Share on Facebook

The 15 Most Unusual Things We Found Shopping Unclaimed Baggage

Ever wonder what happens to all the lost luggage that doesn't make it back home? It lands at this retail outlet, where someone's loss can you be your thrifty gain.

Baggage on conveyor beltencrier/Getty Images

The land of lost bags

Every year, thousands of suitcases go missing after they’ve been checked at the airport. Most are eventually returned to their owners, but for the less than 1 percent that don’t (usually because they don’t have any identification), their final destination in the United States is Unclaimed Baggage, the nation’s only retailer of lost luggage. Every day, the company, which is based in Scottsboro, Alabama, receives 7,000 new items from bags that have often traveled around the globe. (Airlines have 90 days to reunite bags with owners, and after that, they go to UB, which does not continue the search process.) UB’s team of experts sort, clean, price, and then sell items to consumers at a discount. Items that don’t meet the standards to be resold are donated to charities or recycled.

In the past, the only way to see what was on offer was to visit the warehouse-size store in person. However, during the pandemic, UB has gone online. New items are added every day. Some of them are mundane (T-shirts, magnets, flip-flops, eReaders), and others will make you scratch your head, like giant gemstones and daggers. We’ve rounded up some of the most unusual items on the site that caught our eye—and can be all yours. Just note that while they’re all up for grabs as of press time, they might gone by the time you read this.

Don’t want your bag to end up in Unclaimed Baggage? Then you’ll probably want to fly with one of these 11 airlines that are less likely to lose or damage your bags. And for the love of travel, please put your name on your suitcase—in more than one spot!

diamond braceletvia

11-carat diamond tennis bracelet

It’s not so much that a fabulous 11-carat diamond bracelet worth more than $27,000 is unusual—it’s that anyone would place one in checked luggage and then not spend the rest of time tracking it down if it was lost. That’s what seems to have happened with this item, however. The cost at UB, in case you’re wondering, is still a princely $13,500. For jewelry worth this much, Unclaimed Baggage uses appraisers, and you’ll receive paperwork to prove its value.

An important travel tip before we move on: Don’t ever, under any circumstances, put valuable items in checked luggage. That goes equally for expensive jewelry, pricey electronics, and irreplaceable sentimental items. If it’s important to you for any reason, don’t let it out of your sight. Check out these 9 tips for packing carry-on luggage for a hassle-free trip.

pool stickvia

Very fancy pool cue

Somewhere, there’s a pool shark racking them up without his/her lucky pool cue. We know this traveler was probably pretty serious about the game, or at least liked to look good while playing since the McDermott Carom Lizard Leather Embossed Pool Cue retails for a whopping $1,180. The Unclaimed Baggage price: $590.99.


Christian Louboutin high-top sneakers

If you’re obsessed with the red soles of this swanky designer’s teetering high heels, you’re in luck! You can now have them on your high-top sneakers, too—if you’re a lucky size 9 that is. These iridescent Rantus Orlando high-tops have definitely seen some mileage and show “signs of wear,” though they’re still $399.99, making us wonder if those red soles are made out of ruby dust. While we’re on the subject, find out what your favorite shoes say about your personality.


Swanky vintage dress

Highlighted as part of a recent “Suitcase of the Week,” this dress was found alongside other swanky clothing from what we’re guessing (based on the contents) may have been a chic wedding on the French Riviera. There was a black-tie dress (sold), Louis Vuitton snakeskin pumps (sold), designer earrings (sold), a Missoni bathing suit (sold), a $2,950 leather bag (still available), plus this swingy vintage dress from JLS Scherrer, a designer who worked with Christian Dior and created dresses for European royalty. We want to get to know this gal—and give her back her stuff! Price for the vintage dress: $126.

If you like everything about those items except the price tags, you’ll love these 15 simple fashion upgrades that will make you look expensive.

fur coatvia

Ostrich feather jacket

Did you know they made jackets out of ostrich feathers? Nope, us either. This one is tucked away in the “Unusual Finds” category, but the modern-cut, fuzzy black jacket actually looks like a great wardrobe piece, and at $66, it’s way cheaper than a similar BCBG Max Azaria we found on sale for $209.


Original artwork

Check out the “Art” section of the UB site and you’ll find everything from cheap posters to one-of-a-kind original art, including this oil painting that stood out on one of our recent scrolling sessions: “Jaike” Funkadelic Chancay by Javier Nunez, a 20″ x 24″ canvas for $329. We were able to find Nunez on a gallery site, where a bigger 36″ x 24″ canvas was selling for $450, so this art is legit…but maybe the price is a little high. That said, the right wall decor is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to upgrade your home.

bike partsvia

Racing bike frame (in pieces)

In this age of pandemic bike shortages, it’s tough to find any option on two wheels, let alone a precision racing bike. The only issue with this TROPIX Paris Ultegra bike frame is that it’s in multiple pieces. Oh, and it’s still $850. (It retails for $1,700.) And you’ll have to buy the wheels separately. We found these $700 CL 40 Rapide Wheels on UB, as well, so at least you can get everything in one fell swoop. If you’re in the market for a new ride, here’s how to choose the best bike for you.


Conductor’s batons

Well, hello, Maestro! You can conduct a chorus of cats, recorded symphonies, or if you’re already in the music biz, actual performers with a set of three PaGu conductor’s batons. We’re not actually sure why you need three, but these have fancy wood handles to suit all your moods. The price? $116.


Massive citrine gemstone

Someone put a 132-carat citrine gem, glittering in a mounted glass display, in their checked luggage. And then lost it. Now it can be yours for just $496. Find out the secrets your jeweler won’t tell you.


Middle Eastern dagger

Unfortunately, a dagger is an item you can never bring on an airplane, which explains why this metal Arabian-style knife would have been tucked into someone’s suitcase. This display-worthy item has a decorative sheath and an animal-head decoration, and it’s one of the more affordable UB finds at just under $16. Aside from something like this, these are 13 things that will get your luggage flagged by the TSA.

light therapyvia

Light therapy

Apparently, this red-light portable JOOVV GO light therapy case helps muscle recovery, aids sleep, and increases sexual libido. We’re not sure how it does all those things, but you can try it out for yourself for $150 (almost half of the usual $295 retail price tag).

red wigvia

Red costume wig

This red wig is long, wavy, and definitely eye-catching. It’s also new (and still has its tags), which is nice when you’re wearing something on your head. Snag it for just $10.59 and try it out on your next Zoom call.

kangaroo chairvia

Kangaroo hammock chair

A giant, orange kangaroo hammock that hangs from the ceiling and holds a small child in its pouch-like seat. What, you don’t carry that in your suitcase? This one looks like fun, and the package is new, so hopefully, the installation tools are included, too. The price for this unique ride: $29.99.

Traveling sometime soon? Here are 12 unexpected things you need to pack for your vacation during a pandemic. (And no, this kangaroo hammock isn’t on the list.)

signal towervia

Signal tower

Here’s one you probably haven’t tried at home before (but if you have, hats off to you): An LED signal tower with a flash buzzer. This is most likely intended for industrial use, to signal when a line goes down or someone on a warehouse floor needs help, but if you own it, you can use it to indicate that the garage is full or to make your kids come inside. (We’re just spitballing here, but why not?) For just $15.59, the green, red, and white light can be yours to try out.

jacket coatvia

Cadillac leather jacket

Pelle Pelle leather jackets were all the rage in the ’90s, and this black leather Cadillac logo version from the label’s designer, Mark Buchanan, is still pretty styling. And for $65.99, it’s a relative steal for the UB site. Curious if you have anything valuable tucked away somewhere? If you have any of these hidden treasures in your garage, the answer is yes!

Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is a freelance travel writer and editor with more than 27 years experience who reports on travel trends around the planet for Reader's Digest. Winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for excellence in travel writing, she started her career as an editor at both Frommer’s and Fodor’s travel guides, then went on to write about travel for many publications including Family Traveller, Parents, and Working Mother magazines. More recently she has been a contributing editor at Saveur, Islands, and Caribbean Travel and Life and a senior contributor at Travelocity. A New Jersey native, ice cream addict, and a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, Klurman lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, son, and rescue dog.