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U.S. airlines lose 2 million suitcases a year. Where do they end up?

U.S. airlines lose 2 million suitcases a year. Where do they end up?

The holidays are expected to be extremely busy, according to the Transportation Security Administration. A fortunate few will be among the millions of people returning home without their bags as they head back from their Thanksgiving vacations.

Where do all those misplaced bags wind up, next? Journalist Melanie Peeples set out to investigate. All suitcases that are misplaced by US airlines and are not picked up by their owners ultimately arrive at Unclaimed Baggage.

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In Scottsboro, Alabama, it occupies an entire city block and is a massive store. Every day, 7,000 new things are added to the inventory. And all of it is offered at a steep discount.

It is set up like a department store, with bookshelves filled with books and clothing and shoes around because, let’s face it, who hasn’t misplaced a book on a plane? But the jackpot is just up these stairs.

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The mezzanine is the most crowded part of the store. Thus, this is where our electronics division is located. However, things up here are even more fascinating. It functions as follows: Up to three months are spent by the airline attempting to return a misplaced suitcase or pole-vaulting shipping container to its owner. However, the airline gives up after three months and compensates the owner back up to $3,800.

Statistically speaking, 99.5% of checked luggage on airlines does not disappear. All of it just adds up to a lot—the 0.5% that does.

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