One of the gamers I’m following on Twitter recently went through a freak-out moment. He left his iPad on the plane and remembered it after he got home. He got lucky. The plane he was on did not go to another destination and the person who found his iPad called him. As an airline-industry veteran and a gamer, I’d like to give you some dos and don’ts to lessen the chance of losing your precious portable gaming device:
1. Label it!
This sounds so basic but many of you don’t bother to put your contact info in the About section of your device. Airline employees are busy and will not have the time to research and trace the owners. Before packing, make sure your contact info is in the About section. You can use a labeler or just tape an airline name tag to your device. You don’t need to include a ton of info; your name and cell phone number will suffice. The less work the airline has to do the better the chances of you getting a call.
2. Don’t bring all your games
Ask yourself: How sad will I be when I lose these games? My heart goes out when I see a bag of games in a DS or PSP holder that’s been left in the plane’s cabin. I’d suggest bringing one to two games max. Games for portable consoles are thin and tiny. A DS game is just slightly bigger than a quarter coin. Bringing less makes it easier for you to remember.
3. Avoid the seat-back pocket at all cost
Repeat after me…”The plane’s seat-back pocket is a black hole.” Everything and anything that fits in there has been left behind. I’m talking about cameras, wallets, toys, cell phones, iPads, and yes, game portables. Ensure that there is space in the bag that goes under the seat in front of you so you can easily put it away when you have to go to the lavatory.
4. Check and store your stuff during descent
Don’t wait until the plane pulls up to the gate to stop playing. I usually stop playing when I hear the Captain or the in-flight crew say, “Prepare for descent.” Take this as a cue to stop, wrap up your headset, take inventory of your games and shove them in your carry-on. Passengers tend to forget everything when they rush to get out of the plane. I’m waiting for the day that somebody tells me that they forgot their baby on board.
5. Be paranoid… you’ll feel better
Stop. Check your carry-on and gaming equipment as soon as you pass the jet-way and into the gate area. Double check your inventory then proceed to the baggage carousel or parking lot. If you forget something, the gate agent can easily run back to your seat area and check. Flights usually have a 30-minute turn-around time. That plane is being cleaned and serviced as you deplane. It’s a pain in the neck when passengers ask the gate crew to check the plane while they are in the process of boarding the next flight.
6. When to rely on a wing and a prayer
Reality check time… Getting the item you left on the plane is a courtesy provided by the airline. Airlines cannot be found liable for something that you lost. Most airlines employ cleaners who are not direct airline employees but are business partners. Bags or little items left behind are quickly thrown in the garbage bags or are quickly vacuumed to get the flight ready for boarding. Big ticket items are usually turned in but are not processed until that night. Fortunately for you, airlines hate having high-value items in their lost-and-found bins. They want to get rid of it ASAP. Hence, having a name and phone number will expedite the return process.
But if you left your game portable and games and don’t hear from the airline after 24 hours, the likelihood of seeing your stuff is close to nil. One last tip… Be freakin’ nice! Trust me. A calm, cool, friendly voice goes a long way when you are asking for a favor. Leave your name and phone number and say that you’ll follow up the next day. I went out of my way to trace a Nintendo DS once because the dad was so sincere and friendly. I had to call two cities where the plane stopped and luckily found the item and got it sent back to my station. Again, I didn’t have to.