Good news for those travellers who have suffered the misfortune of luggage going missing in transit: we may have found where your bag went!

The bad news? It's now up for auction on this US website.

Half finished books, souvenirs and pre-worn clothes are among the contents for sale, which at some point were parted from their owner on an airport carousel.

Most airports are only required to hold lost luggage for up to 90 days, after which items are lost for good. If that happens at a US airport most likely it ends up for sale, with the Unclaimed Baggage company.

The company has recently revamped their website. Photo / Supplied
The company has recently revamped their website. Photo / Supplied

There's a perverse pleasure in looking through strangers' luggage, left behind on the carousel. Particularly knowing that the lost property you are considering buying has an owner somewhere, still wondering where the hell their suitcase is.

The Unclaimed Baggage company website is essentially an online thrift shop, with a heavy dose of schadenfreude.

While the website is new, the company behind it is not.

The Unclaimed Baggage company was founded in 1970 and does a roaring trade in clothing, electronics and jewellery - all unintentionally second hand.

The company has its morally dubious beginnings in northeast Alabama, fifty years ago, when businessman Doyle Owens began buying lost property from the Trailways Bus Line - an interstate coach company.

Treasure trove: The Unclaimed Baggage Center thift store is now one of Scottsboro's top attractions. Photo / Supplied
Treasure trove: The Unclaimed Baggage Center thift store is now one of Scottsboro's top attractions. Photo / Supplied

Now owned by a third generation of Owens, the family company has expanded its drag net from bus terminals to theatres and airport lost luggage across America.

Their warehouse in Scottsboro Alabama has even become something of a tourist attraction, with 2000 thrifty visitors leaving reviews on Tripadvisor. (Yes, apparently it's the no1 "thing to do" in Scottsboro.)

"We are humbled, grateful and give God glory for this milestone," said the company having recently celebrated decades in business by launching the website


The new website highlights finds such as an "Unclaimed Bag of the week" the contents of which tells a story. Currently this is a carry-on with various items of dog clothing and a chew toy. Other highlighted items have included a tragically abandoned engagement ring.

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The more colourful items up for auction include a bust of Shakespeare, a child's lederhosen and a 14-karat diamond tennis bracelet for sale at $20,000.

However, the Unclaimed Baggage company aren't the only people profiting from travellers' misfortune. Only about 30 percent of all lost property ends up for sale on the website or store. The rest go to their "reclaimed for good" programme that repurposes and rehomes the items with charities around the world.

Sadly, the for sale for profit arm of the company doesn't ship internationally.

In New Zealand there is a different system in place where items are held on to for a maximum of 90 days before being disposed of. At Auckland Airport this means that any unclaimed items which don't contain personal or sensitive information are passed on to police and customs charity auctions.