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 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.




What is Luggage Wars? The Next Big Auction TV Show

It’s already been established that America likes auction TV shows. Storage Wars, Pawn Stars, Auction Hunters and others have been enjoying excellent ratings and multiple renewals since the craze first began. Perhaps it’s the troubled economy that has people looking for alternate means of making extra money on the side. Maybe it’s the pure excitement of bidding on a storage unit or a container without knowing for sure what’s inside.

Now, the creators of the hit Auction Hunters are entering a new niche in the world of auction and modern day treasure hunts: unclaimed luggage. Have you ever wondered what happens to bags, suitcases and duffles that get lost at the airport? What happens after the airlines retain them but no one comes looking for them even after months and years fly by? That’s when someone’s lost luggage becomes unclaimed, setting it up to be someone else’s new treasure.

Luggage Wars is slated to be the next big reality phenomenon, and the casting calls are already going out. It’s the standard fare that makes for good reality TV watching: big personalities. And as we all know, the bigger they are, the harder they clash.

Some of the principles of Luggage Wars will wind up being familiar to fans of the other series. Once a piece of luggage goes unspoken for long enough, it becomes up for grabs, and savvy buyers will show up to special airport luggage auctions in search of valuables. Everyone wants to find Indiana Jones’s suitcase, stuffed full of strange idols and priceless gems from faraway lands. Or maybe the odd jeweler’s case that was left behind in its previous owner’s haste to escape some shady dealings.

Who knows when you’ll get lucky and find a money-changer’s ironclad carrying case or a scientist’s satchel stuffed full of futuristic secrets. The sky is the limit when it comes to unclaimed luggage and there’s no telling what these buyers may come across, but it’s almost certain there will be a good mix of desirable bags and suitcases along with some really trashy ones, too. I’m sure we’ll be seeing at least one contestant end up with nothing but a stranger’s dirty underwear in the pilot or the next few episodes after that.

But how will luggage wars differentiate itself from the other major auction-buying-reality shows that are already dug-in and recognized? I suspect that we’ll see some new dynamics brought about by the fact that the buyers will be dealing in personal carry-on items and attache cases. Whereas a giant 20 foot by 20 foot storage locker can house a lot of junk and unwanted garbage in addition to some goodies, I think we’ll be seeing a higher incidence of big ticket items in smaller packages.

Consider what the average jet-setter carries in their personal luggage these days. It’s very common for people to bring their laptops, tablet pc’s, adapters, MP3 or MP4 players and cell phones all in one case. I would imagine that these high-tech carrying cases will make up a bulk of the best buys on the show, with the stars paying special attention to business-like in-cabin luggage.

There’s already some indication that, just like in some of the more whacky episodes of Storage Wars, we’ll be seeing Luggage Wars contestants breaking out some extreme means of determining a given case’s value, such as night-vision tools, metal detectors and more. What remains to be seen is how much of this new show will be original and unique, and how much of it will be a transplant of the same formula that has already proven itself to be effective: several moody eccentrics with some buying experience vying for unknown containers in heated bidding wars.