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How the “Find My iPhone” app and An Xpress Spa Hero Overcame My Stupidity and American Airlines’ Terrible Lost and Found Process.

This is a story of stupidity, awesome technology, weak customer service and terrible processes, a wild gamble, finding a wonderful right person at the right time, and a little bit of luck!

My flight from MIA to DFW was delayed 2 ½ hours and by the time we landed in Dallas at around 11 pm, I was exhausted and a little brain dead.   I grabbed my carry-on, made my way to my Uber and headed to the hotel.   As I was standing in line to check in, I realized I stupidly had left my $1000 iPad Pro in the magazine holder on my plane. Arghhh…

Muttering to myself, I made my way to my room and whipped out my phone that I know was connected into my iPad via Apple’s Find My iPhone app.   Sure enough, when I pulled up the app, I could see my iPad – and it looked like they had moved the plane from the gate to the hangar – with my iPad in tow..

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I tried calling the airport but was told that American Airlines lost and found was closed until 9:30 the following morning.   I called AA’s Lost and Found department just in case they were still there and listened to a recorded message which basically told me that I should fill out a form at AA’s site and that someone would contact me if they found it.

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Out of options, I went to bed and waited to see what would happen in the morning.

When I woke up, I fired up the app again and interestingly, my iPad had moved from the hangar to what seemed like “inside the terminal” – I assumed to the lost and found department.   I was fairly confident that someone would be calling or e-mailing me to let me know that they had it. I called the number again and left a voice mail message (the message claimed that they were monitoring the voice mail and returned phone calls throughout the day).

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However, even though I could see iPad sitting in Dallas’ terminal, no one called me for hours.  It was impossible to get someone on the phone to help me out.   I called again and left another voice message and tried to focus on my business meeting.

A few hours passed and I pulled out the app again and took a look at the status of my iPad.   Somehow.   Unbelievably.  My iPad now showed that it was in Miami – possibly sitting inside the terminal.   Was it moved to Miami’s lost and found since that’s where I came from?   Was it stolen by an employee who brought it Miami?   It made no sense.

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Zooming in on the map and comparing it to a map I found of the Miami airport, I thought it might be in American Airline’s Admiral’s Club or the nearby Starbucks.

I tried to call American Airlines to have them transfer me to the Admiral’s club – at worst have them try and find the iPad which I KNEW was nearby.   They claimed that they had NO way of calling the Admiral’s club.. Huh?

I called AA’s customer service and asked if they could transfer me to Miami’s lost and found.   Miami’s lost and found was even worse – a recorded message again referring me to the lost and found form – no method to even leave a voice mail message or speak to anyone.

I was running out of options.   The battery of the iPad was running and once it was dead, I wouldn’t able to track its location any more.   American Airlines was not helping – I couldn’t get a person on the phone – and their lost and found “process” was useless.

I decided to take a gamble.   Looking at the map and overlaying a search in Google, one of the closest stores to where my iPad sat was a store called Xpress Spa. In addition, as I looked another map of the MIA terminal, It seemed that there was a good chance that my iPad was actually in a plane in the gate – not actually inside the terminal.

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I called Xpress Spa and spoke to someone named Anneline and tried to explain my story.   “Can you help me?   Is your store right in front of Gate D11?   If so, I was wondering if you could do me a huge favor.   I think my iPad is possibly sitting in the plane at that gate.   Could you walk over there and ask someone to go into that plane and see if my iPad is sitting in the magazine holder in seat C20.

She put the phone down and returned with an American Airlines rep who had a few questions about what I was trying to do. What flight did I go out on?   What did I need him to do?   I told him, “If that is the same plane that came from Dallas to Miami this afternoon, I am 100% sure that my IPad is sitting in there”.   Off he went and I sat there staring at the app while talking to Anneline.

As I’m talking to her, I told her,“He found it!”.   She asked, “How do you know?”.   “Because,” I said, “I can see it moving!”.

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Sure enough, the AA rep showed up at the Xpress Spa location and told me that he had found it exactly where I left it.

Anneline told me that she’d be happy to hold it for me (since I was coming back to Miami the next day). However, I was not getting back home to MIA until 12:30 a.m. and Xpress Spa was obviously closed. Amazingly, Anneline offered to Fed Ex my iPad back to my home later that day.   YES, whatever it takes. I’ll pay you whatever it takes to get my iPad back home.

And as you can see, my iPad left the Airport with Anneline, made it’s way to a FedEx store and was safely delivered to me when I was back home.

It’s even fun to see the path that the FedEx driver took with my iPad before it showed up at my house.

On a side note, about an hour before I decided to call Anneline, I decided to try to tweet to AA to see if they would respond.  Interestingly, they DID respond – and relatively quickly albeit initially with not terribly useful information.

However, by the time I had exchanged a few messages with AA’s twitter staff, Anneline had helped find my iPad already.

I do give AA’s social media team credit.   While not as fast as a phone call, they were moderately responsive – might have even been able to help direct an employee to the plane before my iPad’s battery died.  But, nothing beat the creative out of the box solution I worked with Anneline.

So, in the end, here are my lessons learned:

  • Duh, take a moment before you get off the plane and make sure you have everything.
  • Got to love Find My iPhone.   If I didn’t have that app running, I would have had NO idea where my iPad was and that plane was headed internationally.   The chances of my getting my iPad back with AA’s crack staff of unreachable employees was about 0 in 1000 unless there was a very nice person who was the next traveler in seat C20.
  • I do find it frustrating that a silly tweet seems to get better customer support than multiple phone calls and emails – but I guess that’s the world we live in.
  • Huge shout out and thanks to Xpress Spa and Anneline. She’s my hero here.   She went way out of the way to help rectify my stupid mistake.   If you’re ever in the MIA airport, I recommend swinging by for a quick massage!
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  • As Anneline texted me later that day, I definitely am a lucky bastard…

fullsizerenderAnd my lost little iPad finally made it’s way home……..

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