Every Suitcase Has a Story: My Trip to Unclaimed Baggage Center

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Special thanks to Unclaimed Baggage for providing gift cards to facilitate my adventures searching through the treasures of lost luggage! Don’t miss the SWEET Unclaimed Baggage Center coupon I have for my readers! 

When you travel by air, do you ever wonder about where your fellow passengers are going? If you are chatty, like me, you may hear some of the story of your seatmate, but you will likely not hear any others. Are they coming or going? Business or pleasure? Was their trip planned for months on end or did they book their flights last night?

Unclaimed Baggage

Every passenger has a story, and those stories can often be gleaned by simply seeing what they packed in their suitcases. The vast majority of travelers reach their destinations with their suitcases, but every once in a while, a bag does get mishandled, and eventually, lost from its owner. And it is those bags that head to Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama to be sorted through, so that is contents can find new owners, either through being sold or being donated.

unclaimed baggage

Unclaimed Baggage Center has the look and feel of a large retail store, with everything cleaned, categorized and tagged for sale. In addition to having more clothes than you can imagine, they also have a whole slew of other fun things!


unclaimed baggage lost luggage tablets


lost luggage unclaimed baggage jewelry

(All jewelry has been appraised and is sold at roughly half its appraised value. There are some GREAT deals in this case!) 

Lost Treasures

Unclaimed Baggage even discovers some real treasures from time to time. Below you will see some antique religious artifacts, various currencies, an animal from a hunting expedition, some unique bicycles, a gorgeous model ship, and a ruby belt buckle worth over $10,000!

unclaimed baggage lost luggage found treasures

During my visit, I was treated to many cool stories, and I soon realized how a trip to Unclaimed Baggage is so much more than a trip to a big store with some good bargains. The store itself tells a story, and so do the people who work there!

As part of my visit, I was treated with some gift cards and sent on my merry way. Since I was without the kids, I was able to shop in peace! But that doesn’t mean I took my time. I had just 2 hours to shop. That might sound like plenty of time until you realize just how big the store is. I was shopping like a mad woman, and honestly, the thrill of it was so much fun. Here’s my buggy about 1 hour into my trip. This is when I realized that I might have a problem…

unclaimed baggage lost luggage shopping trip

I made it to the check out line with mere minutes to spare, and then headed straight over to the part of the store where they were hosting something very fun that they do every day: the unpacking of the bag! This is something the center has been doing for a few months now, after hearing feedback from customers who wanted to know what really happens when a piece of luggage reaches their facility. A member of the audience was selected to unpack a bag that had only been viewed by one person at the facility (just to make sure that nothing dangerous or overly embarrassing was inside). We got to help make decisions about what would be cleaned, what would be sold immediately, what would be donated, and what would be trashed. It was so exciting to see this come out of the bag. Treasure hunt, indeed!

unpacking of the bag at unclaimed baggage

Finding the laptop was fun, but what was even more fun was piecing together the story of this bag. Based on the contents, we determined that this was a young adult female who made a trip to Russia. The luggage was lost on the return trip, as she seemed to have her souvenirs (such as nesting dolls) in the bag with her. This was a very cool experience, and one I highly recommend you make the time to see while at the store!


lunch at unclaimed baggage

I was so happy to see that Unclaimed Baggage had its own cafe on site, AND that it served Starbucks coffee. I had a delicious sandwich for lunch, a big, fat rice krispie treat, and of course, some iced coffee. This got me refueled and ready for more shopping!

My Personal Treasures

Just before leaving the store, I took one more glance at the jewelry section. And something very special caught my eye. I found a little sterling silver bunny that would look so perfect on short sterling silver chain to give to Darah for Christmas (I found the chain in the case, too!). Darah has had the nickname “bunny” since the day she was born. It wasn’t something I had planned on calling her; it just happened the moment I laid eyes on her! As I was checking out, the person helping me said, “Oh my. This is a John Hardy piece. This is VERY special!” I had no idea who John Hardy was, but evidently he is a famous jewelry designer, and his pieces are highly sought after. All I know is that he made a sweet little bunny charm, and I simply had to have it. This was my favorite find of the day!

john hardy bunny rabbit found at unclaimed baggage

My other favorite find was a brand new teal winter coat. It still had its tags! It looked fabulous, if I do say so, myself. The red pea coat I wear most often in winter has been with me since 2000, no joke, so I was definitely due for something new!

Additionally, I found several pieces of clothing for other members of my family, as well as a few Christmas gifts. It was an awesome experience, and since it is only an hour from where I live, you’d better believe that I’ll be back. The merchandise is different every day, so there are always new treasures to find!

Have you ever visited Unclaimed Baggage Center? What did you find? Is this the type of place you’d love to get to visit???

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  1. Kaleigh J says

    Came to your site looking for freezer organization but saw unclaimed baggage and immediately had to know which location you visited!! I actually live in Scottsboro and have for a few years now. My husband and I made our first trip the day we went to look at the house we now live in and have made many trips since!! We love that place!! Especially for electronics!! And as far as people saying it’s stolen property…..if the airlines reimburse the people for their lost luggage is it really stolen??

    • Anonymous says

      This is just awful! These are people’s possessions! I don’t think the airlines are doing enough if a ruby belt buckle worth $10K ends up here! And electronics???!!! These, at some point, were absolutely traceable! This is people profiting from others misfortune! Where are the ethics in that!

    • Anonymous says

      The airlines dont always repay the people and they only give you so much money when they do. So yes its theft because how is it lost if the airlines have it. They should have a large center for owner to go to and recover their property. I’m sure if i had some of these items recovered i would look for days for mine. It’s not hard if the owner describes the suitcase, the articles in the suitcase and then allowed to look for it. This is stealing i dont care what antibodies says. If you have lost your property like me before, I’m sure you agree.

      • Anonymous says

        I totally agree. My husband and I lost our bag on our way home from our honeymoon. We have NO PICTURES of our trip. I also lost prescription meds as well as therapy equipment (recovering from a broken shoulder) that health insurance would not cover. Very disappointing. I always wondered where our stuff went. The airlines has a max price they will give per suitcase which is hardly anything at all. Trust me, they are making out when they turn around and sell it. It’s easier.

  2. says

    I would feel like I was buying stolen property.. And I guess it really is stolen via by default of the airline carrier. I go back to the time the airline lost one of our bags. Our name and address were on the tag and inside the bag. Thankfully nothing of value just sundries and beach towels. Could never wear or buy or use anything without thinking of the poor soul who really owned it…

    • Lindsay says

      I agree! I mean… I’m fairly certain that airlines go through a lot to get baggage back to owners, especially when the owner is also trying hard to get it back. So I would like to assume that these are situations where for some reason they cannot contact the owner or something like that, but for THAT much stuff to be there (and valuable stuff too) it seems more like they aren’t trying as hard as they should be.

      And as much as I’d like to feel good about the fact that this is allowing for the items to find new owners rather than being thrown in the trash, I still feel so sad every time she mentions a good find! Like the nesting dolls that poor girl collected to bring back to her loved ones and never got to, and of course all the more expensive things like electronics and jewelry. Like I can’t help but think that someone is still out there trying to get it and more could be done to help them…

    • says

      Great question! My understanding is that the airlines are legally required to make every effort to get lost luggage (checked bags) back to the rightful owners for 90 days. After that point in time they have to pay a settlement claim to the bag owners to make up for their mishandling and losing of their luggage. So a lost bag, for example, wouldn’t have the owner’s name and address anywhere on the bag. The airline would have exhausted their efforts to figure out who the bag belongs to.

      UBC has some answers to other similar questions about the process (such as if the airlines make a profit by selling the bags) here: http://unclaimedbaggage.com/p/about/faq

      • Anonymous says

        I the bag has no name or address and the airline can’t figure out who the bag belongs to, how do they know who to send a settlement to? If you can send them a settlement, I would think you should be able to send them the bag.

        • Anonymous says

          I agree. I got kinda choked up looking at these pictures. These are people’s things…their personal belonging. The rings really struck my heart. I can’t believe someone is actually allowed to profit from this. …just really sad to me.

        • says

          I totally understand the sentiment, but the settlements aren’t allotted based on the luggage, itself. The individuals whose bags are lost file a claim, and then they are compensated for the mistake of the airline. The jewelry makes me sad, too, but I think when you fly with airlines you agree with their terms, and part of those terms are that there is a possibility that they could lose your bags, and you are agreeing to that risk. UBC exists because airlines aren’t interested in dealing with figuring out what to do with the luggage that they cannot connect back to the passengers. On my tour we were told that airlines, in general, have a 99% rate of getting lost luggage back to the correct owners. So what UBC has in stores represents the 1% of lost luggage that the airlines couldn’t figure out who it belonged to.

    • says

      I so agree with you! I fear this is a default business… That shouldn’t be in business… Making money off stolen items is plane immoral. The unclaimed things should be donated period.

  3. Shanna says

    I live in Louisiana, but I’m going to have to come up with a reason to visit Scottsboro lol. Seriously I NEED to go there!! :) Thanks for sharing this place!!

  4. pandamama says

    What other special sales do they hold and when? How do these sales work? Do they hold all the skis until then or just the majority?

  5. Susan Johnson says

    Love UBC. My husband and I found out about UBC about 3 years ago. I made my first birthday trip then. We now go about every 3 months (we live in the Atlanta, GA area). Best finds: brand new Camelback – $10; Joseph A Bank silk men’s sports jacket – $12 (original price $100-125); Pashimas – $2-6; Ford Mustang Collector Clock – $20. We have bought a lot of our camping gear and my husbands slacks, cargo pants, outdoor and sports gear there. Fabulous prices. Cups Cafe: love it!

  6. renee says

    My sister loves that place! She says it’s like a really fabulous thrift store :) She always brings my daughter books, which she says are in abundance there.

  7. says

    Girl – I was there with you and I found a Michael Kors purse for less than $100. From what I found out online, it should have retailed for about $328. My purse (because I snatched it up!) looks like it had never been used.

  8. Dorothy Teel says

    Wow that sounds like a fun place to visit have never been there lost luggage once, but they found it and returned it thankfully. Neat that they let you go through a piece of luggage and get involved in the store and its purpose

  9. says

    I bought snow skis, boots, and ski clothes at Unclaimed Baggage back in 1981. I don’t know if they still do it but they used to have a Snow Ski Sale in October every year. I didn’t know how to ski back then but my friends encouraged me and I learned at Cloudmont Ski Resort in Mentone, AL. Eventually I became a Downhill Racer and skied with the Chattanooga Ski Club and The Crescent Ski Council. I don’t ski now but Unclaimed Baggage was a great place to get used gear and not have to buy new stuff and figure out that you couldn’t do it.


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