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Electronics and Jewelry From Airlines’ Unclaimed Bags on Sale in Alabama

Aug 29, 2013 11:02 am

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If an airline never finds your checked bag, or if you don’t retrieve it for some reason, you can expect that Rolex, or Swatch, tucked between your suit in your suitcase to go on sale in Alabama after three months or so. So, that’s where it went.

— Dennis Schaal

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Kenneth Lu  / flickr.com

Checked bags at San Francisco International Airport are waiting for their people to arrive. Major airlines sell unclaimed bags after about three months. Kenneth Lu / flickr.com


Looking for some bargain shopping this holiday weekend? Look no further than other folks’ lost luggage.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center is a block-long discount center in Scottsboro, Ala., about 50 miles southwest of Chattanooga, Tenn. Each day, it puts out about 7,000 new items culled from 21,000 arrivals from airlines’ lost-luggage collections, items all unclaimed for at least three months.

The store deals with all the major U.S. airlines. The goods include clothes, books, baby strollers, cameras, sports equipment and such finery as mink coats and jewelry.

A new wrinkle in the wrinkled clothing business allows shoppers to participate in a “Storage Wars” type of experience.

Here’s how this adventure, dubbed “the UBC Baggage Experience,” works: A visitor is selected to help unpack a piece of luggage, view the contents and choose whether the item will be donated, thrown out or sorted, cleaned and priced for the retail store.

“If you haven’t been to the Unclaimed Baggage Center lately, you will be surprised,” said Brenda Cantrell of the luggage center, a private firm that buys the lost luggage from the airlines.

According to industry experts, most customers separated from their bags get them back within a day. Airlines typically spend at least 90 days trying to find the owners before selling the bags to the salvage company.

The store, closed Sundays, will be open on Labor Day.

Twitter: @latimestravel

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chris.erskine@latimes.com ___

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