Lost Luggage: Tips For Not Losing Yours
Lost luggage – a terrible way to start your vacation!
What happens to lost luggage, anyway? The airlines swear only .5% of luggage ever stays lost and that 99.5% of all lost luggage is returned to owners. If true…that is an amazing statistic! If luggage doesn’t find its way home within 90 days it goes to luggage heaven.
Unclaimed Baggage Center: Where Lost Luggage Ends Up
Scottsboro, Alabama is home to the Unclaimed Baggage Center and oh, what an interesting spot to shop it must be! There are 4000 square feet of shopping space and the list of departments is just what you would expect at Dillard’s or Macy’s – women’s dresses, fine jewelry, cameras, formal wear, and men’s suits.
Bargains are to be had and the store gets 7,000 new items EVERY day. EVERY day. Can you believe it? The top two items that show up at this store are laptops and coats. Moms will not be surprised there. Everyone knows the lost and found bin at school is always overflowing with coats!
The Unclaimed Baggage Center began in 1970 selling items on card tables out of a two bedroom house. Now, it covers more than a city block and is visited by over 1 million visitors a year from all over the world. This place is BIG! They have their own onsite dry cleaning facility and they dry clean 50,000 pieces a month!
You would expect to find clothes and electronics here, but they also have some pretty odd stuff show up! They buy the bags, sight unseen, so even they don’t know what they’ll find! The large staff cleans, appraises, and wipes electronics clean before sorting them. The best stuff makes it to the floor for sale – the other 1/2? – part is donated and part is thrown away.
Some of the craziest things they’ve found in lost luggage?
*live rattlesnake *bear skin packed in salt (probably also the smelliest thing they’ve found) * Las Vegas show girl costume
*40.95 carat natural emerald *camera from a space shuttle (It was returned to NASA) *a shrunken head (see the photo here)
Ask for a chance to participate in the baggage experience!
Monday – Saturday at 2:30, one customer gets the chance to open an unprocessed lost luggage bag! They say each bag tells a story!
How NOT to lose your luggage.
1) Use a luggage tag.
This sound obvious, but apparently not everyone does it. Seriously? Buy a luggage tag and USE IT. We love to buy them from destinations, but my all time favorite came from this ETSY company, leathermadenice. Customize with your names! I bought a set for hubby. 🙂
2) Label the INSIDE of the bag.
Luggage tags can be torn off so put another one inside the bag. The easiest way to do this is to tape a business card on the INSIDE of your luggage.
3) Include an itinerary.
Inside the bag include an itinerary. I leave it right on top so that is the first thing you see when you open the bag. I always hope this person will be me, but in the event the luggage is lost, the airline will be able to reunite me and my suitcase.
4) Double check the tag for the correct airport code.
I always ask, as cheerfully as possible, “Is that bag going to ___________?” The airline personnel always glance again and this makes sure your luggage is being sent on the same adventure as you!
5) Put a tag or ribbon or strap on your luggage so it does not look like all the others.
Sometimes luggage makes it to the correct airport but is taken home by the wrong person. Make YOUR luggage easy to spot. Use a sticker or a crazy strap or slap a crazy graffiti paint mark on it – anything to keep it from looking exactly like the other 800 black suitcases that are coming off the conveyor belt.
Why does luggage get lost?
Labeling is the crucial to having misrouted bag find its way back to you.
Remember the commercials with gorilla’s jumping on bags? Now machines are to blame. Sometimes a tag can get caught up during the process and become hard to read or get torn off completely,
Human error – traveler
You forget to pick up your bags. Think it can’t happen? With kids and bags and jet lag…anything is possible. When you realize your mistake contact the airlines to figure out the next step.
Human error – airline employee
Sometimes agents accidentally type in the wrong city code. They are human and mistakes happen. If your bag is properly labeled with your information they’ll be able to track you down and eventually get your luggage to the right place.
You have the info you need to hang on to those bags and have them arrive at the same exciting destination that you do!
Happy travels and may you end up with all your OWN luggage when you arrive!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist