of automated options that never seemed to lead to speaking to a person.

By this time it was 3am. I had been away for nearly 24 hours and I didn’t have it in me to make a potentially fruitless trip to the airport.

So I went on the website and lodged a missing item claim. It stated that lost property would take 2-3 days to be processed through the airports systems. With just three days until we flew home I resigned myself to the likelihood that it was gone, but I would hope for the best.

They Found It!

It was a credit to the airport staff how quickly they processed the request.

At 1pm the next day I received a phone call from a local number. To my surprise, it was one of the Turkish Airlines staff telling me they have found the laptop and are holding it for me at the airport.

Maybe our luck had turned after all!!

That afternoon we headed out to find the airport bus station near Taksim Square – a good practice run for our eventual departure – and a long peak hour drive (1hour 45 min) back to the airport.

The highlight being the view from the 15 July Martyrs Bridge which provided a stunning view of the Bosphorus back to the city… Snapped in a very un-stunning way out the bus window below.

bosphorus bridge airport bus

On arrival, the challenge was then to find where lost and found was. The Turkish chap was very hard to understand over the phone so we just started asking any desk with a Turkish Airlines sign. We did multiple laps of the airport as each desk gave us a different answer.

Thankfully, a quality that I love about my amazing girlfriend is her average walking speed is way higher than most people. So we covered the ground with minimal fuss or time lost.

We eventually figured out that the lost & found desk was inside the arrivals hall and on the other side of security.

After being given reassurances that I wasn’t going to be tackled by security for walking the wrong direction into the arrivals hall I tentatively walked past that line stating Do Not Cross and walked into the hall with my arms up like I was trying to get the attention of the first security guard to see me.

They didn’t tackle or shoot me…. So problem one solved.

I explained the situation and they seemed ok with it. They just needed my passport….. No passport (again I cursed my stupidity).

Luckily, my Australian drivers licenses was accepted and I was waived through. Anh had to wait outside.

I found the desk and gave the reference number they provided me over the phone…. “Passport?” they asked me…. No passport (FFS!).

They laughed and just handed me the laptop and asked me to log in.

Never have I been more grateful for a flexible and common-sense attitude towards ID checks than I was at that moment. The security guard and Airline desk staff included!! This at least saved me another 3-4 hour round trip the next day and more lost time in the city.

Final Word

So this story has a happy ending.

I got the laptop back in less than 24 hours. I thanked the security guard on my way out, triumphantly waving my laptop in his direction.

Anh was waiting for me on the other side of the arrivals fence. With a smile as big as our many greetings after long periods apart. But this smile had more of a you’re an idiot and you got lucky undertone.

She would be right.

By this time our dinner plans had slipped by, so we celebrated with a romantic dinner at the airport McDonalds… Laptop safely on my lap the whole time.

istanbul airport lost and found

Post Script

There was almost a cruel twist of fate to really round out this story that occurred two days later when we arrived at the airport for our final flight home.

We were navigating security and going through the routine of placing laptops and bags in the trays to be x-rayed.

I took out the laptop and heard a bone-chilling crashing sound.

I had picked up the laptop cover upside down and my busted zipper had let the laptop fall straight out the bottom and on to the brand new tiled floor.

So after all of this, I may have just cracked the screen, or worse broken the hard drive.

But again, luck was on our side. It was unscathed and works just fine.

Oh, we also had an amazing few days in Istanbul in between ☺

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