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Losing luggage when flying has to be one of the biggest pains of traveling. But it can be a goldmine for others. How? Well, Unclaimed Baggage has made a business for the last 50 years of selling off unclaimed and lost airline baggage and its contents. And those contents can be pretty remarkable.
The unique company offers a treasure trove of goods that airlines have been unable to reunite with their former owners like clothing, footwear, formal wear, and electronics. While those are pretty standard, there have been several downright wild objects found and claimed like a Chinese dragon kite, a suit of armor, and even a 40-carat emerald. And that’s not all. An original Jim Henson puppet (Hoggle) from the movie The Labyrinth, starring David Bowie, was found as well as a bullfrog purse, and rocket.
How does it work exactly? If a suitcase gets lost in transit, airlines conduct a 90-day suitcase tracing process. If it can't be returned to its owner, the airline will compensate the traveler. At the end of each year only about 0.0003 % of the roughly billions of bags checked are considered lost. That's where Unclaimed Baggage comes in. They buy the unclaimed luggage and sell it.
With so many wild possibilities, it’s no wonder the 50,000-square-foot store that stretches more than a city block in Alabama is one of the state’s top tourist attractions. “It’s amazing to see how even here—in Scottsboro, Alabama—Unclaimed Baggage could grow into an international destination,” said Unclaimed Baggage CEO Bryan Owens in a statement. “Any day you visit our store, you’re likely to see license plates from more than a dozen states. Those shoppers tell us they love driving to Unclaimed Baggage—even if it’s several hours each way—because they never know what they’ll find.”
Now, the nation’s only retailer of lost luggage items will hit the road for its 50th Anniversary. Starting March 20, Unclaimed Baggage will visit all fifty states over 12 months in a restored 1965 Chevrolet pickup truck, that will act as mobile museum revealing some of the fascinating finds of the unique retailer. There will also be a series of giveaways associated with the tour, and the company will debut a new e-commerce platform along with a new website.
So, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to turn one man’s lost luggage into your treasure.