Ever wonder what happens to lost luggage? It ends up here.

It is every traveler’s worst nightmare: the airline has lost your luggage. While most bags are merely delayed or misdirected and are eventually reunited with their owners, there is a small percentage that never make it back. What then?

As it turns out, many of those misdirected bags that are never reunited with their rightful owners end up at a facility in, of all places, Alabama, where their contents are inventoried and then put up for sale. Today, TheTravelPro is pleased to present a guest article on that facility and its reason for being.

A Pit Stop for the Unusual
By Brenda Cantrell

Those who love to travel and those who need to travel, and who do so on a regular basis, have an underlying concern about the possibility of the airline losing their luggage.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center
Rest assured this possibility is unlikely. Of the billion or so passenger bags checked every year, roughly 1/2 of one percent fails to meet up with their owners at the claim carousel. 

Within 24 hours, 80 to 90 percent of those “lost” bags are found, and within five days, 95 to 98 percent of them make their way home. Over the course of the next 90-plus days, through a comprehensive baggage tracing process conducted by the airlines, over half of the remaining bags are reunited with their owner.

This leaves only a fraction of bags that remain lost and these bags eventually head to what has been dubbed as the “Lost Luggage Capital of the World”—the Unclaimed Baggage Center located in Scottsboro, Alabama. This 40,000 square-foot store receives over 1 million visitors per year and stocks 7,000 new items per day, making it a must-stop pit stop for any trip to the South.

With departments ranging from clothing, electronics, sporting goods, books, accessories and home décor, shopping at UBC is a treasure chest of possibilities. There is something for the entire family at this one-of-a-kind store.

Sure, a lot of the items found in suitcases fit what you would expect, but there are quite a few that leave you wondering what the story is. Over the years, here are few of the crazy items we have found in lost luggage:
  • Hoggle from "Labyrinth" – The Hoggle, David Bowie's dwarf-goblin minion in the 1986 movie, was found and is now located in the UBC Museum. 
  • Wedding Dresses – We hope that these dresses got lost on the way back from the wedding instead of on the way to the wedding! 
  • High-End Items – UBC recently sold a Presidential platinum Rolex valued at $65,000; the store sold it for $23,000. That is only one example of the luxurious items that make their way through our store. 
  • A rattlesnake – While the store is not sure how this live animal made it to us, we decided to let this one go and not sort it among the normal luggage. 
  • Cash Barbie – A woman purchased a Barbie at UBC for her daughter and later the girl found $500 in rolled bills inside the body of the doll. 
  • A full suit of armor – While UBC receives many artifacts, this suit of armor was merely a replica of a 19th century piece. 

While not every visitor finds something as unusual as these items, shoppers at UBC daily go on a treasure hunt looking for discounted items or something they might not be able to find at the supercenter down the street.

When you visit the store, strike up a conversation with some of the employees to hear great stories of what customers have found throughout the years. Check the calendar of events on the store’s website for the annual Ski Sale or to get a chance to unpack Santa’s lost bag.

We also host jewelry events and many others during weekends throughout the year. Thousands of tourists each week come to hunt for treasure at UBC. On any given day, license plates from many different states can be seen in the store parking lot. For more information visit http://www.unclaimedbaggage.com.

Brenda Cantrell is the brand ambassador at Unclaimed Baggage Center, where she has been working for nearly 20 years. 

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos provided by UBC
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