MOST of us have misplaced an item or two in our rush to get from A to B – an umbrella or a pair of sunglasses perhaps.
But few of us will have ever walked off and left behind a wedding dress, false teeth, crutches – or even a unicycle.
And yet these are just some of the astonishing items that the team at Gatwick’s lost and found department have had to deal with over the last 12 months.
John Briley, head of special projects at the airport, explained: “A lot of our passengers are going on holiday and they might fly twice a year.
“There are too many signs, and it’s confusing for them – and they leave the most amazing things behind. We get wedding dresses all the time and false teeth. We had a wedding cake once. Take wedding dresses – we had four last month.
“We get a lot of people wanting to fly to warmer climes for their wedding.
“But they don’t want to put their wedding dress in with their luggage – and they aren’t used to carrying it with them so when they get up they forget it.
“We try to return them to their owners – where they are labelled and can be identified we’ll put them on the next flight but if it’s unlabelled it’s a problem.”
Mr Briley added that airport staff also find a surprising number of kitchen knives in the terminals.
He explained: “We know that chefs like to use their own knives – they are used to carrying them everywhere but it seems they get to the airport and then they get nervous. If they are flying with a budget carrier, taking the knives onboard could cost more than the knives are worth, so we find them abandoned in corners of the terminal.”
Other unexpected, commonly abandoned items include crutches and walking sticks. Mr Briley said: “I’m amazed people walk off without their walking sticks and crutches.
“People have a lot of dignity and using a walking stick is a last resort but I find it remarkable someone could fail to notice they have forgotten it.”
Guitar amplifiers have also been discovered abandoned – most likely because their owners have realised they cannot take them on board as hand luggage.
And some passengers get so flustered they accidentally abandon their children.
“About a year ago we had a baby in a cot,” Mr Briley said. “The parents had been flying to Montego Bay, needed to get another boarding pass and just left the baby.”
About 85 per cent of “high-value” items, like laptops, mobiles and cameras, are returned to their owners and 30 to 40 per cent of lower value items, such as books.
Items are, by law, held on to for a minimum of 90 days and then either donated to or auctioned for charity.