Man talking(l), Alaska Airlines airplane(c), Man showing green screen of found phone(r)

Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock @seansafyre/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘Meanwhile I crack my iPhone dropping it from the couch to the carpet’: Man finds phone that fell 16,000 feet out of Alaska Airlines flight that lost door plug mid-flight



Jack Alban


Posted on Jan 9, 2024   Updated on Jan 9, 2024, 10:10 am CST

Apple may have just found its own Stanley cup car-fire-free-marketing moment after a man walking down the street happened upon an iPhone that crashed down to earth from 16,000 feet. It was still fully intact and operational, despite falling from an airplane.

TikToker Sean Bates (@seansafyre) says that while he went outside to go and search for any items that may’ve fallen out of the Boeing 737 that sustained an en route, mid-air loss of fuselage during Alaska Airlines flight 1282, he shockingly came across a passenger’s mobile device that was in absolutely perfect condition.

Bates says in a viral TikTok that accrued over 135,000 views that he spotted the phone beneath a bush and picked it up. Not only was it in perfect condition, but he says he was able to confirm that the device belonged to a passenger on the flight as it contained mobile confirmation of a ticketed seat on flight 1282 as well as a receipt for checked baggage. The TikToker says that he submitted the phone to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which he says had encouraged folks to report any items that may’ve been ejected from the plane and fallen to the ground.

“Went to go for a walk today and found a phone belonging to an Alaska Airlines passenger sitting on the ground,” Bates explains. “Wanted an excuse to go on a walk this afternoon and they, NTSB had asked people to go and report anything that looks like it had been fallen out of the recent Alaska Airlines accident. Thankfully no one was injured [or] got sucked out, but they did lose some belongings, they were still looking for the door and I found a phone sitting on the side of the road that had apparently fallen 16,000 feet.”

After discovering the device, Bates was skeptical about whether or not it actually belonged to a passenger on the plane. However, he found confirmation when he opened the device.

“It was still pretty clean, no scratches on it, sitting under a bush,” he says. “And it didn’t have a screen lock on it, so I open it up. And it was in airplane mode with a travel confirmation and baggage claim for Alaska 1282, so I had to go call the NTSB.”

Additionally, he shared photos of his meeting with NTSB agents on X (formerly Twitter) and wrote that the organization told him this was the second phone recovered from the accident. A photo shows a device in what looks like a simple black case and screen protector. The phone’s status bar indicates that it was in SOS mode when Bates found it and that it still had 44% of its battery charged. For the picture, Bates pulled up an email that showed the passenger’s name and that they paid $70.00 to check two bags.

Eagle-eyed viewers may also notice another detail Bates pointed out in a follow-up tweet about his unlikely find: a tip of a charger was still attached to the bottom of the phone. This indicates that it had been pulled out of the broken door, which flew off in the accident and Bates said had yet to be recovered, with a force great enough to snap the wire and send the device hurdling out of the sky and down to Earth.

“In case you didn’t see it, there was a broken-off charger plug still inside it! Thing got *yanked* out the door (Sorry I didn’t get a better pic before handing it over haha),” he wrote in the post.

@seansafyre quick story of how I found a phone that dropped 16,000 feet 😅 definitely belonged to a passenger on #alaskaairlines #asa1282 ♬ original sound – Sean Bates

Bates’ find prompted a litany of responses from various social media users on both TikTok and X. The Daily Dot reached out to Bates for comment. He says that he doesn’t intend on making an entire “media tour” about finding a smartphone, but there is one recurring query he does wish he could’ve answered more thoroughly, and he would’ve been able to if he just snapped more pictures or taken a closer look at the phone.

And that recurring question, as this X user put forward to Bates, is: “What brand the case and screen protector was on that thing?!”

Unfortunately, Bates didn’t secure that information before handing it over to the NTSB. “Haha you were the first of many thousands to ask me that question I honestly didn’t think to check the brand before turning it in,” he responded.

Whichever company manufactured the screen and that protector is probably hoping word gets out to confirm it’s them—and then all they need to do is watch their profits soar. In the meantime, Apple can get all of the glory. Some folks believe that this is just one of those crazy accidents that arose from a confluence of events that perfectly protected the device, as one TikTok user wrote of their own Apple gadget: “Meanwhile I crack my iPhone dropping it from the couch to the carpet.”

The Daily Dot has also reached out to Apple and Alaska Airlines via email for further comment.

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*First Published: Jan 9, 2024, 1:00 pm CST