Amazingly 99.5% of domestic airlines’ checked bags are reunited with their owners at the baggage carousel. And within five days of a flight, 95% of those delayed bags eventually find their way home. But the rest often go up for sale creating great deals for savvy shoppers like you interested in buying lost luggage.
Visit Scottsboro, Alabama
This small city in Jackson County, population 14,770, is where lost luggage goes to find a new life. The Unclaimed Baggage Center holds exclusive contracts with all of the major US airlines to buy luggage that is officially declared lost, usually after a 90 day waiting period. The business got its start in 1970 when Doyle Owens filled a pick-up truck with unclaimed baggage from a Washington DC bus line and sold it on card tables in his home. Now the 40,000 square foot store includes more than a dozen departments from footwear to formal wear and even a cafe.
Find an Airport Auction
In 2011 nearly 2 million suitcases were reported to be either lost, damaged or delayed in the US. In Miami alone, about 10,000 bags go missing every year. Airports across the country hold auctions to unload these lost bags. Inside you could uncover anything from dirty laundry to diamond rings. The airport auction world is the focus of a Travel Channel reality show called Baggage Battles. Do an online search to find out if your local airport is holding a baggage auction.
Some airlines hold online auctions instead of live ones. For instance, baggage lost in Kentucky goes to an eBay store where it's auctioned off alongside other surplus property including vehicles, hand tools, heavy machinery and electronics.
Track Local Municipalities
Sometimes lost luggage and other abandoned or confiscated property is left to a community to dispose of. In Denver, the city regularly holds warehouse auctions which includes unclaimed, lost or stolen property that was previously in police custody. Check out the auction calendar and be ready to bid.
By Alison Storm
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* Hot deals expire quickly. This deal may no longer be valid.
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