Last year, I was on a quick turnaround business trip. I boarded the plane early in the morning on Wednesday. I travel some—not a ton, but a few times a year—for business, and I’m pretty seasoned as a traveler. But I was going to Palm Springs, and in April, there aren’t many direct flights. So I left Denver early, and transferred planes in Phoenix. I had breakfast in the Phoenix airport, and hopped on the connection to Palm Springs. The flight into Palm Springs was bumpy, and I was sitting next to a nervous flyer. I chatted with her to keep her calm as we descended through the turbulent air.
When I got to Palm Springs, I grabbed a cab and went to the hotel to check in. They asked to see my ID when I checked in. I have a pair of pants that I wear most times that I fly— they’re great for different climates, and unless it’s snowing, I can wear them with a t-shirt and a sweater and be ready for anything north of 40F and reaching 100F, which was the order of the day. The best thing is that they have back pockets, and I keep an ID and a credit card in the pocket, which comes in handy, checking in, going through security, and so forth. So I grabbed my credit card and… no ID. I double-checked my purse, my carry on. Nothing.
I explained what happened to the desk clerk and… What luck! The cab I had taken was still there. I asked the cabbie if I could check the back seat and floor. But my ID wasn’t there. I figured out how to call the airline and… Lucky again! My plane was still at the gate and the cleaning crew was going through it. The dispatch person relayed my seat number and they checked for my ID.
Nothing. I called the Phoenix airport, gave them the name of the cafe in which I had breakfast. Nothing had been turned in.
As a public service, I should tell you that the smart traveler travels with a copy of photo ID in their bag. But at the time, I did not meet that definition of a smart traveler. I had no photo ID. I had a plane ticket for the next day, and no way to either get documentation in time or prove who I was to the government who insists that I do so before I board their major transit.
So I checked the Internet. They advised to report the ID missing to the local police, so that I could prove my story to the TSA. So I met the lovely sheriff’s deputy, she filed a case report and gave me a number to give to the authorities.
When I finished my business the next day, I headed for the airport early. I pled my case to the TSA, they did an enhanced search, and we found something that proved to them that I was who I claimed to be. I canceled my license and paid to have a new one issued.
So… that’s the lost, where’s the found?
About four months later, I was in a situation where I was trying to get a family member on a plane on short notice. He didn’t have his license and couldn’t find it, no matter how he looked. Handily, I happened to know exactly what he should bring to the airport to get him on the plane. So it was hard-won knowledge that paid off for me in unexpected ways.
And now, all my bags have copies of my important information. And I’ve made sure that the pants that I wear on the plane have pockets that button.