Hey Skint pals,
One of the things I love about writing this blog is that I’m always learning about new ways to make cash. That’s what happened this week when Mr Skint arrived back from a trip to Dublin without his luggage. Somewhere during a forty minute direct outward flight the airline had managed to lose his bag – meaning that Mr Skint spent three days in Dublin making emergency trips to buy socks and the like.
Anyway, the random ways of making money I was talking about? Whilst taking a look at the process for claiming for lost baggage earlier I came across a phenomenon I previously knew nothing about: buying up lost luggage for cash.
Buying up Lost Luggage for Cash
Here’s the deal: loads of people lose bags every year whilst flying and these bags land so far away from their owners that it’s impossible to reunite the two. Who knows why a Dublin-bound bag ends up in St Louis, but that’s the kind of adventurous life our luggage leads.
So, these poor orphaned bags get spend a while circling the globe, then end up sitting in some huge baggage purgatory for a few months before the airport folks get fed up with them and send them off to be sold. And then?
Well, it turns out that there’s a whole industry devoted to buying and selling this lost luggage, with buyers taking a chance on the contents and hoping to strike it lucky. In fact, in America, the Unclaimed Baggage Centre in Alabama is the state’s biggest tourist attraction, with people flocking from all over the USA and beyond to see what they can snap up.
So confident is the Centre of its appeal that it encourages people to plan their whole vacation around a treasure hunting trip to its warehouse. And it seems to work because their visitors’ map has pegs from Australia, Greenland and China. If you’re a US based reader and have been to the centre – what’s it like? Did you snag any bargains?
I can understand the appeal of buying lost luggage – it’s like a gigantic lucky dip, isn’t it? Imagine, just for a moment that you bought Carrie Bradshaw’s suitcase at auction – what a treat for magpie eyes that would be. Or Victoria Beckham’s (like her luggage would ever get lost), snagging yourself a caseful of designer dresses for £50.
For UK readers, we don’t have a one-stop shop like the Alabama Centre - here luggage tends to go to auction houses close to major airports . All of British Airways’ unclaimed baggage eventually makes its way to Greasby’s auction house in London, which holds sales every Tuesday morning. You won’t get a chance to root around in the bag before bidding though, so you’re taking a gamble, based only on the appearance of the bag itself. Luton’s lost bags go to Hertfordshire Auctions, whilst the sad orphaned cases from Gatwick, (imagine how many thousands a year), end up at this Bristol auction house. If you sign up for the auction houses newsletters you’ll get to know when the baggage auctions are taking place – they’re not every week.
The cost of snapping up a bag at auction? Depends who you’re up against really. I’m a massive fan of auctions and much of chez Skint has been furnished from the auction room – when buying luggage the usual auction room tips apply. Each of the above auctions – in fact nearly all auction rooms – have viewings before the sale, so do try to get along to the viewing if you can. That way you can have a look at the cases and make your bidding decisions based on that. If the suitcase itself is expensive, the greater the likelihood of top-notch gear inside too.
And, after you’ve decided on a bid and snagged your suitcase at auction? It’s time for the big reveal . . . The case needn’t be packed full of gold ingots for you to make money on it.
The easiest way to do so is to sell off the contents separately on eBay and the like. I’ve written before about how to make money on eBay by buying job lots then selling the goods separately. Even if the suitcase just contains the usual stuff you’ll almost certainly make pretty good money from listing the best items on eBay with a good description and write-up. Remember to list the suitcase itself as well.
Of course, a better result really is for the luggage to be reunited with its rightful owner – as we’re hoping will happen with Mr Skint’s. But, if luggage has been lost for six months and the owner has made every effort to track it down without any luck, then I’d rather the case was sold off than incinerated.
What do you think? Have you ever bought lost luggage? Would you?
Or have you ever lost your own – and did it show up in the end?
Oh, and if you have any tips for Mr Skint on how to go tracking down his lost case, please do share. Is it best to go through our own travel insurance or to pursue the airline via their compensation scheme?
Hope you have a good week, Skint pals. xxx
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Photo credit: thisispretty