Have you ever lost your baggage at an airport while travelling to the US? You have to be amongst the 0.5% of the unlucky ones if your luggage has ever been lost at an airport. Even unluckier if your luggage wasn’t returned to you within 3 months as there are only 1-in-10,000 odds of truly losing your bag on a US flight.
But if you were amongst the unlucky ones then chances are your old belongings will be lying on the shelves of a 40,000 sq ft store in Alabama called the Unclaimed Baggage Centre.
This baggage centre has been around for over 5 decades and buys lost bags without seeing the contents via airlines, bus and train lines. These are then sorted into three parts – charity, recycling and resale. The ones for resale end up on the shelves of the store.
It is one of its kind store in the US – part lost and found and part thrift store. The store has an exclusive agreement with all the airlines and also picks up unclaimed cargo, and that’s where it gets all the amazing items from. These are much-loved items of people, who found them valuable enough to take with them on vacation, and are sold at discounted prices.
You can find different kinds of treasures here – ranging from clothes, jewellery, accessories, and electronics to valuable paintings. Not just that, they have also found some extraordinary items from lost luggage like a suit of armour, a 40-carat emerald ring, a camera from the space shuttle and even live rattlesnakes.
What happens to unclaimed luggage in India?
Well, India doesn’t have a single store, let alone one as massive as the one in Alabama. Here, the contents of the unclaimed luggage are sold through auctions organised by the Airport Authority of India. These auctions are open to the general public. The details of these auctions are published in leading national newspapers along with the display of such goods followed by a public auction.
Maybe you can also participate in these auctions to get some achaar ka dabba or some other delicious snacks. Jokes aside, if you are also interested in these auctions, then you can also participate in the e-auctions organized by AAI.