Lost & Found

Gary Gatwick’s Underground Adventure

The Stuck at the Airport adventure team traveled in and around London with Gatwick Airport’s mascot, Gary Gatwick, last week.

Our assignment: discover how easy it is to use Gatwick Airport as a base when visiting the region.

We traveled by train and underground to visit attractions in central London, the Brighton seaside, and the historic West Sussex towns of Arundel, and Amberly

Every stop was an educational adventure and Gary Gatwick was a perfect host and guide.

But one trip on the underground turned into a lesson about the kindness and professionalism of the people who work for Transport for London.

Because Gary Gatwick somehow got left behind at the Farringdon station.

It took about 10 stops to realize Gary Gatwick was missing.

We were, of course, horrified that he’d been left behind.

And we weren’t confident we’d be reunited.

He was traveling in our small blue backpack and, honestly, our experience with public transport in other cities led us to assume that the backpack would be taken by another passenger, thrown out, or, worse, treated as a suspicious, unattended package and blown up!

But none of that happened.

While helpful station attendants at another station made calls to the Farringdon station on our behalf to inquire about our lost item, our little backpack was found and turned in to the lost property office at the station.

This customer service supervisor recognized Gary Gatwick, took good care of him, and logged his visit into the records.

When we finally made our way back to the Farringdon station and asked to be directed to the supervisor’s office, everyone on duty knew just who we were.

“Oh, you’re the people looking for the bear! Go that way.”

We took a bit of ribbing, but once we signed for our lost property we were back on our way.

The London Underground, like most other public transit networks, is a sprawling system. And, clutching Gary Gatwick close so we didn’t lose him again, we thought we’d just melt back into the sea of passengers.

But when we got back to the station platform we encountered Kevin.

He’s the Transport for London employee who had found Gary Gatwick on the platform and he’s the one who made sure Gary was safe.

Kevin seemed genuinely glad to see us reunited with Gary Gatwick and we’ve declared him our hero!

(Stuffed) tiger tours Tampa International Airport

First it was Princess Kitty.

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A few weeks back, the Lost & Found department at Denver International gave a stuffed animal named Princess Kitty the royal treatment and a tour of the airport before reuniting the toy with its young owner.

Now a stuffed tiger named Hobbes – left behind at Tampa International – has plenty of tales to tell.

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Earlier this month, the TPA Lost and Found Department got a frantic call from the mom of a 6-year-old boy named Owen who had left his toy behind when the family flew off to Houston.

A janitorial crew at the airport found Hobbes and Tony D’Aiuto, the airport operations center manager, decided to take the toy on an adventure.

Hobbes certainly had a great time.

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Photos on the airport’s website – and in the book D’Aiuto had put together overnight at a local Walgreens – show Hobbes at the gelato counter, playing Jenga in the USO, visiting the airport fire department and the air traffic control tower, learning about airport operations and checking into the airport Marriott.

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Owen and his family came to retrieve Hobbs when they got back from trip and were presented with the photo book of the tiger’s adventures.

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“It cost just $16 to make the book and a couple of hours of my time,” said D’Aiuto, “and if there’s ever an opportunity like this when we know we’ll be able to reunite a toy with its owner, I’d love to do it again.”

(All photos courtesy Tampa International Airport. A slightly difference version of my story about the lost tiger first appeared on USA TODAY)

Denver Airport saves Princess Kitty

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An almost-too-cute story about how the Lost & Found department at Denver International Airport rescued a stuffed animal named Princess Kitty is making the rounds.

Both Sonja Wieck and her 9-year-old daughter, Annie, were devasted when they realized Annie had left the beloved and well-traveled Princess Kitty on a DEN Airport tram.

Wieck sent a tweet to the airport asking for help and the airport staff not only found the stuffed animal but gave it a tour of the airport and the attention that a princess deserves.

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(All photos courtesy Denver International Airport)