Airports are places of heightened emotion, be it anticipation, excitement, joy relief, grief, stress or despair. As the beginning or end point for many, airports often mark an achievement or moment in life that is big. Honeymoons, gap year adventures, travelling interstate for a funeral, heading oversees to meet distant relatives... airports connect people to big places and really big moments.
More than 24 million passengers travel through Brisbane Airport every year. Think about it - that is around 65,000 people a day experiencing heightened emotion and a flood of adrenaline and cortisol. Amidst the hustle of check-in, bag drop, security screening and getting the right gate, it is inevitable that a few valuable items sometimes accidentally get left behind.
What becomes of these misplaced, forgotten possessions?
Hidden behind locked doors within BNE's Domestic and International Terminals are two incredible treasure troves overflowing with thousands of unclaimed items just waiting to be rehomed. They are the type of rooms that would leave Benjamin Franklin Gates and Indiana Jones smiling from ear to ear.
From inflatable pools, surfboards, tyres and rice cookers through to laptops, cameras, jewellery and mobile phones, you can find just about everything within the lost property rooms! Literally. Don't believe me? What if I were to tell you that a prosthetic leg was recently handed in to the Domestic Terminal's Visitor Information Centre? It happened.
Last financial year, there were 10,351 items of lost property handed in across both terminals, including more than 700 passports, 300 laptops, 500 mobile phones, and 280 iPads. Move aside Dick Smith, I have all I need to set up my own electronics store right here at BNE!
Turns out I also have all I need to open up a shop front featuring an array of obscure items that you didn't know you could possibly lose, with false teeth, a sewing machine, life-size kangaroo garden ornament, moon boots, motorized scooters and a wheelchair also featuring in the lost property rooms recently. Dibs on the sewing machine.
Lost and found
Reuniting lost items with owners from around the world is a daily challenge for our Airport Ambassadors, a team of 170 volunteers who roam the Domestic and International Terminals during peak periods to provide invaluable assistance to passengers and visitors.
Jenni Greaves of Southern Queensland Tourism, who manages BNE's Visitor Information Centres and the Ambassadors Program, believes lost property has the uncanny ability to make some shifts more interesting than others, and often more rewarding.
"Nothing surprises us anymore! We've had baby birds, lost toddlers, odd shoes, cremated remains, expensive suits and designer dresses all handed in."
"Our Airport Ambassadors try their utmost to reunite items with their owners and there are a lot of people grateful for our efforts and for those people who were honest enough to hand in lost goods."
Rest assured, fellow travellers - every effort is made to return lost items to their rightful owners, but around two-thirds remain unclaimed each year. It's a staggering percentage, especially considering the depth and value of the items.
Items like neck pillows, blankets and fresh food are not logged as lost property. They are kept at the Visitor Information Centre desk, and if not collected, are disposed of.
More valuable items are held at the airport for 60 days and, if still unclaimed, are then donated to charity or put aside for Pickles to collect for Brisbane Airport's once-a-year online Lost Property Auction.
It's a win-win for the public because not only do we get the chance to pick up some hectic bargains (anyone after a bag of jewellery?!), any money raised during the auction is then donated to a worthy cause that supports the Brisbane and Queensland community. Now that's my kind of auction!
More than $21,000 was raised for Australia Zoo Wildlife warriors in BNE's inaugural online auction in 2017, with this year's proceeds of over $15,000 going to The Courier Mail Children's Foundation. The collection for the 2019 Lost Property Auction is currently underway.
Trust me. It's well worth marking this one down in your diary around November every year.
2019 LOST PROPERTY AUCTION
Bids are now open of pre-loved lost property items until 4 December 2019 raising funds for The Courier Mail Children's Fund.