iPhone Survives 16,000-Foot Fall After Getting Sucked Out of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282

Remember this next time you drop your phone on the sidewalk and crack the screen.
NTSB via Getty Images, Apple

By now, you may have heard about Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 and its faulty door plug. It blew off the aircraft at 16,000 feet shortly after takeoff from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, California on Friday, prompting an emergency landing. Fortunately, nobody was harmed as a result, but it probably won’t surprise you to learn that some items were yanked out of that aperture in the ordeal. One of them happened to be an iPhone, and—here’s the surprising part—it reportedly survived the long, long fall just fine.

Twitter/X user Sean Bates posted on Sunday that he’d discovered an iPhone “on the side of the road” that was still set to airplane mode. When Bates picked it up, they noticed an email for a baggage receipt dated Thursday, seemingly for the very same flight. It appears to be a 14 Pro or one of the iPhone 15 models, judging from the shape of the notch at the top of the screen, inside some kind of slim case. And, inexplicably, everything seemed to be in working order. The iPhone was covered in water drops and grass as you’d expect, but otherwise, it evidently emerged from the plunge with minimal damage.

“It was still pretty clean, no scratches on it, sitting under a bush,” Bates told CBS News. “And it didn’t have a screen lock on it, so I opened it up and it was in airplane mode with travel confirmation and baggage claim for Alaska 1282.” Perhaps the bush broke its fall.

A representative of the National Transportation Safety Board arrived on the scene to evaluate the find and reportedly told Bates it was the second such phone that the agency had found. The door plug off the Boeing 737 Max 9s, meanwhile, ended up in a Portland teacher’s backyard.

While Apple might not want to broach the topic of a narrowly avoided midair disaster, you’d figure this would be excellent fodder for a TV spot hyping up the latest iPhones’ durability. Ditto for whoever’s responsible for the case on the thing. Electronics are often advertised in terms of their IP-rated water and dust resistance, and of course, we’ve heard of iPhones making it through rather grisly accidents before. But maybe it’s time the industry moves to a criteria that involves crashing back to Earth from a five-figure height. That’s a pretty resounding endorsement if I’ve ever heard one.

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