Have you ever wondered where the orphans of the baggage carousel go? Sadly, there's no island of misfit luggage. And they're not just tossed into an epic bonfire in the airport parking lot where the workers hang out after their shifts, have beers and fall in love. As it turns out, after an extensive three-month tracing process the unclaimed baggage property is reclaimed for good and sent to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. The company then repurposes and resells unclaimed domestic baggage to interested buyers.
That's right. It's lost treasure that you can buy. The Unclaimed Baggage Center isn't just a tourist attraction and museum. It's a thrift store too. The center deep cleans clothing and tests electronics before the products hit the shelves.
Even better? You can now peruse and shop the Unclaimed Baggage Center online. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the center launched its new e-commerce site in June. The website even has a "weird and wonderful finds" section for those who love to shop for quirky and rare items.
The Unclaimed Baggage Center also doubles as the largest dry cleaning facility in Alabama. And it's a great deal. A lot of times you're getting name brands and brand new retail value at thrift store prices. They get 7,000 new items every day.
The Unclaimed Baggage Center isn't just a big warehouse filled with the luggage of the dead and those who got so drunk on the plane that they forgot they checked a bag. You can road trip there! It's one of the biggest (literally) tourist attractions in the state of Alabama. Why shouldn't it be one of Alabama's top tourist attractions? It's one of the most unique places to visit in the entire United States.
Just about every type of thing you can imagine has gone through the Unclaimed Baggage Center. Musical instruments, fine jewelry, electronics, sporting goods, women's lingerie and a bevy of other interesting things and unique finds end up in there. It's 40,000 square feet of lost treasure.
According to Roadside America, the Unclaimed Baggage Center is visited by a million visitors a year.
The department store-sized thrift store got its start in 1970 when a clever part-time insurance salesman looking to make a few extra bucks came up with the idea of selling luggage left behind at a bus station in Washington, D.C. He eventually expanded his new business to airlines and moved it back to his hometown of Scottsboro.
But don't worry! Airlines aren't just waiting to prey on your luggage. Losing your luggage is incredibly rare according to the UBC, and usually when you do lose something the airline will compensate you for it.
So don't feel bad buying other people's stuff at the Unclaimed Baggage Center. Get on down there (or shop online!) and give those lost items a second life.
This article was originally published in January of 2019. It was updated on July 14, 2020.