What happened to my LOST luggage?

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It went to Alabama. Yes, Alabama! Scottsboro, Alabama, to be exact.

Most of the airlines based in the US sell “mishandled” bags to one company located in this little town in Alabama. The Unclaimed Baggage Center buys luggage from airlines with the contents site unseen. Clothing makes up about 60 percent of the millions of items that pass through the ­store annually. Cameras, electronics, sporting goods, jewelry, glasses, books and luggage help keep the constantly rotating shelves fully stocked.

lost-luggage1

The percentage of bags that ultimately end up in Alabama is quite low. It’s reported to be about 3.4 out of every 1,000 bags that are checked. But, with the total number of bags being checked, the total in actual numbers is pretty large, something like 10 million bags per year.

What the company pays airlines for the bags that it purchases is undisclosed, but the prices at which they sell the items found inside is 50 to 80 per cent below retail. Even though that is for used items, it is a good indicator that the purchase price paid to the airlines is small.

Here are some ideas about how to prevent your bag from ending up in Scottsboro, Alabama:

  • Don’t overpack. Strained zippers are more likely to pop, spilling your favorite T-shirts on the tarmac and your souvenirs on the carousel.
  • Label your luggage inside and out. Airlines can also use items like itineraries to help determine who you are.
  • Put your name on smaller, easy-to-lose items like glasses cases and cameras.
  • Mark your luggage with an identifying ribbon or tape.
  • Prepare for the worst: Keep your money, prescriptions, travel documents and a change of underwear close to your person.

If you are passing through Scottsboro, Alabama, you might want to check out the Unclaimed Baggage Center.

unclaimed luggage

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September 8, 2017 |

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