What Happens to Unclaimed or Lost Airport Luggage?

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Magically, although millions of people fly through the air each day, 99.5% of passenger luggage ends up where it is supposed to be: on the baggage claim carousel, then in your hand on your way to your final destination. But that small fraction of missing bags still affects many, leaving some with only the clothes on their backs and no toiletries.

Have you ever wondered where missing baggage goes on commercial flights? It’s likely that you or someone you know has fallen victim to lost luggage. Sometimes the bags are recovered, but sometimes they aren’t.

Most lost or unclaimed baggage is returned to its owners within 48 hours (which is why you should always fill out a passenger information tag), and almost all luggage is returned within a week. The rest, a fraction of a fraction, ends up at the Unclaimed Baggage Center, a consignment shop like no other and a haven for impulse buyers and the fashionably adventurous.

The center, located in Scottsboro, Alabama, has been around since 1970, and has become a popular tourist attraction. It has hosted people from all 50 states as well as 40 foreign countries worldwide.

Some memorable finds include a Versace gown, straight off the runway, an ancient Egyptian burial mask, 50 vacuum-packed frogs, and a fighter jet missile guidance system, packaged with a plaque reading “Handle with extreme caution. I am worth my weight in gold.” That was returned to the Air Force.

Commercial flights certainly have their downfall, but it’s interesting that this center has turned a profit from one of these flights’ most frustrating inconveniences.

Private aircraft charter services do not pose the same problems as commercial flights. Charter plane services can fly in and out of 5,000 public airports nationwide, and provide many solutions to the common problems of commercial airplanes.

On a private jet, expect empty leg flights, where you can sit comfortably and stretch out. You will be able to get work done in peace and quiet if need be, and access areas where you can make work or personal calls in privacy.

But perhaps most importantly of all, private aircraft charter services will not lose your luggage. Your luggage will remain safely on the aircraft with you until you arrive to your destination, and will never make it to the Unclaimed Baggage Center.