Listen to this article Woman Recovers Lost AirPods From Airport Worker’s Home
When Alisabeth Hayden, a Washington state resident, disembarked from a plane at San Francisco International Airport in early March, she left her denim jacket on her seat. Tired and a little disoriented after a nine-hour flight from Tokyo, she asked the flight attendant if she could retrieve it, but was denied due to federal regulations. He promised to bring it to her instead. Upon arriving in Seattle on her connecting flight, Hayden discovered that her Apple AirPods, which were inside one of the jacket’s breast pockets, were missing. The headphones were not only a pricey gadget, but also held sentimental value for Hayden as they connected her to her husband who was deployed in the military.
Tracking Down the AirPods
After realizing her AirPods were missing, Hayden used the “Find My” app, which tracks Apple devices, to locate them. She discovered that the AirPods were at SFO and were moving. Hayden, who is a diligent person, tracked the AirPods’ movements from San Francisco to Seattle, taking screenshots of the app’s location updates along the way. After arriving home, she continued to monitor the app, which indicated that the headphones were located at “United Cargo,” a cargo facility on the airport’s perimeter, primarily used for cargo operations rather than passenger activity.
The AirPods then moved to Terminal 2, then Terminal 3, and eventually to a residential address in the Bay Area where they stayed for three days. Hayden, who had marked the AirPods as “lost” on the app, tried to retrieve them by contacting United and SFO, and even the local police, but to no avail. She received the same response from all of them – “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Frustrated with the lack of progress, she resorted to finding United employee emails and “blasting” every single executive she could find.
Discovering the Culprit
Despite her tireless efforts, Hayden could not recover her AirPods until a detective from the San Mateo police force intervened. He matched the address the AirPods were pinging from to an address for an employee of the airport who was working as a contractor to load food onto aircraft. United confirmed that the employee was a vendor, not a United employee. Hayden couldn’t make any assumptions, but she suspected someone had taken the AirPods after she left them in her pocket when she was denied permission to retrieve her jacket.
Getting Her AirPods Back
The detective informed Hayden that he had passed on the information to United Cargo and they were going to call in the employee for questioning. Meanwhile, Hayden continued to monitor the app, which showed that someone had connected their iPhone to the AirPods. A few days later, the detective called Hayden to say that the employee had been questioned and initially denied having the AirPods. However, upon seeing the tracking screenshots at his home, he admitted that he had received them from an airplane cleaner. The cleaner denied any involvement in the situation.
Thanks to her tenacious tracking abilities and the detective’s intervention, Hayden finally got her AirPods back after nearly two weeks. She expressed her disappointment with United’s response, referring to them as “godawful” in the way they communicated with her.United later confirmed that they were working with local authorities to investigate the matter and assured customers that they hold their vendors to the highest standards. While Hayden was relieved to get her AirPods.