Airlines reported 21.6 million mishandled, misplaced and lost bags in 2016, according to SITA, a leading airline information technology company. Around 6 check-in bags per 1000 travelers were lost or misplaced in 2017, according to SITA’s annual report on airline luggage handling in the same year. Though airlines are technologically getting smarter about handling of checked bags, luggage loss or misplacement is still a prevalent nightmare for many air travelers.
Checked bags are returned to their rightful owners within 48 hours in 85 percent cases of luggage loss or misplacement. Only 7% of the found luggage, which airports store for 90 days awaiting the owners to turn up and collect their belongings, remains unclaimed.
Do you know what happens to unclaimed luggage? Do you ever wonder where lost or stolen bags end up? Are you eager to know what airlines do if they fail to determine or contact the owner of unclaimed check-in bags?
The articles which remain orphaned for 90 days at US airports’ lost and found baggage counters are disposed of at Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. Unlike worldwide auction houses for lost checked luggage, Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC) in Alabama is a 40,000-square-foot store for retail shopping of secondhand goods. Founded in 1970, it is the ultimate destination for budget shoppers and bargain hunters on the lookout for secondhand, refurbished things at lower prices than the market value.
Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Albama inks agreements with major US airlines to source lost, unclaimed checked bags. With one million customers annually from 40 countries, the UBC is one of the prime tourist destinations in Alabama, USA. The merchandise of various articles from diamond rings to electronic devices to clothes to ski boots found in unclaimed luggage is handled by 140 employees at the store.
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One of the most interesting things about Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, AL is that a customer is let to unpack a bag (from new arrivals) and reveal the content inside at 2.30 PM every day. A board reading “7,000 new items daily”, outside the 40,000-square-foot retail shopping facility hints at the thriving business here. Such is the popularity of Unclaimed Baggage Center is that a commercial pilot from Qatar does often visit the store with his wife.
Scottsboro’s Unclaimed Baggage Center also houses a museum which exhibits some of the bizarre items like 50 vacuum-packed frogs and Egyptian artifacts including a shrunken head from 1500 BC, which have been uncovered from flyers’ unclaimed luggage.
Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro Alabama has a dedicated section for electronic devices from checked bags lost or misplaced or stolen or left unclaimed at US airports. Bargain hunters frequent this place to buy digital cameras, iPads, laptops and tablets. The store makes sure to delete user date from electronics items before putting them on sale. Hundreds of customers queue up overnights to grab skiing gear and garb at cheaper rates the moment the store throws open the door in the morning.
Giving a tough competition to similar businesses and retail stores in adjacent neighborhoods, Alabama’s Unclaimed Baggage Center dishes out irresistible rates on clothes of all sorts, including designer outfits from air travelers’ lost bags. Don’t underestimate the store for selling used clothes. All of the clothes are meticulously cleaned and laundered at the in-house facility before being put on a display on the sales floor. Around 50,000 pieces of clothing are laundered here every month.
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Some of the best and costliest finds from lost checked bags at Unclaimed Baggage Center, Alabama are a 5.8-carat diamond ring, a 40.95-carat emerald, a designer Versace gown, a full suit of armor, a $18,000 Limoges vase which the center sold for a meager 80 dollars, a fighter jet missile guidance system which the center returned to the Air Force, and a space shuttle camera which was handed over to NASA.
At times, some of those whose lost or stolen checked luggage ends up at Unclaimed Baggage Center in Alabama, happen to shop for their own things at economical prices. In 1998, a man bought a pair of ski boots for his wife at this thrift store. Later on, he found that the boots were his wife’s when he discovered her name written inside them.
Unclaimed Baggage Center Scottsboro, Alabama not only makes profits but also donates the items which hardly sell. It donates eyeglasses for Lions Clubs International’s Sight First program, wheelchairs to locally-run charities and unsold clothes to the needy. It disburses medical supplies to charities in developing countries. Suitcases are converted into luv luggage and given to children in foster homes and the homeless in Alabama.
Apart from shopping for lost luggage items at Unclaimed Baggage Center, which is as exciting as a treasure hunt, you can spend sometime over a Starbucks coffee at the in-house cafe. There are several attractions to see around the store in Scottsboro, Alabama.