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What happens if you lose your passport during the flight?


Although living at the age of digital processing and storage, one of the most critical documents we rely on is still mostly in physical form. Many things can go wrong while traveling, including lost or stolen personal effects. So what if your passport disappeared during a flight?

Hard situation

Although losing a passport on a plane may seem unlikely to many, anything can happen. Especially during the tense and complex nature of trip abroad in modern times. As a result, there have been cases where passengers landed in a country without knowing where their passport had gone.


Losing or damaging a passport abroad is stressful enough. Travelers should generally go to the embassy closest to their country and acquire an emergency travel document (ETD). However, this is not an option if you cannot pass your destination Security doors first.

In most cases, if a passenger loses their passport on an international flight, they will be sent home on come back. Nevertheless, you may be lucky if assistance can find the passport on your incoming airliner.

Photo: Heathrow Airport

Help needed

Quora user Josh Lim explained that following a Delta Airlines flight from JFK to Toronto, he noticed that he did not have his passport with him. At passport control, he explained to the immigration officer that he had accidentally left his passport on the plane and had to go to the airline’s baggage claim counter to find out how to get it. .


“He took my immigration form, marked it with a pink highlighter (he put a big slash on it, basically) and told me to wait until they ask someone from Delta to settle the passport situation. A few minutes later, they were able to retrieve it from the plane and hand it to me. I went back in line, handed my passport over to the immigration officer I spoke to earlier, and a few minutes earlier my passport was stamped and I was on my way.”

Quick return

However, if no document is discovered, what happens next depends on the passenger’s nationality, immigration status and the discretion of the authorities. For example, an ordinary citizen would eventually be allowed to enter, even if it takes some paperwork. Still, other travelers are likely to be put on the next available route home.

Another Quora user, Chet Dayal, explained that he lost his passport during a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Tokyo. After explaining the situation to immigration, he was presented with four options.

As a first step, United contacted the US Embassy, ​​which said it could arrange an emergency replacement at the Tokyo embassy within two hours. However, this was not applicable as Dayal could not enter Japan in the first place. So the second option was to wait airside until the plane returning to the SFO was searched. If found, the passport will be handed over on the return flight to Tokyo. Again, this was not a suitable option as it would require a night in the terminal with no warranty.

Dayal explained that the third option was:

“That I apply for ‘special permission’ to enter Japan without a passport. This request may or may not be granted. Even if this is granted and I am allowed entry, my name will forever be on a “watch list” and each time I return to Japan, I will be subject to secondary questioning and hassle at immigration.

Finally, Dayal chose option four – board the next available flight back to San Francisco.

Photo: Gatwick Airport

So, this may be a case-by-case situation, but in all likelihood the most effective and smooth conclusion is to go home.

What do you think of these scenarios? Has something like this ever happened to you? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Source: Quora 1,2