From the previous article you read about what happens to lost baggage in Canada. But the fate of the baggage depends on which carrier “misplaced” the bag and where it happened… Bags abandoned at Heathrow Airport are auctioned off at Greasby’s in southern London. In the United States, thousands of unclaimed suitcases are unpacked each year and their contents sold at the 40,000-square-foot Unclaimed Baggage Centre in Scottsboro, Alabama.
This Alabama facility is one of the most exciting destinations for especially savvy shoppers: What began as a few pieces of luggage sold from card tables 24 years ago is now a sprawling glass and granite complex that takes up more than a city block. It has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state because you have to actually arrive in person to shop there. The centre has exclusive contracts with airlines to buy the unclaimed baggage – the suitcases are then unpacked and contents sorted. About 1/3 is thrown out, another 1/3 is donated to charities and the best items are sold in the store. About 60% of the merchandise is clothing with the balance of the store dedicated to cameras, electronics, sporting goods, jewelry, designer optical, books and of course, luggage.
Besides the “usual” change of underwear and toiletries that can be found in pretty much every bag – the staff at the facility have made quite a few different discoveries over the years… When a small plastic bag was found with a mysterious stone, it took expert help to identify the rock as a huge 40.95-carat natural emerald! Another employee discovered a 5.8 carat diamond ring while inspecting a very plain suitcase. Besides the occasional valuables, some rather bizarre items such as an authentic replica of a 19th century original full suite of armor, a suitcase full of Egyptian artifacts dating back to 1500 B.C., a special camera designed for NASA’s Space Shuttle and a navigation system for an F16 fighter jet valued at a quarter of a million dollars. The latter two of course were handed over to the US government agencies. The scariest thing that has come out of a bag was a live rattlesnake!
Here you can watch a news story about this immensely popular bargain hunters’ Mecca!