Ever seen a lonely suitcase cutting laps of a baggage carousel after everyone has gone, and wondered where it goes if nobody comes forward to claim it?
Regardless, it was thrilling to discover today that unclaimed baggage in the US goes to a company that then sells the items online.
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This is a delicious revelation on many fronts. Not only can you virtually rifle through a stranger’s suitcase (without having to work in border control), but you can land some mad bargains for your efforts.
The creatively named Unclaimed Baggage Center buys “orphaned” luggage and gives them a second life by selling, donating, and recycling their contents.
They have purchasing agreements for unclaimed items with all domestic airlines and other travel and transportation companies in the US.
After a three-month search for the owner, if a bag remains unclaimed (a fate met by less than 0.03 per cent of all checked luggage in the US) that’s where the Unclaimed Baggage Center comes in.
They have a special section called “weird and wonderful finds” on the website and that’s a damn fine place to start, particularly if you’re in the market for a jacket for a guide dog or a leather-embossed pool cue.
There’s actually some solid gold to be found, like this excellent jacket. The only real danger with a distinctive item like this is you run the risk of swaggering past someone in the street who yells “that’s my jacket”, but it’s a risk you’d be willing to take for bargains like these.
You also have to pause and wonder what the backstory is behind some of these unclaimed suitcases.
Imagine the voyeuristic thrill of buying a camera and going through the snaps on the memory card. INTRIGUING.
Let’s take a moment to salute the wild party animal who lost this bag of gear:
The company has five decades of experience “processing large volumes of one-of-a-kind items to maximise each item’s potential for a second life”.
Not every item in an unclaimed suitcase is deemed resellable, so some goes to charity.
On average, for every item sold, they donate an additional item to someone in need.
“From the earliest days, our goal has been to find a purpose for any item possible,” reads the website.
“We have established partnerships with dozens of local, national, and global charity organisations so leftover items can be reclaimed for good”.
In Australia we have a slightly different system, where lost property from airports is auctioned, with the proceeds going to charity.
Unfortunately the Unclaimed Baggage Center in the US doesn’t post internationally at this stage, but if you find yourself holidaying in Scottsboro Alabama anytime in the future, you can visit their bricks and mortar store.