Where does lost airline luggage go?
Abandoned bags all go to the same place: a 40,000-square-foot thrift store called the Unclaimed Baggage Center.LEARN MORE
Ever see an abandoned bag sitting on an airport baggage carousel? Turns out you can buy the items that travelers lose, forget or just leave behind.
Losing your bag while traveling can be a nightmare. But what happens to all that luggage that's abandoned? It turns out you can actually shop for some of that stuff and score some pretty good deals.
First, the good news: Only a tiny fraction of luggage ends up lost and abandoned — just 0.03% of all bags.
Maybe the owner forgot it or didn't think it was worth tracking down, or it simply went to the wrong city and they gave up trying to find it.
Catherine Apundo knows what it's like to lose a bag.
"I'm still searching and hope I can find it, but it's really frustrating me," she said.
The rules say that if a suitcase goes unclaimed for three months with no name on it, the contents can be sold. That's where Stephanie Grime jumps in.
"I heard that you could buy people's lost airline luggage. My first thought was, 'Oh my God, that's terrible," she said.
But Grime now loves to hunt for good deals, and she’s built a following online doing just that. She first heard about the Unclaimed Baggage Store five years ago.
"I'm like, how is that even legal? How is that possible?" she said. "They have had this unique contract with all of the airlines since the 1970s."
From live rattlesnakes to the Hoggle puppet from the movie "Labyrinth," employees at Unclaimed Baggage have found some crazy things over the years. Still, what Grime goes looking for is a deal.
"I bought St. John heels that retail for $500. And I got these for $65," she said.
That’s a huge markdown, but Grime says those deals are harder to find now because of the buzz online about the store.
"Social media is a powerful tool," she said.
She says it’s always a good idea to double-check the retail price before you buy to make sure it’s actually marked down. She says it may take some hunting to find a deep discount.
Finally, to avoid your own luggage going to the Unclaimed Baggage Store, be sure to put your name both inside and outside of the bag, and not just one outside tag that sometimes falls off.
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