For two years, I walked by Billy’s Antiques and Props on Houston Street in NYC on my way to work, wondering where all the street side oddities on display came from. Then I saw William Leroy on TV as part of the Travel Channel’s program Baggage Battles, scooping up unclaimed luggage with unknown treasures at auction. I wondered how many of the show’s viewers were angry travelers whose belongings had gone missing at one time or another. Well, perhaps there’s a way to keep your undies and other private possessions out of strangers’ hands and off cable television.
AirportLostandFound.com aims to reunite owners with items lost during airline travel. By partnering with airports and airline operators globally, Airport Lost and Found has built an extensive and streamlined network to both hasten and improve the process of identifying lost belongings then connecting them to owners.
Worldwide Lost and Found Database
Travelers with misplaced items are given a unique ID and may file a claim onsite. Instead of waiting in line at a baggage desk and waiting for an airline to commence with a routine search, Airport Lost and Found alerts the airline your traveling with, as well as airport employees, attendants and security. What’s more, airport restaurants, shops, taxi and train/bus transportation–often excluded initially–are also part of the search system. This creates a more coordinated and exhaustive network of people who might have found your lost item.
Items have a way of turning up with no way of tracing them to the owners. By maintaining a database of lost goods, not to mention someone actually cross-checking when new items are entered, the likelihood of being reunited with misplaced belongings should increase dramatically.
When items are found, and once ownership has been verified, possessions can be reclaimed at lost property desks or be delivered by courier service. A quick glance at a list of lost property claims shows that people have quickly enlisted AirportLostandFound as their detective to track down missing valuables.
On The Case
The man behind Airport Lost and Found is Mark Jakubczak, also founder of PetAmberAlert, specializing in the recovery of missing animals. Jakubczak built PetAmberAlert while he was a student at Hunter College in Brooklyn, New York. His startup career began even earlier. As a high school student at Xavier, he created 20inchnyc.com (a BMX bike website, which he sold) and yellowcabnyc.com (still in operation).
Speed Is Key
Did you know that most contents of lost suitcases in the hands of U.S.-based airlines eventually wind up at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama? Items are sold there for 20% to 80% off retail prices. The store purchases truckloads of unclaimed stuff to keep inventory in its 40,000 square foot warehouse. The clock is ticking. Airports have 30 to 90 day holding policies, which leaves a brief timespan to retrieve something after it has disappeared–if it’s in the hands of an airline. Airport Lost and Found has the potential to beat the clock by using technology smartly.
The good news according to SITA’s 2012 Baggage Report, is that 99.9775% of luggage remains in the possession of rightful owners. However, this is no comfort to those whose valuables go missing or reappear battered, no sleeping aid for the frequent traveler who dreads the ritual check-in. Let’s see if AirportLostandFound might provide some efficient and calming relief.