Where Does All The Lost Luggage On Airplanes Go?

Have you ever left something on an airplane?  The list of items I’ve left behind is endless.  And, very infrequently have I ever recovered any of those things.  There was one example of why I continue to support American Airlines because an Admirals Club agent left the club and found the empty plane I had left my headphones on a couple hours previously.  She held on to them for a couple weeks until I returned to that airport and retrieved them.  But, that’s absolutely the exception.  Where does all the rest of the stuff end up?  Some of it likely ends up with dishonest employees.  And, the rest has to get disposed of.  I had heard rumors of a store in Arizona that had built a business selling unclaimed items, but that was quite some time ago.

That’s why this New York Times article was interesting to me, detailing a store in Alabama that has a somewhat thriving business collecting unclaimed items from airports around the country and organizing them for sale.

Lost Luggage

And, it’s a whole lot more than just suitcases:

How great a business is unclear, given the family-owned company’s reluctance to disclose what it considers proprietary information, other than to insist that the sign that stands outside this nondescript strip mall — “7,000 new items daily” — represents truth in advertising. She did estimate the annual traffic count at nearly a million, drawn from every state and at least 40 countries — including a commercial pilot based in Qatar who drops by regularly with his wife. Buses are welcome.

The craziest items they’ve seen?

Little can surprise Mrs. Cantrell anymore after seeing wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, full suits of armor and rare musical instruments wander in. Some items are so unusual that they are stashed in the company “museum,” or exhibited on the store walls, unavailable for any price. On exhibit last week was a tribal breastplate and an African djembe, or drum.

I’ve gotta be honest.  If I used the airlines to transport a suit of armor, I would most definitely be aware that they hadn’t delivered it.  I guess it’s possible the airline lost it long enough and compensated the passenger.  But, when they found it, didn’t someone put two and two together?  Or was it more like, “Hey, any idea which customer we lost a suit of armor for last month this one belonged to?”.

Nestled in between Huntsville, Alabama and Chattanooga, TN (with Nashville and Atlanta a longer but manageable drive), it’s certainly a bit off the beaten path.

Lost Luggage



Am I crazy to contemplate the roughly 5-hour round trip ride to check it out on an upcoming Atlanta trip?

I’m more than a bit curious.


The post Where Does All The Lost Luggage On Airplanes Go? was published first on Pizza In Motion.

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    1. I have no issue with the shameless plug. It partially validates my craziness to want to go!

      And, besides, I’ve never seen a shameless pug before. Is it a cute dog?

  1. I stopped at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro two years back and yes, it is definitely out of the way. No Interstate highway nearby and it’s miles from any significant airport, but I was driving from North Carolina to Arkansas (along the more Southern route rather than on I-40) and it actually ended up only adding about an hour or so to my journey and I got to see some really rural Alabama off the beaten path.

    It used to be that there were great bargains to be had at the UBC but that came to a halt years back. When processing items to sell, they’ve been looking up similar prices from eBay and elsewhere. No more Tumi rollaboards for $50, they’re $300 now. Noise cancelling headphones? The cheap ones are $25. The good ones are $200.

    Still it’s an interesting and worthwhile stop for a frequent traveler, though we generally know better than to check a suitcase.


      1. It’s something we travelers simply have no choice but to cross off the bucket list, like touring the Boeing plant or a behind-the-scenes tour of a airline. 🙂

        I’ll look forward to your write-up.

  2. We were there about seven years ago while on a road trip. At the time we found it very interesting, in part because it’s such a huge sprawled-out building (think Wall Drug in South Dakota) containing so many different kinds of merchandise. A small part of me cynically wonders if ALL of their inventory comes from lost baggage, not that it really matters. We bought our first Bose Headphones there at a significant discount after picking through several to find the newest ones. I would guess we paid 30% off the retail but honestly can’t remember. I don’t know that I’d drive five hours each way to see it, but we’re not enthusiastic shoppers, with the exception of deep discounts on something we need or want.

    1. Ed, I read your post more carefully and gather you’re talking five hours round trip from Atlanta. As suggested earlier, it is a place for frequent travelers to cross off their bucket list so it might be worth it for you. There’s plenty of “stuff” to see. Just don’t raise your expectations TOO high.

  3. See if you can find my Scott’s slippahs that I left on my UA flight to Rome.

    email to UA of course went unanswered even when I told them exactly where I had left them and on which flight. Surprising, right?

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