Unclaimed Luggage Auctions – A Beginner’s Guide to Lost Bag Sales

The word is out: the next hot place to look for hidden loot and left behind treasure will be unclaimed luggage auctions. Creators of Storage Wars and Storage Wars: Texas, A&E TV is expanding out into new auctioning territory with an upcoming show titled: Luggage Wars.

Just as storage auctions have been running for years out of public view, the hunting grounds of the privileged few “in the know”, luggage auctions are not a new phenomenon either.

But if A&E’s successful track record can suggest any trends, once they start pushing out episodes revolving around this unique way to make some extra cash, chances are the public is going to respond in droves.

Why Bother With Lost Luggage Auctions?

There are a number of exciting dynamics that are particular to the world of baggage auctions, which will be sure to entice anyone on the lookout for a good score and a chance at quick profits.

For one thing, the nature of the items that people bring with them in their personal luggage is more precious: while you might find a bunch of undesirable junk stuffed in the back of a storage locker, you’re less likely to find junk in personal carry-on bags. You’re much more likely to find goods like computers, laptops, jewelry, and expensive electronics.

As this video explains, however, there are already major forces, and established businesses, that have been operating in this lost luggage space for years. The Unclaimed Luggage Center in Scottsdale, Arizona is the country’s largest outlet for misplaced airline baggage:

At 20-80% discount on most items in this massive city-block wide warehouse, it’s no wonder that so many folks are willing to make the trip in search of valuable commodities. Everything from jewelry to clothing to electronics and collectible memorabilia finds its way onto the shelves at the Unclaimed Luggage Center.

By why aren’t the original owners knocking down the doors, steaming mad to reclaim their misplaced belongings? Everything that eventually makes it to the center has been entirely abandoned and unclaimed for so long that airlines had to do something with them other than just keep trying to find the rightful owners.

How Lost Luggage Selling Works

Here’s the full rundown:

  1. Bags get misplaced by airlines (or left by travelers) somewhere.
  2. Airlines’ luggage reclaim departments work for 1-3 months to try to track down the goods’ rightful owners and reunite them with their luggage.
  3. Failing all attempts to contact or mail back the personal items, the airline will pay any claim attached to the lost luggage.
  4. The Unclaimed Luggage Center has long standing contracts with major airline carriers to purchase these bags, sight unseen. They take the risk on all bags, and lose out on some, because they can afford to play the numbers game and stock their shelves full.
  5. The teams at the center go to work carefully unpacking, sorting, taking inventory of, pricing and cleaning everything in the luggage they receive.
  6. The goods are placed on their respective shelves and anyone is free to walk through and browse to their hearts’ content.

Now, should you find yourself in Arizona, you might try your hand at buying up the most discounted items in the warehouse and re-list them on eBay for a slightly higher price.


Profiting From Unclaimed Luggage Auctions

Have you ever wondered what happens to all the baggage that gets lost each year by airlines and their passengers? The number of suitcases, duffel bags, purses and hard-case luggage separated from their owners each year is staggering, with an estimated 10,000 bags being lost each year in Miami International airport alone.

What makes unclaimed luggage auctions particularly ripe for bargain hunters trying to turn a profit? To answer this, think about the kinds of things people bring with them in their personal carry-on and checked luggage when they’re traveling by plane. As opposed to larger storage lockers, personal luggage has a much greater incidence of valuable items.

You can be sure that lost personal luggage for sale is going to contain plenty of laptops, smart phones, electronic devices, e-readers, expensive cosmetics, perfume, cologne, jewelry and sometimes even cash. Due to the compact and condensed nature of luggage, you can expect bigger bang for your auction buying buck.

making money on the baggage claimLet’s get down to the nitty gritty of making money on unclaimed luggage auctions, how they happen and how you can maximize your profits from buying up lost baggage. Despite what you may think if you’ve ever had your bags misplaced by an airline, domestic carriers have an impressive find and return rate for personal items that go missing during travel.

In fact, it’s estimated that 99.5% of all bags are eventually returned to their rightful owner by airlines that originally misplaced them. This leaves a statistically small, but still potentially lucrative mini goldmine of duffel bags, suitcases and backpacks that have been permanently divorced from their owners.

After an airline has exhausted all attempts to contact the owner of a lost bag, and a minimum interval of time has passed (usually about 3 to 4 months), the lost luggage is corralled together and sold off the Unclaimed Luggage Center in Alabama. This special organization has been lost luggage in the States since the 1970’s.

Now under contract with airlines and transportation lines, the Unclaimed Baggage Center receives, processes, sorts, prices and sells all the goods they find inside the luggage coming through their doors. Then, they arrange the goods they find by category and display them in their large store, which allows people to peruse the items at their leisure. You can check out their site here.

In addition to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, there are a few wholesalers and liquidators that buy up luggage at auctions and auction them off through websites. These sites can be a great way to get your hands on a great deal of discounted merchandise for re-sale.

Just as with storage units, there’s never any guarantee that you’re going to find something amazing in every package you get, but you always do have a chance of striking it rich.

Another option is to go the government route with federal auction conglomerate sites like deaauctions.com. You can certainly find amazing deals on unclaimed luggage in addition to electronics, vehicles and more than have been seized by the government.

The fact that auction shows and networks that specialize in them are getting in on luggage auctions is the best indication that this niche has the potential to be very lucrative. The makers of Storage Wars are launching a separate program just covering luggage auctions and their buyers. Whether or not this program will enjoy the same commercial success as the tried and true Storage Wars is yet to be seen.