Sleeping in Airports
Child abandoned airport
(photo credit: MiniImpressions / iStock)

Strangest Things Ever Left At The Airport

Hands up who hasn’t left something in an airport at one time or another during their travels? It’s easily done, of course, as most passengers always have their mind on the next step of the journey, whether it’s catching a flight, negotiating security and immigration, or even just getting home. Depending on the item in question, days or weeks can go by before it is even missed. It’s safe to say that this shouldn’t apply to the contents of the following list yet, amazingly, it did. It beggars belief that they were left behind in the first place, let alone the fact that one or two weren’t missed at all.


It has long been a complaint that most parents appear blissfully unaware of the carnage their devil spawn are wreaking on the innocent public. However, it would appear that some of those parents are so successful at zoning out their kids that they subsequently forget they exist. We’ve already reported about how a 4-year-old girl was forgotten by her parents at Tel Aviv Airport and there have been more incidents since. To date, all the forgotten children have subsequently been reclaimed, but in a couple of cases it took a call from the airport to jog the parents’ memory.


One of the best attributes of today’s tablets and smartphones – portability – is also one of the worst. The fact that you can barely feel the weight of your iPhone when it’s in your pocket also means you can barely feel the lack of weight when it’s not. Because of this, portable electronics often feature on an airport’s lost and found list. In fact, at the time of writing, around 50% of the London Heathrow list on is made up of phones and tablets. Occasionally, though, the electronic item is of a more exotic nature. According to the Unclaimed Baggage Centre in Alabama, they have discovered a handheld camera designed for use on the Space Shuttle, and a fighter jet’s missile guidance system. Sadly, proving that Alabama is no fun whatsoever, both were immediately returned to the proper authorities.

Musical Instruments

Unless the instrument of choice is a penny whistle or harmonica, it’s difficult to understand how anyone can forget they set off from home with one. Despite some being so large they need a seat for themselves, instruments such as guitars and violins are often abandoned and end up being auctioned. One of the most incredible examples of this carelessness, allegedly, was that of a Tibetan Dung-Chen.  We say ‘allegedly’ because, aside from the impracticality of getting the damn thing on an aircraft in the first place, who the hell would not remember they had?


We’re not just talking about a bottle of vodka and 200 duty free cigarettes here. The Unclaimed Baggage Centre lists a 5.8 carat diamond (hidden in a sock!), a 41 carat emerald and a US$60,000 Rolex amongst the treasures they have discovered. In fact, given the the variety of, by definition, untraceable stuff that gets auctioned off, lost luggage seems to be the perfect way to fence stolen goods. Cold, hard cash also seems to be left, willy-nilly, all over the world’s airports. London City, for example, managed to reunite an absent-minded, and no doubt incredibly relieved, gentleman with the £50,000 he’d left behind. Whether he remained relieved when Customs questioned the history of such a large sum of money is anyone’s guess.

Animals/Animal Products

The annals of commercial aviation are crammed with stories of reptiles dropping on unsuspecting passengers whose only error was to open the overhead locker. In reality, snakes slithering their way around aircraft cabins is actually a rare occurrence. The sad truth is that many more illegally-shipped exotic animals are left to die or rot in airports because the intended recipients don’t have the balls to go pick them up. Quite often, the cargo staff don’t even realise what they’ve got until the shipment starts to smell, as was the case in Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo airport. It could be argued that, as the consignment was in transit to the US, it wasn’t technically left at the airport. However, semantics aside, no one can deny that stumbling across approximately 1600 dead or dying lizards, geckos, frogs and toads is pretty freaking strange!

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