How an iPhone Got Lost Under Michael Douglas’ Seat. And American Wouldn’t Help to Return It.

Update: American found this reader’s iPhone and is sending it back.

Mitch shared a story of how he lost his iPhone right in front of his own eyes this week while flying first class on American Airlines from Los Angeles to New York JFK.

He reports that he was sitting behind Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Upon a rough landing my iphone falls from my lap onto the floor and slides under Douglas’ seat in front of me. I notify the FA who says this happens all the time in these First Class seats on transcons and she is thinking of making an announcement moving forward.

She calls mechanics while I wait. We can’t reach the phone. Mechanics come. They can see the phone with a flash light and can poke it with a stick but can’t get it out. After about 40 mins they give up (it was 11pm local time).

The very nice flight attendants said it happens all the time, you just go down to baggage and file a claim. I handed out the American Airlines appreciation slips to them all. Then asked if I should get their names or documentation? They said no such documentation for this exists, but they’d call down to baggage to let them know to expect me.

You know the ending of the story. Baggage claim said- “we don’t file claims for lost items.” I explained it wasn’t “lost.” They didn’t care.

I went upstairs to customer service and met some nice managers — but all said, ‘my hands are tied,’ we don’t have a procedure for this. They even called maintenance who confirmed the story [about where the iPhone was lost], but said they had no documentation. So after two hours I left.

It’s incredibly frustrating to lose your phone — to see it in front of you but have no way to get it. Eventually American Airlines will find itself in possession of the phone. And Mitch was told there’s no procedure to reunite him with it.

I thought through several possibilities to recoup this loss.

  • Credit card purchase protection Unfortunately the phone isn’t new enough.
  • Homeowners insurance but his deductible is too high.

He went and replaced his phone at an all-in cost of $900. Even though his original iPhone is out there. In fact, it may be under your seat right now.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. My cellphone once slipped into my seat on UA international business. One female flight attendant crawled on her fours and fetched it. I should have appreciated that much much more than I did.

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