Unclaimed Baggage, a private company, buys unclaimed lost luggage from major airlines. Then, it’s resold to new owners. Is this a second chance at its finest?

A lost suitcase can be a lot of different things: Massively inconvenient, mildly irritating, heartbreaking. From losing souvenirs to wedding dresses to prosthetics and ashes of loved ones, a lot of folks are experiencing the loss right now.

Due to the increases in delayed and canceled flights this year, more and more people are arriving at their destinations without their checked luggage. Travelers have seen a whopping 67 percent increase in lost and mishandled luggage since last year. In July, Delta flew a luggage-only plane filled with 1,000 lost bags from the UK to its hub in Detroit. NBC has gone as far as to dub summer 2022 as the “Summer of Lost Luggage.”  

And, for some reason, airlines aren’t adjusting how they handle customers’ possessions. From their perspective, the rules around lost luggage are pretty simple: For 90 days, airlines have to try to reunite the bag with its owner. (Unfortunately, some airlines are not making good on their attempts to reunite baggage with its owners. Case in point: Sky Handling being caught red-handed throwing traveler’s luggage into the dumpster at an Irish airport.) If the bag remains unclaimed for more than that—something that happens with less than one percent of lost bags—they’re put up for sale. 

That’s the end of the story for some lost luggage, as it doesn’t sell and is instead shipped to the landfill. But not all of it.