99.5% of luggage that is transported on airlines make it to the right destination and makes it to the hands of the rightful owners. But what happens to the 0.5%? That might not seem like a lot, but with 17 million people traveling by air everyday, the numbers of lost luggage is staggering.
Airlines have 90 days to find the rightful owners. If they don't succeed then they must reimburse the travelers for their loses. But what happens to the luggage the airlines are stuck with? Can you buy it? Do they auction it off?
In 1970 a man from Alabama named Doyle Owens started purchasing unclaimed baggage from all the major airlines and taking the baggage to Alabama. Doyle and his wife Sue would sell the contents of the luggage from their home. Today, the Owens family have contracts with all the major airlines to purchase unclaimed baggage that can't be returned to the owners. And it's a lot! They bring the luggage in by the truckload! The small operation from the Owens' house has grown into a 40,000 square foot store that stretches a city block.
Found a Bargain! $149 Jersey for $25!
Unclaimed Baggage Center Location
This store is in the small Alabama town of Scottsboro, nestled along the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Appalachians in northeast Alabama. The Unclaimed Baggage Center is known worldwide as the place to go to find name brand items at thrift store prices.
The Nitty Gritty
The Unclaimed Baggage Center is open 6 days a week and employs over 100 people. The front vestibule of the store contains a small museum with unusual and unique items that have been found that are on display. When visitors enter the center they will see that the store is divided into departments just like a retail store. Electronics, shoes, fine jewelry, and books as an example. The store also has a cafe where visitors can relax and have a bite to eat. Every day at 2:30, visitors can attend a viewing of the opening of a piece of luggage and watch as they demonstrate the procedures of evaluating and cleaning any items that are inside.
Lost Luggage Sold Here!
Interesting Facts About The Unclaimed Baggage Center
- Hoggle from the David Bowie movie Labyrinth is in the museum.
- Has the largest dry cleaning facility in Alabama.
- Has a separate 4000 square foot store next door where clearance items are sold.
- One third of items that arrive at the store are donated to charities.
- Baggage openers are trained to separate the contents of the baggage into 4 categories. Sell, Clean, Donate, or Trash.
- Unclaimed Baggage Center | Alabama Attractions
Experience Unclaimed Baggage, one of the most unique Alabama tourist attractions. Come browse our selection of lost luggage – you never know what you’ll find.
Good News and Bad News
Bad news first. Although the Unclaimed Baggage Center has a website, they do not sell merchandise online. Not on their website, not on Ebay. However the good news is you have to physically go there to find these bargains, Well worth the trip!
Have You Ever Lost Your Luggage at the Airport?
Scott Roberts (author) from Summerville, Georgia on October 09, 2017:
Yes. We're lucky enough to live an hour away. We go every 3 or 4 months. Always find good deals.
Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 09, 2017:
This might make a fine site to visit on a vacation. Have you ever bought anything there?