By Stacey Leasca
December 17, 2019
Getty Images

Though delightful in the end we all know that traveling can be a stressful experience. Especially if you have to go to the airport.

From getting there on time (but not too early) to ensuring you’ve packed everything you need, and finally waiting in line at security, it’s easy to get distracted. And sometimes when people get distracted they leave things in the security bins on their way through like keys, wallets, and sometimes even big things like their laptops.

Don’t believe us that people could possibly leave something as important as a computer? Just check out this photo posted by the TSA on Instagram:

As the TSA noted in the caption, these are all the laptops that were left behind at Newark (EWR) checkpoints in November in 2016 alone.

“When a laptop is left behind, it’s recorded in the lost and found log at the airport and stored in a secure location,” the TSA said. “The most common way laptops are forgotten is when traveler’s stack a bin on top of the bin their laptop is in. Out of sight out of mind.”

Beyond pointing out that people tend to lose things, the TSA also noted a few ways you can get your stuff, including computers, back. Here are three ways to find your lost electronics if you forgot something at airport security.

Call the Lost and Found Number for the Airport

According to the TSA, there are people at every airport ready and willing to help you find your lost computer or other items in a jiffy. As it noted on its Instagram page, “If you leave a laptop (or anything else) behind, you can access a list of lost and found phone numbers for each airport at, or you can reach out to our AskTSA team via Twitter or Facebook Messenger.”

Leave a Number on the Bottom of Your Computer

Just like you have a luggage tag for your bags it may be a good idea to consider an ID tag for your computer too.

“If you haven’t already, tape a business card or a piece of paper with your name and contact info to the bottom of your laptop,” the TSA said. “This will allow us to attempt to contact you via a page or phone call before you board your flight. It will also allow us to contact you if you’ve already left.”

Track Your Computer Using Your Phone

For Apple owners, finding a lost laptop can be fairly easy. All they need to do is ensure Find My Mac is installed on their computer before they leave (if you’re reading this go do it now so you never have to think about it again). To do so, simply head to the Apple menu and choose System Preferences. Next, click the iCloud pane, log in, and on the list on the right hand side, scroll down until you see Find My Mac. Click it to turn on and you’re all set. If it’s lost you can then use the iCloud Find My Mac utility on your phone or a different computer to find it.

If all else fails you could always buy yourself a new laptop via one of the TSA’s auctions each year. Find your local auction here and buy up all the forgotten and confiscated items you’ve been dreaming about before someone else does.