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Feb 20

Lost luggage: How to Make Money Buying Unclaimed Baggage

Reading Time: 4 mins

Did you know you can make cash from lost luggage? Hundreds of thousands of suitcases get lost every year around the world, but they don’t just disappear into a black hole – in fact, they open up an opportunity for you to make money.

Even the ones that never find their owners again end up somewhere. In fact, that somewhere is usually some form of auction house that sells unclaimed baggage to people like you and me. In America, the Unclaimed Baggage Centre in Alabama receives 800,000 visitors per year and is, incredibly, the state’s biggest tourist attraction.

If you can’t get to Alabama then no fear, the British version of lost luggage auctions is also the place to bag a good bargain and even sell it on at a profit.

Step 1: The auction house

When British Airways has a surplus of unclaimed baggage in storage, it sells the cases at auction (of course, BA – and we hope all airlines – do their absolute best to reunite baggage that has gone astray with its owner before attempting to sell it off.)

All those looking to bag a bargain on the lucky dip of lost luggage need to do is head down to the auction house, and bid on cases that go under the hammer.

If you’re lucky, you could pick up items worth hundreds or thousands of pounds, for very little – most suitcases sell for between £10 and £75. The savvy amongst you could sell items on for more than you paid, making a tidy profit.

Sometimes, auction houses will have opened up the suitcases and separated the goods. Other times, there may be a generic description of what’s inside – “men’s clothes”, for example.

There are plenty of bargains up for grabs, and it can be fun – many people describe it as being like a treasure hunt.

Auction houses often hold luggage auctions

Where to look

London’s lost luggage hotspot is Greasby’s in Tooting, south west London. It’s here that British Airways (one of the world’s biggest baggage losers) sells its lost luggage. Greasby’s also deals with the lost luggage from Heathrow Airport.

Auctions take place every Tuesday, with views the Monday before. The most recent Monday viewing took place between 11am and 4.45pm. The viewings give you a chance to suss out which bags you want to buy.

Other notable auction houses that deal in lost luggage include:


As most of the above auction houses don’t have allotted airport auctions, it’s probably best to check with their website as to the next scheduled date for baggage bounty. You should sign up to their mailing lists, which will let you know when they’re going to happen, or follow individual houses on social media.

Step 2: Evaluate

After viewing the auction collection, go home and think about the prices of likely individual items to see how much of a profit you can make up to a certain bid. It’s hard to tell if cases are sold closed, but the posher the case, the more likely it is to contain items of value.

A good way to get an idea of how much the cases themselves will sell for is to search for similar items that are already listed on eBay. You can also check out the recommended retail price of the cases by looking online.

Once you know how much the case itself is worth, you can set your bidding limit. The only gamble is on how much over the worth of the case you’re willing to bid. If the case contains lots of goodies then it could be worth exceeding your limit. Of course, it could be full of junk.

If you’ve found an auction house that lets you see into the cases before you bid on them, you’ve got a better chance of grabbing a bargain.The same goes if the auction house gives you a description of what’s inside the case, even if it’s brief.

Step 3: Valuable items or cases?

Make money from lost luggage

There are two paths you can take at the auction. The auctioneers are likely to take very valuable items out of the suitcases first and sell them separately. This might include electronics, shoes and jewellery. You can bid on these and then sell them, ideally for more, elsewhere.

Alternatively, you can bid for suitcases and hope there are some good clothes, shoes, books, etc. in them that you could flog. This is a bit of a lottery. Auctioneers only give the vaguest details about what is in each suitcase, so you won’t know exactly what you are buying.

The auctioneers do tell you whether the clothes are clean or not though. It’s up to you whether or not you’re happy dealing with someone else’s nasty knickers. Of course you can also sell the suitcase itself and make some cash on that too.


Step 4: Bag a bargain and sell it on

Once you’ve successfully bid and paid for unclaimed luggage bargains, take them home and begin your online selling to make money. Take some photos, write some good ad copy, and then post it on eBay and wait for the bidding to begin.

How much can I make?

Lots. Valuable items can sell very cheaply at auction. A £500 snowboard recently sold for £75, for example. Suitcases might sell between £5 to £50. Even if the case is just full of clothes you should be able to sell it all for more than the price you paid for it.

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2 years ago

This does sound like fun!

3 years ago

It’s best to participate in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this website!

john wood
john wood
4 years ago

Do not bother, its not what you think, apart from taken all the good stuff out, and searching all the pockets, most to nearly all clothes has been pulled out and then rubbish back in, i bought 14 case from bristols auctions, and one was completely empty, never understood why someone would travel with an empty case??? Its on the verge of deception, maybe in usa it’s better, but do not waste your money here, people should be aware that the suitcases i had , were mixed clothes, male large -medium, ladies and kids clothes, one was fill with a… Read more »

4 years ago
Reply to  john wood

That’s a shame.

I went to the one in South London and did make a profit. In that one they tell you if cases are empty (as you say they take stuff out and put it in again) and also said if a case had women’s clothes or men’s or children’s. One case I got had a lot of Adidas clothing and some Polo Ralph Lauren. Managed to make a profit on those alone.

john wood
john wood
4 years ago
Reply to  Jasmine

I guess the one in south london is better than the auction at bristol, it’s possible that some of the auction houses are getting in on the act

Andrea Duxbury
Andrea Duxbury
6 years ago

Hi are there any lost luggage auctions in the lancashire area that deal with lost luggage from manchester and liverpool airports thanks in advance

7 years ago

Listen to people moaning about there first world problems! Stop moaning about losing luggage that the airline compensates you for. At least you were in the top 10% of the worlds population that are able to afford a ticket for a flight. Get real, there are much bigger problems in this world then airlines selling luggage that they couldn’t reunite with their owners. And FYI it costs more to compensate someone who lost their luggage then the amount they make at these auctions!

Karen Piper
Karen Piper
7 years ago

Myself and my friend are having it hard ATM so we are off to the next auction! And before anyone asks yes we do work, we work full time but need to make an extra bit of cash so we are gonna give it a go!! Can’t wait..

7 years ago

hy!!!know someone the place???thx!!

7 years ago

Are there eny auction houses round the Derbyshire area ?? I want to but some suitcases with contents in them can enyone help please??

Jamie Parker
Jamie Parker
7 years ago

these people complaining that its wrong i’ve bought bags at auction and made profits but in truth after ending my last job it was that or being a robber

The Shoestring Investor
The Shoestring Investor
8 years ago

I had a little look at this and reckon it’s a viable way to make a bit of money in the spare time. It’s all about picking the right items and having the right strategy

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