I Found Your Lost Luggage

As I mentioned in the last post, I just took a long weekend family trip to Huntsville Alabama. Down the road from there about 45 minutes (and about an hour from Chattanooga) is the Unclaimed Baggage Center. It’s been on my list of places I wanted to go for a long time. It started out in the 1970s and has been it its current huge form since 1995.

They say a million+ items pass through here each year. That’s how much stuff gets lost by the airlines and is never recovered. It’s kind of a bittersweet shopping experience. On the one hand it’s great to pick up items in good condition (often still new) at a bargain price. On the other hand it’s kind of sad knowing that somebody lost their things and will never get them back. As we pondered while we were there, most people pack their favorite things when they travel, the clothes they think make them look their best or the ones that they gravitate to as the most comfortable. So rack upon rack has someone’s favorite pair of jeans, the new shirt they just bought for the trip, or the gadgets they got as Christmas or birthday presents. Bummer!

But I got over it and picked up this stash pictured here for a shade over $65. There are four nice shirts (two with original tags still on them) a coffee grinder, a kid’s sling backpack, a mini mouse for a laptop, a portable digital picture frame, two books, a sticker book, and a sparkly brooch my daughter went ga-ga over. There was also a grab bag packet of stationary and notebooks that’s not in the picture. When we opened it up there was a Moleskin notebook inside. Nice.

There are electronics, cameras, golf clubs, (legal) drugs, and all kinds of jewelry and cosmetics. It’s like a trip to Big Lots—you’re never quite sure what they’re going to have—but it’s a huge store in two buildings. What’s funny is the pattern of what people so often lose or leave on the plane: there’s no shortage of wide-brimmed hats, snorkel gear, and earphones.

If an airline lost your luggage and it never turned up, you might recognize an item or two here in Scottsboro, Alabama.

See more at unclaimedbaggage.com

  1. Samantha

    I love this place and regret that I didn’t get there as often as I could since I lived in Huntsville for almost 7 years.

    This was the place college students would shop for clothes, shoes and other supplies. The prices as you’ve said are unbelieveable.

    I think I’ve seen every book, designer brand, and cultural artifact there. And they have a cool little deli too. Great review!

  2. Irv

    I’m stunned! I had no idea such a place even existed! So that’s where my favorite Sierra Designs jacket ended up. Hope it went to a happy home. And what about all the toiletries, pocket knives, etc. people lose going through security — there a special section for that? Always wondered what happened to that stuff.

  3. tim

    Irv–I’m not sure where all those knives and toiletries go. I didn’t see any sign of that and they must get hundreds of thousands of them.

  4. Leatherlion

    That’s amazing. It’s like a who’s who of lost items. It would be a great movie to take 5 random items, track them back to their owner and get the stories of when they were lost!

  5. hoboxia

    “I got over it” excellent. You’ve definitely put that spot on my cross country meanderings, thanks for pointing it out.


  6. HouseofTutors

    Continental Airlines recently lost a bag of mine filled with irreplaceable possessions. This bag was a carry-on – not a checked, a carry-on — bag and was moved without my knowledge or permission from the overhead bin. No one has seen the bag since.

    This took place on my way to Rhode Island to attend the graduation ceremonies for members of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. The First Lady, Mrs. Bush, was scheduled to be there and so, due to the nature of the events, I had packed some good clothes and jewelry and decided to take everything in one carry-on. A flight attendant helped me place my suitcase in the overhead bin a few rows away from mine
    as the space above my seat was taken.

    After the plane was taxiing on the runway, I was informed that the Continental staff had moved my bag — supposedly to the lower storage area of the plane. In order to find whose bag it was, the Continental staff had gone into my suitcase and from my purse they got my return ticket and my name! Yet they did not have enough sense to at least give me my purse or to see if I needed anything (such as my medication) or wanted
    anything (such as my jewelry) from the bag. Although they knew from my ticket that I had a connecting flight in New Jersey, they still didn’t gate check my bag, which would have allowed me to retrieve it upon exiting the plane at Newark to make my connection to Providence. Instead, they told me that they had checked it all the way through to Providence and handed me a handwritten number. Unsurprisingly, the bag vanished, along with my jewelry.

    This is the most bizarre action I’ve ever known an airline to take with respect to a passenger’s carry-on luggage, and may well be the most egregious case of airline carelessness you have heard.

    Still, it doesn’t stop here. Now Continental is claiming no responsibility and have retained Fulbright and Jaworski to fight me. They asked for receipts of all items over $100 which I told them I did not have, so — per their request and suggestion — I supplied them with credit card statements and personal letters from store managers who have records of my purchases. I thought that Continental had agreed to honor this information, but absolutely nothing came of it.

    They took entirely unnecessary, unapproved, unilateral action over which I had no control and which directly resulted in the loss of my property. There was nothing I could have done to prevent this, and now they choose to pay exorbitant legal fees rather than
    compensate me for the loss they caused.

    Anjum Malik
    512-472-6666- Office
    512-799-5044- Cell
    [email protected]

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