SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) — Between December 26 and December 30, more than 12,000 U.S. flights were cancelled. That’s according to flight tracking website, Flight Aware.
In addition to 12,825 cancelled flights and more than 34,000 delays, there were also reports of baggage chaos.
Airlines are working to reunite lost luggage with its owners in a timely fashion.
However, according to Unclaimed Baggage, 0.03% of the time airlines are unable to reunite the items with the owners.
That’s where the one-of-a-kind Unclaimed Baggage store in Scottsboro comes in.
“We sell unclaimed baggage,” said Jennifer Kritner, Vice President of Retail & Company Culture for the store. “We have contracts with all major airlines, and so we get them sight unseen.”
Kritner explained that there is a 90-day window between when a piece of luggage is lost, and when it can be bought and then sold by Unclaimed Baggage.
“Southwest and other airlines will go to work and for 90 days they’re going to try to get the suitcases back to their original owners and if that’s not successful, then they’ll make their way to Unclaimed Baggage,” Kritner said.
“You never know what you’re going to find, every bag has a story,” she said of when the store receives the baggage. “Was it a man’s bag, a woman’s bag, where were they going to or coming from, was it a vacation or a business trip?”
When the bags are received they are sorted and the clothing items are laundered. Then the items are separated from each other and put on the sales floor.
The store sells everything from clothes, shoes, jewelry, books, and electronics. Kritner said sometimes they even wind up with high end goods.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, we got in a Birkin Bag, which is one of the most elite handbags in the world,” she said.
The items that do end up at Unclaimed Baggage are often the product of a very sad ending to a person’s trip. Kritner said even though they don’t receive bags until at least 90 days after they are lost, the store does get its fair share of phone calls from hopeful travelers.
“We get those calls, and our heart breaks for those people because they are so desperate to find their item,” she said.
She said the likelihood of a person finding their lost items at Unclaimed Baggage isn’t zero, but, “oftentimes, it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”
Her best advice to travelers is to take pictures of the items in your suitcase as well as your suitcase itself. She recommends “tucking business cards” or contact information in various pockets and between different items, so your bag doesn’t end up in Scottsboro.
However, someone’s loss is another person’s find.
The store draws more than a million visitors each year and has become a bit of a tourist destination for the small town in Jackson County.
Monday morning, Brieanna Jackson drove about three hours from Atlanta just to shop at Unclaimed Baggage.
Jackson told News 19 her message to the original owners of her items: “I’m sorry if I got good stuff, but it’s going to a good home, I promise!”
Unclaimed Baggage also does some good for the community. Kritner said only about one-third of the items it receives actually end up in the store. She said they work to recycle some items and also donate a large chunk of stuff through the Reclaimed For Good foundation.
If you are hoping to get in on the misfortune of holiday travelers, set a calendar reminder for April 1. By them, items lost forever over the Christmas holiday could be on store shelves in Scottsboro.