Monday, May 27, 2024

Where Does Unclaimed Luggage Go?

Lost or unclaimed luggage is an unfortunate but common occurrence in the airline industry. Despite the best efforts of airlines and airport staff to reunite lost luggage with its owners, many bags remain unclaimed. So, what happens to unclaimed luggage?

When luggage is lost or delayed, airlines typically try to reunite the bags with their owners as quickly as possible. The airline often begins its search in the flight database for any identifying information. Other identifiers such as name tags or baggage claim receipts also assist in making contact with the owner.

If the bag is not claimed within a certain timeframe, it is considered unclaimed.

yellow unclaimed luggage in empty airport terminal
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Once the luggage is deemed unclaimed, it is handed over to the airport’s lost and found department.

Here, the bags are cataloged and stored in a secure area, usually for a period of 90 days. During this time, the airport staff will continue to search for any identifying information or contact the airline to locate the owner.

Unclaimed luggage is generally kept in storage for a specific duration before being auctioned off to compensate for the expenses borne by airports and airlines.

Unclaimed Luggage Goes To Auction

stack of vintage suitcases
Photo Credit: Nick Fewings

If the owner is not found within the 90-day period, the unclaimed luggage is subject to auction. The auction can be physical or online, typically including various unclaimed items, clothing, electronics, and jewelry.

The proceeds from the auction are then used to cover the costs of storing the unclaimed luggage and any additional expenses incurred by the airport.

It’s important to note that not all unclaimed luggage is sold at auction. Some items, such as perishable goods or hazardous materials, are disposed of in accordance with local regulations.

Additionally, some airports and airlines may have different policies for handling unclaimed luggage. It’s always best to check with the specific airport or airline for their procedures.

The Airport & Bidders Are The Real Winners

While it may seem like a sad fate for unclaimed luggage, the auction process can benefit both the airport and the buyers.

For the airport, it helps to offset the costs of storing and managing unclaimed items. For the buyers, it can be an opportunity to purchase discounted items or find unique and interesting goods they may not have otherwise had access to.

Although it may be disheartening for the luggage’s owner, the auction process presents a chance for interested buyers to obtain distinctive and fascinating items at a reduced cost.

RELATED: Here’s What To Do If An Airline Loses Your Luggage


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