Retrieving Flight 1549 Survivors' Wallets

Passengers on the downed plane may be without their belongings for awhile.

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The matter of wallets, credit cards, and other items belonging to Flight 1549 passengers is, admittedly, insignificant in light of the main story: Through some combination of pilot skill and luck, everyone on the flight survived. But as a personal finance reporter, I couldn't help but wonder how, or whether, the survivors will retrieve their valuables.

The staffer answering the US Airways media hotline told me she has no information about such plans and isn't sure if such information will even be released publicly. Anyone interested can continue to check back on US Airways' Web site.

The general protocol on escaping from a downed plane -- or any accident, for that matter -- is to leave your belongings behind. Carrying backpacks or even an iPod could hamper passengers trying to leave a dangerous area. Besides, in a life-or-death situation, keeping tabs on credit cards, cash, and IDs is the last thing on anyone's mind. (Social security cards shouldn't be in your wallet, anyway.) If the passengers' belongings are inaccessible for an extended period, then they can simply do what one does after losing a bag or wallet: Cancel credit cards, get a new driver's license, and go about one's life. It's a wonderful thing to be able to do.