Phones, X-rays and more left behind at airport

Some items left behind by SIA passengers that were donated to The Salvation Army included cameras, tablets and mobile phones. The charity works with the Family Mega Hub store to charge and test electronic items such as tablets and smartphones before putting them on sale.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

From wigs and pets to everyday objects such as books and mobile phones, more travellers are leaving their items at the airport.

Last year, ground handler Sats, which manages about eight in 10 flights at Changi Airport, recovered more than 38,000 items on planes - or more than 100 items a day.

This is higher than the 32,000 items found in 2015 and more than double the number recovered in 2014.

Another 40,000 reports were lodged last year by people who had lost their belongings at the three passenger terminals.

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Some of the items left behind included sweaters, jackets, books and personal gadgets, as well as more unusual items such as X-ray films, dentures, surfboards and breast pumps.

Airlines said that travellers sometimes see this as a convenient way to discard unwanted items.

Strange range of unclaimed items left behind in KLIA and Changi Airport

  • KL International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the region, has amassed a range of quirky items left by absent-minded travellers.
  • Branded watches
  • Engagement rings
  • Passports, notebooks and handphones
  • There are voodoo dolls, ikan masin, durian and even a British Airways pilot’s cap, just to name a few.
  • Shelves of religious books
  • Boxes of unopened duty free cigarettes
  • Unopened duty free liquor
  • An Australian didgeridoo
  • Many of the items left behind are also from Bangladeshi workers
  • They purchase big ticket items that are overweight
  • This includes rice cookers and televisions
  • David Chng, project coordinator with Family Mega Hub store, charges and tests out smart phones, tablets and kindles, to prepare them for re-sale. The items were left behind by airline passengers and donated by the airline companies after they were not claimed.
  • A box of iphones that cannot be unlocked at Salvation Army at Tanglin Family Hub.
  • Electronics from handphones, tablets, cameras to speakers at Salvation Army at Tanglin Family Hub.
  • Airlines said that travellers sometimes see this as a convenient way to discard unwanted items.
  • A neck rest at Salvation Army at Tanglin Family Hub. It is one of the items that SIA passengers leave behind on planes and at airport terminals.
  • Smart watches at Salvation Army at Tanglin Family Hub. They are some of the items that SIA passengers leave behind on planes and at airport terminals.
  • Some of the unclaimed items include cameras, tablets and mobile phones.
  • There are even unwanted baby prams

In many cases, however, owners eventually remember they left something behind and make arrangements to recover the items.

A hamster in a cage, for example, was eventually reunited with its owner.

When owners do not turn up, attempts are made to track them down. For instance, if something is found in the seat pocket of an aircraft, attempts are made to reach the passenger who was in that seat, said Sats.

When Sats has difficulty contacting the passengers, the items are sometimes returned to the airline's head office after about a week.

Items that are not claimed are typically kept for about three months before being donated to charities such as The Salvation Army and the Singapore Red Cross.

In the past two years, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has donated about 6,300 items to The Salvation Army.

These are inspected and valued before being sold at the charity's thrift and online stores, said Mr Nicholas Tan, retail and marketing manager of Red Shield, The Salvation Army's social enterprise arm.

For example, mobile phones are tested to make sure they are working well. Those secured with passwords that cannot be cracked are typically taken apart and the components sold.

The charity made about $90,000 from selling items donated by SIA in the past two years, Mr Tan said.

Airlines said they do make announcements to remind people to ensure they have all their belongings with them before disembarking.

"To avoid unnecessary anxiety, passengers are advised to check under their seats, seat pockets and the overhead compartments thoroughly before disembarking," said the spokesman for Sats.

This article was first published on Jan 4, 2017.
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