Q. I left my wallet in the seatback pocket of a Delta flight to Amsterdam. I contacted Delta through its lost and found website. Fortunately, the wallet was found in Amsterdam but Delta would not send it to me unless I could give them a FedEx account, which I didn’t have and which I wasn’t able to sign up for because the FedEx website in Europe wouldn’t let me sign up with a U.S.-based address and credit card. Finally, Delta agreed to sent my wallet back to my home address, where it arrived two days after I returned home. My trip was ruined by not having my own credit card and cash (I ended up using my daughter’s credit card to get by). What should I have done differently to prevent all this from happening?

A. Oh, so many things. First, I truly sympathize with you because the same thing has happened to me. I put my passport in a seatback pocket on a Virgin Atlantic flight and although I knew it was in there somewhere and I searched for 20 minutes before the flight landed, I couldn’t find it to save my life. It must have fallen into a black hole. I had to talk my way into the U.K. without a passport. Not fun. Luckily, Virgin found my passport (in Miami!) and delivered it to my London hotel in time for my return home. And without charge. It would have been nice if Delta had done the same for you.

So what should you have done differently? First, pretend that the seatback pocket isn’t there. Never, ever put anything in the seatback pocket. It’s filthy for one thing, and for another it’s a recipe for disaster.

Second, I can’t imagine why you couldn’t have accessed the U.S. FedEx website even in Europe (rather than the European website). Or have called FedEx by phone and established an account. Although if you didn’t have your credit card, I’m not sure how this would have been possible anyway.

Third, never put all your credit cards and cash in one place. I always put one credit card and some cash in my passport holder along with my passport, and the rest in my wallet.

Fourth, you know the old advertising slogan American Express used? “Never leave home without it?” I never leave home without my Amex card because on more than one occasion I’ve either lost or misplaced my wallet and Amex either issued me a credit card at one of their offices on the spot, or delivered a replacement card within 24 hours and covered my hotel expenses with just a phone call while waiting for the card to arrive. Credit cards issued by banks typically can’t issue replacement cards immediately or they can’t overnight them to you in 24 hours.

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