How Emirates staff race against clock to return lost items to passengers

Dedicated team works to find and trace possessions before transit flights

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A rapid return airport service for lost items operated by Emirates airline reunited more than 15,000 possessions with their owners, including more than 2,000 within an hour.

The airline says it has a “golden hour philosophy” to reach transit passengers in particular before they board a connecting flight to another part of the world.

Of the 15,000 or so items lost and returned in 2019, the most recent figures available, 2,076 were found and returned within that golden hour.

We have a dedicated team who work diligently to locate their owners, and help reunite them as quickly and efficiently as possible
Emirates spokeswoman

Once the passenger boards an outbound flight and takes off, the return takes longer but can usually be placed on a subsequent flight on the airline's global network of routes.

“Emirates takes its responsibility to recover and return lost items to their owners very seriously,” a spokeswoman said.

“We have a dedicated team of Emirates Group Security personnel who work hand in hand with Dubai Airports, police and other law enforcement agencies to handle lost items, work diligently to locate their owners, and help reunite them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“This is especially true for connecting passengers who spend a short time with us while transiting at Dubai International Airport.”

A German passenger in Dubai receives a pleasant surprise as police return 33,600 euros ($37,990) he had lost. Photo: Dubai Police

The most important items given priority for the return service are travel documents, wallets, purses, mobile phones and other electrical devices.

Aside from lost goods returned within an hour of them being misplaced, Emirates was also able to recover 2,938 items within six hours in 2019.

Luxury watches, bags of cash and tech devices are commonly left behind at Dubai International Airport, and handed to security.

Earlier this month, American YouTube star Casey Neistat told his millions of followers on social media how Emirates had stepped in to return the Apple iWatch he left behind at security clearance on a recent trip to Dubai.

The watch's strap was custom-made, marked with 'CN22, New York City' and a phone number, making it easy to identify for security personnel who found the watch and handed it to Emirates.

About six hours after Mr Neistat lost the watch, the airline contacted him to say they had found it and were going to deliver it to him on the next available flight to the US.

Although some people thought Mr Neistat was afforded special treatment because he has almost 13 million YouTube subscribers, Emirates said all passengers were given the same service.

YouTube star Casey Neistat had his Apple iWatch flown to California by Emirates after he left it at Dubai International Airport. Photo: Twitter / Casey Neistat
Updated: February 14, 2022, 10:51 AM