‘I got really lucky’: American Girls doll forgotten in Japan, returned to Texas girl by pilot

PLANO, Texas — Against the odds, a little girl from Texas was reunited with her most prized possession after it was lost on a family trip to Japan.

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Valentina Dominguez, 9, and her family were on a five-day vacation to Tokyo over the summer. While they were in their hotel room, Valentina searched everywhere for Beatrice, her American Girl doll that goes everywhere with her, The Washington Post reported.

Valentina had received Beatrice from her grandmother four years ago for Christmas.

The family looked high and low in their hotel room to no avail and realized that Beatrice must have been left on the plane after falling under the seat. They reached out to Turkish Airlines but didn’t get a response until they were back home in Plano.

The doll had been found, but was being held at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport since it couldn’t be put on a plane due to security reasons, the airline told the Dominguez family. They had few choices: Have someone in Japan pick up the doll or ask someone flying there to bring the doll back to the U.S.

“I was feeling very, very sad,” Valentina told the Post. “And I felt like I did something wrong, and I was always going to be ashamed of it until I grew out of it.”

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Valentina’s mother went to Facebook to find out if any friends were going to Haneda Airport or if they knew anyone in Japan who could “run an errand.”

Word eventually got around to a neighbor of a pilot for American Airlines who lives in Richardson, Texas. Pilot Jim Danen said he frequently flies to Tokyo and would get the doll on his next trip there, the Post reported.

He kept his word and checked with the airport’s lost and found department, but they did not have the doll, as he did not realize that the family was communicating with Turkish Airlines directly and not with airport officials. The company had its own lost and found, and that’s where Beatrice was being kept.

Danen grabbed the doll on a subsequent trip to Tokyo on Aug. 16. A few days later, on Aug. 21, Danen drove to Plano to give Valentina her doll back.

“I think I brought you something that you left,” Danen told her, WFAA reported.

He also gave her a map of Beatrice’s journey and a photo of the doll by the plane’s window.

Valentina asked Danen if Beatrice had been “well-behaved on the flight,” WFAA reported.

Danen assured her that the doll was.

As for Beatrice’s future travel plans, Valentina has decided to leave her prized friend at home in Texas.

“Now that I lost her, I’m kind of being a little more cautious,” she said.

Danen had a bit of a connection with Valentina’s plight, as the pilot’s son had lost his toy raccoon, Rusty, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Rusty was never returned to Danen’s son, the Post reported.

“It’s a huge deal,” Valentina said of Danen’s quest to return Beatrice. “I got really lucky.”

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