Dear Fan of Unclaimed Baggage Center:
We've been honored to have several media outlets cover the Unclaimed Baggage Center over the last few months, some with important, accurate information; others with misperceptions in their portrayals. In light of these stories, we wanted to take the opportunity to tell you a little more about Unclaimed Baggage Center, our role with airline carriers and the important service Unclaimed Baggage Center offers both its airline partners and the public.
Why do bags go unclaimed?
There are many reasons a bag or carry-on item gets separated from its owner, and eventually becomes lost or unclaimed – not all of which are the responsibility of the airlines. Disruptive weather, lack of address tags on bags, or items and bags simply being left behind in the overhead compartment or seat back (and even sometimes left at the carousel!) are just a few ways personal property becomes unclaimed. The No. 1 reason a bag ends up lost: a missing or inaccurate I.D. on the bag.
How many lost bags are there?
It has been reported that "airlines lose 1 percent of all checked bags." Unfortunately this number is hugely misleading. Here are the real facts:
- Of the hundreds of millions of passenger bags checked every year, roughly 1/2 of 1 percent are delayed and fail to meet up with their owners at the claim carousel.
- Within 24 hours, 80-90 percent of those delayed bags are delivered, and within five days, 95-98 percent of them make their way home.
- Over the course of the next 90+ days, through a comprehensive baggage tracing process conducted by the airlines, over half of the remaining bags are reunited with their owner.
That leaves an astonishingly small fraction of a percent of bags that are ultimately lost — an impressive performance by anyone's standards.
What recourse does a customer have whose bag is considered permanently lost?
Although nothing can make up for the consternation that comes with losing a bag, a customer with permanently lost luggage is entitled to receive monetary compensation for their loss from the airlines, up to $3,300 per ticketed passenger as set by federal law. After claims are paid, leftover unclaimed items become the property of the airlines and then need to be disposed of.
Do airlines make a profit from lost bags?
No, airlines do not profit from unclaimed baggage, PERIOD. Only a small fraction of the total tracing and claims settlement cost is recouped by selling the unmatched bags.
In reality, carriers invest significant manpower and technological resources in the baggage recovery process. Recovery efforts during the first five days following the bag mishandling involve visual searches, as well as computerized tracing within the airline's own network and industry-wide computer systems used by 300+ carriers.
If needed, a more intensive search is conducted for three months or more. This process includes obtaining detailed itemizations from passengers describing their lost bags and contents. A comprehensive inventory of unclaimed bags and contents on hand is also performed. All of this information is fed into sophisticated computer systems that attempt to match passengers who've lost their bags with bags that have lost their passengers. When all attempts have failed, a claim is then paid to the customer.
Not only is this process costly from a financial perspective, but there is the potential of a price to be paid in customer goodwill whenever a passenger's bag is lost. Recognizing each of these costs, carriers work hard to provide the best service possible when handling baggage.
Why do airlines sell the remaining unclaimed bags to Unclaimed Baggage Center?
Airlines are in the business of flying planes and servicing their customers, not disposing of leftover personal items. Unclaimed Baggage Center provides an important service to the airlines by buying those items and repurposing them in the best way possible.
Does Unclaimed Baggage Center only purchase unclaimed airline bags?
Merchandise seen at the Unclaimed Baggage Center includes not only unclaimed luggage from airlines, bus lines and trains but also unclaimed articles left on planes, in airports, and in rental cars, as well as unclaimed air cargo and other cargo property.
What does Unclaimed Baggage Center do with the items it purchases?
Unclaimed Baggage Center purchases all bags and personal property sight unseen, and picks it up by the truckload. After the three-month long journey from baggage carousel to our facility, the unclaimed items arrive in great disarray and are often dirty or damaged, requiring cleaning and repair. With over four decades of experience in handling unclaimed property, we are able to repurpose this merchandise to its ultimate potential for good.
After a complex sorting process, all items designated for the retail floor are prepared for sale. Clothing is sent to our high capacity laundry/dry cleaning facility. Electronic equipment is tested and all personal data is deleted. Each item is priced by experts with years of experience who reference internet and retail pricing information. These products are then offered to the public at 30-80% below retail.
Items not sold in the retail store are either repurposed or discarded. Through relationships with multiple mission organizations locally, nationally and around the globe, Unclaimed Baggage Center is able to reclaim more than half of these remaining items for good.
We have identified key charity partners over the years that are able to responsibly benefit from millions of dollars worth of clothing and hard goods, as well as medical supplies and equipment. Many of the unclaimed eyeglasses we purchase have provided better sight, often for the first time, to hundreds of thousands of needy people. Even damaged wheelchairs are put to good use through an organization that rebuilds them for handicapped children. Through our diverse mission-minded efforts, more and more items are being saved from the discard pile and reclaimed for good.
Unclaimed Baggage Center and the airlines themselves empathize with everyone who has personally experienced losing a bag, and do not wish the frustration and disappointment of this experience upon anyone. However, despite the airlines' best efforts and practices, lost baggage is an unfortunate by-product of air travel. It is our mission at Unclaimed Baggage Center to help to reclaim what was once lost for good by the provision of deeply-discounted products to the public and the repurposing of useful items for those in need.