Special tool rescues lost AirPods from train tracks

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lost AirPods
Not everyone has the ears for AirPods
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

An AirPod falling out of your ear is not a question of if, but when.

The when for many unlucky souls in the San Francisco Bay Area offers the rest of us a warning to not wear wireless earbuds anywhere near train or subway tracks. Still, when one falls on the tracks, it isn’t the end of the world. Or even sometimes the AirPod itself.

Bay Area Rapid Transit, which operates commuter trains in San Francisco and surrounding counties, says its lost and found department received 52 reports of lost AirPods so far this year, according to Mashable. That number is on track to outpace last year’s total of 80.

BART’s Twitter feed serves as a handy platform for commuters to report missing AirPods. Pop-outs proved so common, BART equipped station agents with a grabbing tool to pick fallen AirPods from the tracks.

When that happens, it doesn’t go on the annual total of lost units.

“What we don’t track and what we do know happens frequently is how often a station agent is told one has dropped and the agent contacts the Operations Control Center for work order to go on the track to retrieve it to the passenger,” BART communications manager Alicia Trost told Mashable.

AirPods not a great fit for every ear

Because ears’ contours are as unique as fingerprints, AirPods fit more snugly in some ears than others. While AirPods offer incredible sound for a set of tiny earbuds, an ongoing criticism is the price ($159) and the cost of replacing a single AirPod ($69).

One thread in Apple’s discussion forum is devoted to people looking for advice on how to keep from losing an AirPod. Tech sites frequently post tips on how to make AirPods fit more tightly. One artist even turned her AirPods into earrings to keep them in place.

BART’s Trost offers a few tips of her own: Keep the AirPods out of your ears while on escalators, on the platform or while boarding the train, when one could easily fall through the gap between platform and vehicle.

“Once on the train, just know if they fall out, you’ll be searching the floors of a likely crowded train car moving at speeds of up to 80 mph,” she said.

The short answer: Don’t wear AirPods at any time during your commute. Find another way to cope.