PHOTO: Don’t worry, your lost bags are well taken care of. (Photo via Flickr/Chor Ip)
Those awesome cabana shirts you once lost did indeed find a home.
And it was more than likely thanks to Unclaimed Baggage Center, a company we profiled back in January and that makes use of a great deal of the lost and unclaimed baggage the airlines collect.
Brenda Cantrell, brand ambassador for UBC, offered via press release: “One of the fears of traveling is not finding your bag once you reach your destination. We thought we would share what we have learned from over 45 years in the business of lost luggage to clear up some misconceptions.”
I know; this thought is usually greeted with sudden onset rage, but you may feel a bit better after reading the following 10 items. At the very least, you’ll be fun at parties with all the luggage trivia you now have.
1.The chances of permanently losing your bag are extremely small:
Don’t worry so much, because actually showing up with no baggage on the other end is extremely rare.
UBC states: “Of the billion or so passenger bags checked every year, roughly 1 percent fail to meet up with their owners at the claim carousel.”
And even you do lose that luggage, it won’t stay lost very long: “Within 24 hours, 80 to 90 percent of those ‘lost’ bags are found, and within five days 95 to 98 percent of that 1 percent make their way home.”
2. Lost Luggage Heads to Scottsboro, Alabama:
But don’t think UBC is grabbing luggage the moment it sits unclaimed at the carousel: “After an extensive and exhaustive 90-day search by the airlines to reunite a bag with its rightful owner, the Unclaimed Baggage Center purchases the unclaimed items from the airlines and the items are brought to the 40,000 square foot store in Scottsboro, Alabama.”
We just wish we could forward any holiday cards to our lost luggage at its new home.
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3. Lost items are thrown away, sold or donated:
But even those that make their way to Alabama aren’t assured of being sold straight off.
A release states: “Only about one-third of the purchased products make it to the floor of the retail store, which accounts for about 7,000 new items being brought to the store floor on a daily basis. Items deemed unsellable are either repurposed or thrown away.”
Translate: Those goofy, 20-year old socks are hilarious and all, but they may be better at the bottom of a garbage can.
4. Your lost items could be reclaimed for good:
While you might despair when thinking of those pants that fit you so well (but are now gone forever), it’s not all so bad: Your misfortune may help to better the world.
UBC states: “Through partnering with multiple mission organizations locally, regionally and around the globe, Unclaimed Baggage Center is able to reclaim more than half of these items for good.”
“Hundreds of thousands of eyeglasses donated to The Lions Club Sight First program; broken wheelchairs rebuilt for handicapped children and adults worldwide; millions of dollars worth of medical supplies donated to developing countries; and millions of dollars in clothing donated to the underprivileged.”
5. It's not always the airline's fault:
Ease back on your main thrusters when it comes to anger directed at the airlines.
“From what we can see, much of the responsibility for lost luggage is with the owner of the luggage.Many of the bags we receive are old, have damaged clasps or are not labeled. It is very difficult for the airlines to trace back luggage that is damaged or not labeled.”
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6. Checked luggage is only part of the problem:
And if you thought going carry-on solves the problem, think again.
From Unclaimed Baggage: “While checked bags account for a large portion of the inventory at UBC, the store also receives a large amount of items left on the plane.”
7. People pack more than just clothes:
As you all know, we aren’t all losing just undergarments and socks.
UBC: “While clothing is the number one item we receive, the store has departments featuring electronics, sporting goods, books, household items, jewelry, formal wear, toys and much more.”
8. Lost luggage can contain the rare and unusual:
But you will never believe some of the things that get beyond the gates. (If we could just have a back story for all of them!)
“Throughout the years, Unclaimed Baggage has received about anything you can think of including moldy cheese, wedding dresses, rare heirlooms and artifacts, a live snake, musical instruments or expensive jewelry.”
9. While not the norm, unclaimed baggage can contain expensive items:
Then again, you may find an heirloom that would make Indiana Jones scream, “That belongs in a museum.”
The company explains: “UBC has received several high-dollar items including jewelry, electronics and historical documents. The highest price item the store sold was a Men's Presidential platinum Rolex valued at $65,000 and we sold it for $23,000.”
10. Lost luggage creates a one-of-a-kind shopping experience:
UBC paints quite the picture of an enormous location: “Unclaimed Baggage Center covers more than one city block and attracts over 1 million visitors a year from every state and over 40 foreign countries. The store offers something for everyone: treasure hunt and thrifty shopping; clothing, electronics, home furnishings, books, jewelry, trinkets and other unique items.
"Need to know more? Everyday UBC hosts an Unclaimed Baggage Experience, where a guest gets to unpack a bag that has never been sorted by the airlines.”
Sounds like you are in store for quite the experience.