iPhone that fell 16,000 feet from Alaska Airlines plane found intact


An iPhone that was sucked out of an Alaska Airlines plane has been found intact and operational after plummeting 16,000 feet from the sky. It sounds like the ultimate drop test.

Alaska Airlines made headlines last Friday when a door plug blew off Flight 1282 midair, forcing the California-bound plane to turn around and make an emergency landing back in Portland, Oregon. Fortunately nobody was harmed, as the two seats by the door plug were empty

A few passengers’ personal items were sucked out of the plane during the event, disappearing alongside the disconcertingly large chunk of plane. They likely thought they’d never see their possessions again — and certainly not in working order. However, at least one Apple user may soon be reunited with their phone.

The iPhone was found in Portland by game designer Sean Bates, who posted his discovery on Twitter/X on Sunday. The phone was still attached to part of a charging cable, which was apparently destroyed when the device was torn from the plane.

“Found an iPhone on the side of the road,” wrote Bates, sharing photos of his find. “Still in airplane mode with half a battery and open to a baggage claim for #AlaskaAirlines ASA1282 Survived a 16,000 foot drop perfectly in tact [sic]!”

The device was found “sitting under a bush” on Barnes Road, which may have helped cushion its fall a little. 

Bates was able to quickly identify the iPhone as belonging to a passenger from Flight 1282 because, as well as not having a scratch, it also didn’t have a screen lock. This allowed him to open it and see that it had a travel confirmation and baggage receipt from Alaska Airlines addressed to someone named Cuong Tran. The iPhone was also in airplane mode.

It’s horrible security practice not to have a screen lock on your phone. Still, at least in this one highly unlikely turn of events, it allowed the iPhone’s provenance to be quickly divined.

Bates has since handed the iPhone over to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), who reportedly informed Bates that this was actually the second phone found from the flight. The NTSB has also since found the missing door plug, which landed in the backyard of a local school teacher’s home in Portland.

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