- While 0.03% of luggage ends up lost, it ends up at a store called Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, Alabama.
- It is the only lost luggage store in the country and has contracts with all domestic airlines.
- They also have a found treasure museum displaying all their unique finds from their 53 year history.
Have you ever wondered where your lost luggage ends up?
Well, look no further than a store called Unclaimed baggage In Scottsboro, Alabama – about 150 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Airports are expected to be their busiest ever between Christmas and New Year this year, and with airlines, you're bound to lose a bag or two.
“With five decades of experience processing large quantities of one-of-a-kind items, we maximize each item’s potential for a second life,” Unclaimed Baggage said on its website.
Unclaimed Baggage said airline technology reunites more than 99.5 percent of baggage with its owners. However, if a bag is not claimed after a three-month search, those less than 0.03 percent of bags are orphaned and end up on the shelves of an Alabama store.
Unclaimed Baggage is the country's only lost baggage warehouse and will be the destination for all stray bags as it has contracts with all domestic airlines.
Once the bags arrive at the store, they are sorted into three categories by staff: resale, reuse or recycling.
About a third of the items are sold out, and prices are determined by estimated retail value and terms.
If an item is reused, it will be donated to communities around the world. If items need to be disposed of, they make sure all personal information is shredded and the items are properly recycled.
Items listed on the site include designer clothing, jackets, handbags, accessories, home goods, sporting goods, and electronics.
“I would say people come here to shop in our apparel department. The sales area here is 50,000 square feet of retail space and the sales floor inventory reaches 7,000 new items every day. Unclaimed Baggage Public Relations Manager Sonny Hood said, To DailyMail.com: “It's really a treasure hunt.”
Hood said the most expensive item the store ever sold was a men's platinum Rolex Presidential watch that sold for $64,000 and was sold for $32,000.
In the store's history, they have found three Birkin bags, two of which were found this year. They sold one last month that was appraised at about $30,000 and sold for $15,000.
Hood said Reclaimed for Good's charity shops are the “heartbeat” behind unclaimed baggage.
“Our goal when taking these bags and deciding whether to sell them, donate them or recycle them is that we want to recover these items for good. We want to keep them out of the landfill and get the most out of them,” Hood said.
Some of their charitable efforts including donating eyeglasses to Lions Club International and donating bags to children in foster care.
“On average, for every product sold, we donate an additional item to someone in need,” the store said on its website.
The store began in 1970 when Doyle Owens used a borrowed pickup truck and a $300 loan to purchase his first load of unclaimed luggage from the Trailways Bus Line in Washington, D.C.
Initially, the store was only open two days a week, but it became so popular after Doyle signed a contract with Eastern Airlines, where he opened the business full-time.
In 1981, the store launched its first ski sales, which became an annual tradition on the first Saturday in November that attracted customers camping out in the parking lot to get first in line.
By 1995, Doyle's son, Brian, and his wife, Sharon, took over the business and expanded the store to cover more than a city block, adding a café and a found-treasure museum that opened in 2023.
The café, called Cups Café, offers visitors menu options of sandwiches, salads, coffee and desserts.
In time for the store's 50th anniversary in 2020, they opened an online store but had to postpone their land tour.
Finally, in 2022, the company took its show on the road and traveled across all 50 states showcasing its collection of extraordinary finds.
The Museum of Found Treasures opens in 2023 and showcases their bizarre finds over the years including a suit of armor, a camera from the space shuttle, a Hoggle from the fantasy film Labyrinth, a shrunken head and more.
The store has become one of the state's top tourist destinations and has received visitors from all 50 states and more than 40 countries around the world, Hood said.
AAA Air travel is expected to reach 7.5 million this holiday season, surpassing 2019's record of 7.3 million.
However, losing luggage completely is relatively uncommon. Information from Aviation Consumer Bureau Protection found that between January and September 2023, operating airlines mishandled 0.64 bags for every 100 bags removed from aircraft.
This number represents checked bags that have been lost, damaged, delayed and stolen by passengers.
According to the US Department of TransportationAirlines have their own policies on when they officially declare a bag lost, but most fall between five and fourteen days.
Once the airline determines that your bag is missing, it is responsible for compensating the passenger up to $3,800.
Only then does the unclaimed baggage end up as the abandoned goods are sorted and resold in-store and online.
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