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 20 million passengers travel through Brisbane Airport every year. That's around 60,000 people each day. That is over 60,000 people 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 once handed in to the Domestic Terminal's Visitor Information Centre? It happened.
Turns out we have all we need to open up a shopfront featuring an array of obscure items that you didn't know you could possibly lose, with a steamer, mandolin, DJI drone, ski mask, motorized scooters and a wheelchair all featuring in the lost property rooms recently. Dibs on the drone!
Lost and found
Reuniting lost items with owners from around the world would is a daily challenge for our Airport Ambassadors - a team of over 100 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." Don't worry, no animals or children were harmed in the process.
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 random 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, and a further $15,000 and $25,000 went to The Courier Mail Children's Foundation in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The 2018 funds were dispersed through The Courier-Mail Children’s Fund to the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation (QATSIF) to support 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders complete Year 12.
The 2019 funds were dispersed through The Courier-Mail Children’s Fund to Active Eight (A8), a grassroots charity based in Toowong that is dedicated to assisting young people with disabilities to activate and achieve their full social, emotional and physical potential.
The 2020 funds were dispersed through The Courier-Mail Children’s Fund to Braille House, improving literacy and quality of life for blind and vision impaired people by transcribing, reprinting and rebinding braille books. The money from the 2020 Lost Property Auction was used to transcribe 25 books into braille for blind and vision impaired adults and children.
Trust me. It's well worth checking our website and marking this one down in your diary.