Unfortunately, flying poses some risk to your personal electronic devices, a fact which most passengers never even consider! As a flight attendant, I’ve seen and heard it all so let me share some insight into the world of flying with electronics. Listed below are my top five horror stories concerning electronic devices being stolen or damaged during airline travel.
#5 The Seatback Crusher
A passenger told me how the lack of clearance between seats directly resulted in the death of his laptop. My frequent flier friend was going about his usual day, pulling out his laptop after 10,0000 feet and preparing to get some work done. He pulled down his tray table, moved his laptop to the tray table's back edge, and began typing up an important email. Moments later, he was taken by complete surprise as the person in front of him forcefully dropped his seat into the most reclined position. SNAP! The screen of the laptop caught under the seatback and literally snapped in half as the passenger’s chair came flying backwards.
“That’s horrible!” I gasped, as the man recounted this story to me. “What could you do? Did you confront the person in front of you?”
The business traveler said his laptop was completely broken. There was no way to fix it and because it was an innocent mistake of the person sitting in front of him, there was no way for him to collect any sort of compensation for the broken device.
Lesson: Be cautious of placing your laptop on the tray table’s back edge. Your computer could get crushed!
#4 Liquid Drop Zone
Sadly, this next story comes from personal experience. I was working in Main Cabin. I remember feeling rushed. Perhaps we were running late with our service or maybe the captain had reported choppy weather on the horizon. For whatever reason, my co-worker and I were working as quickly as possible to finish our drink service. I served a woman tea with milk and sugar. For the milk, we use a small carton, the individual serving size you might have received on a lunch tray in elementary school. I found out a second later that when dumped, that little individual serving size of milk looks like a tidal wave. As soon as I set the milk back down on the cart, my co-worker unknowingly bumped the carton with his hand as he reached for something and I watched in shocked silence as the milk carton plummeted upside down and flopped down onto the keyboard of a man’s laptop. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my career.
I wish I could say that flight attendants accidentally spilling liquids was as infrequent as a solar eclipse, but unfortunately, I’ve witnessed other spills and often, those happen on top of the aisle seat passenger’s body or property.
Lesson: Consider hiding your electronic devices under the tray table while flight attendants pass out drinks! We’re kinda clumsy sometimes.
#3 - Liquid Drop Zone, Part 2
Of course, extra precaution is needed with children. Adorable and cute, yes, but coordinated enough to last a three hour flight without spilling? Not usually. Add a little turbulence to the mix and something is bound to go flying!
Lesson: Keep an eye on your neighbor’s drink and be prepared to react quickly if someone’s coffee does tip over.
#2 - Thieves In Flight
A fellow co-worker and her crew worked hard to retrieve a stolen item. Frankly, I am a little surprised this story didn’t make the news! A passenger seated in the last row of First Class reported that he couldn’t find his new laptop. Believing it had slid under his seat during take-off, he and the flight attendants looked everywhere, but the missing laptop was no where to be found! A little later, a passenger who sat in the first row of Main Cabin, approached my flight attendant friend in the back galley. The passenger reported that he saw the woman sitting next to him bend down after take-off, grab something from under the First Class seat, and shove it into her oversized bag-purse.
The flight attendants questioned the woman and asked if she had found the missing laptop. She held her purse firmly in her lap and said no. The flight attendants asked if it was possible to check her purse to make sure the tablet “hadn’t accidentally slid into the bag during take-off”. The woman clutched her purse more firmly and said no, that would not be possible. After discussing the situation with the Captain, it was decided that authorities would meet the plane upon landing and question the suspected woman. Shortly before landing, the flight attendants explained to the woman what was going to happen and that she would need to remain seated so the police could talk with her upon arrival. As the flight attendant left to take her jumpseat, the woman headed straight to the bathroom, bringing her purse with her. As soon as she exited the lavatory, another flight attendant went inside, checked the trash can, and found the laptop buried inside under a mound of paper towels. Crazy, right? The woman should have been in the World’s Dumbest Criminals book.
Lesson: While this lady wasn’t too clever in her attempted robbery, beware of your electronics because a more clever thief might be sitting near you.
#1 - Dip in the Blue Lagoon
I heard a story of how one gal dropped her cell into the toilet and how she then had the audacity to ask the flight attendant to retrieve it for her. Guess what? That’s not part of our job description! (The flight attendant made sure to inform her of this.) If you drop your new iPhone 6 into the pit, we’ll give you a pair of gloves and you are welcome to go after it yourself, but we're not sticking our hands into sewage and you probably should just consider buying a new mobile.
Lesson: When it comes to bringing your electronics in the lavatory ...umm, don’t. Please, that is so gross.