Lost my wallet, made my connection


Yesterday presented me with an interesting travel conundrum. Do I choose to make my connection or risk missing it while searching for my wallet which an Air France plane apparently chose to eat for dinner overnight? Obviously it is a choice I would rather not have to make but as I was walking off the plane I reached into my pocket and my wallet was not there. I had to decide. And I chose to make the connection.

The flight (JFK-CDG) was fine, if not a bit short (full review to come soon enough). We were an hour late off the gate in NYC but tailwinds suggested we would be close to on time into Paris and that’s a good thing as I had only a 90 minute connection booked. We did make up some of the time in the air but I was staring down a 60 minute connection by the time we landed and that had me plenty nervous. To be fair, this is the first time I’ve connected over CDG in a while. But with good reason; my history there consisted of various buses, random terminal changes, a distinct lack of maps or signage and possibly one instance where we accidentally invaded (entered the country with no passport check). In retrospect I could have spared 5 minutes to search more on the plane as things were quite a bit better this time around, but I did not know that at the time.

I got my stuff together and started to make my way off the plane, double-checking my pockets to ensure I had everything. That’s when I noticed that my wallet was missing. I was still on the plane and managed to get back to my seat to search for it to no avail. Maybe I left it in a jacket pocket, I reasoned, as I typically put it in one as I go through security. But it was not there either. And now I had a choice to make: Search more for my wallet or make the connecting flight to Istanbul. I chose to make the flight.

Yes, I use an old Johnnie Walker business card case as my wallet

That choice came with one caveat: I had to open up my bag and make sure that my redundancy plan was still working. Turns out that I keep a separate ATM card and credit card “hidden” in my briefcase. They are mostly there, at least in theory, to cover me when I get robbed on a trip. It turns out I’ve never needed them for that, but this is not the first time I’ve needed them due to my own idiocy. And, yes, the cards were in my bag where I thought they would be. So I was a bit concerned and a bit annoyed at myself, but I made my way to the connections area and headed on towards the gate for Istanbul. Sure, I lost my wallet less than 12 hours into a 5 day trip, but I still had enough of a plan to make things work.

I also shared my folly on Facebook and Twitter and was met with the generosity and concern of my friends, both near and far. I’m in Istanbul for a trade conference and one of the other guys here immediately reached out to me offering to help meet my needs. So did another friend who randomly just happened to be in Istanbul for the weekend and whom I ended up meeting for dinner last night. And several others in the US and elsewhere also reached out to offer support. Fortunately it looks like I should be OK, but it is always comforting to know that such a tremendous group of friends exists around the globe.

And, as a bit of a silver lining, it turns out that Air France did a better job of searching my seat area than I did. I received an email while waiting in line at immigration in Istanbul letting me know that the company had found my wallet. I have 30 days to figure out how to either claim it in Paris or get them to mail it to NYC. But it was found. So I shouldn’t need to worry much about fraudulent charges or changing the card numbers. Though I do wonder a bit if it will be cheaper and easier to just replace all the cards rather than deal with getting it back from Paris.

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Good news: They found it! No to figure out how to get it back to NYC.

One other mitigating factor, though one I chose to not avail myself of this time, is that American Express also offers same-day or next-day card replacement services around the world and I’m willing to bet that Istanbul is one of the places where same-day is viable. I’ve used the service previously and would consider using it again if I was in need (if nothing else, to pay for the hotel, as AmEx is not so widely accepted here), but it seems that would be a bit of overkill right now.

So, yeah, I lost my wallet. Turns out that’s not such a big deal, though certainly a bit stressful for a few minutes.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

3 Comments

  1. Glad to hear that at least the wallet is found.

    Amex (and many other banks) will authorize charges over the phone should the card is missing/lost/stolen. Also, I wonder if Amex still have the old school card replacement service at its authorized travel agencies, where they keep a stock of blank cards and create a new card on the spot.

    1. I’ve never tried to authorize over the phone; hopefully never will. I’ve done the immediate issue thing a few times and I’m pretty sure I could have made that happen here in a pinch if it was necessary.

  2. I lost my wallet last month on a Qantas flight. The Qantas staff were great in helping me get the wallet back. One employee went above and beyond the call of duty to get it back to me. That being said if the wallet is out of your sight for any period of time – immediately cancel your credit cards. Better to be safe than sorry.

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