A more accurate title would be using the word “forget” in place of “lose”. My friend went through TSA screening and left his carry-on bag there. Here’s his story of what happened.

Guest post by Rinaz Ali.

It’s something that every traveller fears, forgetting their luggage somewhere. The stress of travelling, the throngs of people, the security concerns, making your flight in time – it can be a harrowing experience even for the most seasoned traveler. And it happened to me.

I was travelling from Denver, Colorado where I live, to Sydney, Australia, to see my family and friends. I had a large suitcase that I checked in, a messenger bag with all my essential flight requirements (headphones, paperwork, hand sanitiser, lip balm, etc) and a hard shell roll on.

The roll on was brand new, bought especially for this trip. Due to it’s protective properties, I had put some of my most valuable items inside. This included my expensive laptop, unique gifts for family members and friends, all my travel adapters and a VR headset.

The Blucifer Curse

As I checked my luggage with Delta, I realised I didn’t have a tag on my roll on. Even though I knew it would be in my sight the whole trip, I dutifully grabbed a luggage tag. Putting it in my pocket, I planned to attach it once the upcoming security ordeal was over. I could almost hear my mother’s words ringing in my ears: “Never travel without having tags on ALL of your bags, no matter what!”

Preoccupied with my impending trip to take care of my aging parents, I was in a bit of a brain fog as I lined up for TSA security. Little did I know that Blucifer, the notorious giant blue horse statue that greets everyone outside the terminal at DEN, had cursed me just like it had it’s creator. A piece of the statue fell on artist, Luis Jiménez, and he bled to death.

A Rookie Mistake

As my bags went through the x-ray machine, I had forgotten that on my keys was a tiny, unfoldable knife. It was something I had only purchased recently to open packages for my job. While I was holding my jeans up, I busily reclaimed my belt, tablet, shoes and jacket when I was suddenly called over by the TSA.

Clutching my loose items to my chest, I shuffled shoeless over to the TSA lady who had my messenger bag. Sure enough, she produced my tiny, 1 inch knife. Mortified, I apologised profusely, embarrassed it had happened. She was entirely cheerful and friendly and removed the knife and let me proceed on my way.

Grateful for the minimal fuss, I added my messenger bag to the haul of things I was carrying and stumbled over to the nearest seat. Sitting down, I put my shoes on and put everything back together.

Don’t Lose Your Bag!

Once done, walked down the escalator to the train platform that takes you to Denver’s three terminals. It was only when I got off at Terminal One, and stepped on the escalator, that I stuck my hand into my pocket and found the Delta luggage tag.

For my roll on.

That I didn’t have.

Panic immediately gripped me as my worst fears were realised. My laptop, with all my important documents, banking details and personal details, as well as gifts especially picked for my family and friends, was gone. Did I leave it on the train?

I ran backwards down the escalator to the platform as people moved out of my way. For the next 15 agonising minutes, I checked every train. This meant counting carriage numbers, the doors, and furiously working out which door it would be on the opposite platform, to see if my roll on had come around. It didn’t.

Catching the train back to the terminal, I beelined for the first information booth I could find. Communicating my predicament resulted in them putting a call through to lost and found.

Sad Times

I knew it was hopeless. If Lost and Found or TSA had found an unattended bag, it would most probably be seized and taken away. As I waited for word, I got online and immediately logged a lost item ticket on the Denver Airport website.

An hour after I had lost the item, there was still no word. I had to go back through TSA security (another complete screening) to ask them if they had seen it. They gave me the usual spiel of checking with lost and found, but also helpfully advised to ask the police officer who was also stationed at the TSA checkpoint.

He was surprisingly helpful and attentive, radioing all the officers in the airport to see if they had seen a bag matching the description, we swapped mobile numbers and he offered to text or call me if he heard anything.

Time To Fly

Since arriving three hours early for my flight (as I often do) and having spent over two of those running around the airport, I realised that my luggage was at least not coming with my on my flight. Worse, it was possibly stolen or lost for good.

Heading to the gate, I hit the nearest bar and had a few Tokyo Ice Teas to calm my jangled nerves. This drink is similar to a Long Island Ice Tea, but the usual Coke is replaced with 7-Up (or other type of lemon-lime soda) and the triple sec is replaced with kiwi liqueur.

As I drank those Tokyo Ice Teas, my brain started to work after the shock of losing my bag. The memory of what happened going through TSA started to become clearer. I didn’t remember having my roll on as I was putting my shoes on, grateful that all I was stopped for was a tiny knife.

A glimmer of hope! Maybe I had simply left the bag at the X-Ray machine! My brain started to whir. Perhaps any bag would be picked up (eventually, who knows how many hours later) by a TSA agent. They would see it had no ID, and at the end of their shift, dump it in Lost and Found, and it would be processed.

A Happy Ending!

I boarded my flight not knowing if this was the case. There was still no sign when I landed at LAX. Finally, when I landed in Sydney another 13 or so hours later, my e-mail was still bare. I was too mortified to tell my mother that I had lost a bag at the airport, a cardinal sin in her eyes, especially with the luggage tag burning a hole in my jeans.

The next morning, fully recovered from jet lag, I hesitantly opened my e-mail to see a joyous sight. An email from DEN saying they have an item that may match the (highly detailed, down to every item inside) description I had provided.

I called Denver Airport Lost and Found and sure enough, they had my bag, completely intact, with everything inside. I was able to authorise someone to collect it on my behalf and ship it to Australia at the cost of $260 USD.

So if you ever wondered what happens if you leave something unattended through TSA, this is what happens. And if your mother tells you to put a tag on all your bags – do it.

Have you ever had an experience like this? What happened to you? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Danpaluska via Wikimedia Commons.
Blucifer by Mike Sinko via Wikimedia Commons.
Escalator by Nick-D via Wikimedia Commons.
Tokyo Ice Tea via Pinterest.