What Happens When an Airline Loses Your Luggage?


Unclaimed Baggage Center

Have you ever traveled on an airline, arrived at your destination, went to the carousel to get your luggage – and it wasn’t there? Thousands of passengers have this experience each year. So, if your luggage is never found, what happens to it?

The Airlines Attempt To Find The Owner
The airlines perform an extensive three-month search to try to find the owner of the .5% of unclaimed luggage each year. This is an attempt to reunite the owner with their suitcase. Claims are eventually paid on lost bags. Once it is determined the owners cannot be located, the lost bags are sold to the Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC). The airlines and the purchaser believe this gives a second life to unclaimed items.

What Happens Next?
All of the lost bags, purchased by the Unclaimed Baggage Center, arrive by the tractor-trailer load at the processing facility in Scottsboro, Alabama. Next, everything is sorted and priced. Anything can be found inside the luggage, including guitars, vacuums, headphones, clothes, and unusual items such as a suit of armor.

Unclaimed Baggage Center Is a Huge Store
If you visit the store, it is suggested that you wear comfortable shoes. You will have several floors to visit that cover more than 40,000 square feet separated in numerous departments. Between the “women’s tanks tops” and “women’s dresses,” you will find a museum. This houses the center’s most unique discoveries, which include car engines, moose antlers, and a six-foot-tall paper mache Tinkerbell. You will also see the movie puppet from Labyrinth. Some customers spend hours at the store. So, when they get hungry, they can visit Cups Cafe. The cafe serves everything from baked cookies to a backcountry BBQ. You can also enjoy a Starbucks coffee as well as Dippin’ Dots ice cream.

This year the store celebrates its 50th anniversary. This offers everyone from the fifty states an opportunity to visit the grand store. There will also be a road tour manager hired to tour the states in a 50-year-old Chevy truck. This is what the founder, Mr. Doyle Owens, drove to buy his first load of unclaimed luggage in 1970. The owner borrowed $300, drove to Washington, D.C., and purchased his first load of unclaimed luggage.

The Store Is A Tourist Destination
Through the years, the store has become a popular tourist destination in the state of Alabama. It hosts nearly one million visitors annually. The store employs 140 people. The workers who unpack the luggage sometimes find sad items. They report the saddest things are containers of ashes. Some of the funnier things was a suitcase packed with cheese. Other finds have included a 5.8-carat diamond solitaire ring and a xylophone constructed from animal hide and bone.

What Does UBC Do With Items They Cannot Sell?
There are always suitcases that contain items that the store cannot sell – this might also include the suitcase. Items that are in poor condition or that are not “family-friendly” are thrown away. One-third of the items the store purchases are donated to various groups such as The Salvation Army, Lions Club Sight First Program, medical mission teams, and several charities located in the Scottsboro area.