Here's Exactly What to Do If You Forget Your Laptop at Airport Security

Rule number one: don't panic.

Electronics in airport security bin
Photo: 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 to ensuring you’ve packed everything you need, and finally going through 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 behind something as important as a computer? Just check out this photo posted by the TSA on Instagram of all the lost laptops at airport security.

As the TSA noted in the caption, these are all the laptops that were left behind at Newark (EWR) checkpoints in November 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 in the caption. “The most common way laptops are forgotten is when travelers 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 recover your lost laptop 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

Anyone who uses an Apple AirTag knows just how helpful a personal GPS device can be for tracking down lost luggage. And for Apple computer owners, recovering a lost laptop at airport security can be just as 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. Click Security & Privacy and go to Location Services. Turn on Location Services and then turn on Find My in the list of apps. If you don't see Find My, go to System Services in the list of apps and click Details to turn on Find My Mac. You'll also want to make sure Find My Mac is turned on in your iCloud settings. If you lose your laptop, you can use iCloud's Find My Mac utility on your phone or a different computer to find it. Just make sure to track it down before it ends up in one of the annual TSA auctions for lost and confiscated items.

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