Entries in Luggage (6)


'Baggage Battles': Airports Auction Lost, Misplaced and Forgotten Luggage

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Ever wonder what happened to that piece of lost luggage that was never seen again? In some instances, the airport where it was left could have auctioned it off for profit.

One of the busiest hubs in the United States is Miami International Airport, where M-I-A isn't just the airport's call letters, but could easily stand for luggage that is "missing in action." The airport is home to an enormous graveyard of discarded duffel bags and carry-ons that have been cast aside. There are also forgotten bikes, laptops, surfboards, cameras, cellphones, even paintings and crutches -- all of which have gone unclaimed or don't carry identification.

"We take the time to make sure that we reconnect the item with the person if that's possible," said Miami International spokesman Marc Henderson. "But, you know, the airport is not a storage shelter. So after 60 days, it's like, OK, it's time to have an auction."

Last year, across the United States, nearly 2 million suitcases were reported to be either lost, damaged or delayed. About 10,000 bags go missing at Miami International alone every year.

To avoid losing your luggage, Henderson said it is as simple as keeping your bag with you at all times.

"I walk the terminal all the time. Traditionally on average one or two times a day, I will see a bag that is not attended," he said. "Somebody has walked away, have gone into a shop, they've gone into an eating establishment. They've left their bag there."

That's a "no-no," Henderson said, because of the heightened security at airports today. He also suggested not packing anything of significant value, or if you must, carry those items with you on the plane.

Miami International hosts a lost luggage auction twice a year to a standing room-only crowd who pays a $3 admission fee to get in on the bidding action. Most of the patrons are just regular folks who are looking to turn a quick profit.

Billy Leroy, who owns an eclectic props and antique store in New York City, was one of the bidders in Miami and is also one of the stars of the Travel Channel's new reality TV show, Baggage Battles, which airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The show follows three teams of savvy auction specialists who travel the world to place bets in high-stakes luggage auctions.

Dozens of these auctions happen at airports all over the country, with thousands of bags and millions of dollars at stake. Bidders can't open the unclaimed bags and have to rely on their instincts to place bets on what could be inside -- which could be anything from expensive jewelry or just laundry.

Only after bidders win the bags do they get to open them and find out if they have hit the jackpot.

"You've got to shoot from the hip and just vibe it," Leroy said of betting on the bags. "I mean, it sounds crazy but that's how I do it, that's how I make my business is by my gut feeling."

Faced with a mountain of luggage, bidders are given about an hour to pick up the bags, handle them and get a feel for what they might be carrying. Leroy also said he employs a "smell test," and said he won't bid on a bag that smells bad.

"Heavy is good, but carry-on is good too," Leroy said. "Expensive carry-on is good, and heavy, expensive carry-on is good, but heavy expensive carry-on could have dirty underwear in it."

But Leroy said that formula can sometimes backfire because an expensive-looking bag could be a fake.

Miami International has made as much as $100,000 in a single auction and it's not just off lost luggage bags. They also auction off singular items in bulk, where bidders can take bets on bags of jewelry or electronics that have been left at TSA checkpoints, or entire cargo loads of discarded items.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Show Me the Money! Cash In on Items Forgotten, Confiscated at Airports

Medioimages/Photodisc(WASHINGTON) -- It's a scene played out at airports across the country each day, the piece of luggage circling around and around the carousel, forgotten or left behind by a harried traveler.

And, with airport security at an all-time high, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials gather mounds and mounds of confiscated items each year, from lotions and perfumes to knives, bats and more.

So what happens to the contents of that suitcase left behind? Just who profits from the more than seven million items left behind at airports across the country each year?

The answer, it turns out, could be you!

ABC’s Good Morning America discovered the millions of dollars worth of merchandise left behind at airports each year is available to the public, at a huge discount.

Items left behind at airports are delivered to local surplus stores, where everyday Americans can buy them for a huge discount, often as much as 70 percent. Some states also post the deals online, meaning you don't even have to leave your home to rake in the savings.

A GMA tour of a surplus store in Texas, for example, found designer sunglasses that regularly sell for $300 on sale for $50. And a set a Tiffany's earrings that would retail for around $4,500 were on sale for around $750.

The deal-making is a win-win situation for states too: the money made in Pennsylvania surplus stores and online goes right back to the state.

"Since 2004, when we began participating in the program, we have brought over $700,000 back into the state," Troy Thompson of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, told ABC News.

How can you cash in? Visit these sites to see where you can buy TSA-confiscated items in your state:

Budget Travel

Eyeflare Travel Info

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Faulty Scales Can Mean Higher Luggage Costs at Nation's Airports

Raygun/Cultura/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Airlines have come under fire recently for their many fees, including the ones they charge passengers for overweight luggage.  But are those fees legitimate?

Reporters from ABC's Good Morning America and ABC News affiliate stations across the country went along with inspectors from the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Weights and Measures Division recently, checking the accuracy of airport luggage scales.

The NIST inspectors, along with ABC News' reporters, found inaccuracies that could mean a big difference for travelers.

At the Mesa Gateway airport in Phoenix, Arizona, the inspector, accompanied by a reporter with local ABC affiliate KNXV-TV, tested five scales.  Four of the scales did not pass inspection, and two had problems so severe they were closed until they could be fixed.  One of the problem scales did not zero out, while the other fluctuated wildly.

The airlines charge stiff penalties for overweight luggage.  For each bag weighing just one ounce over 50 pounds, Delta Airlines, for example, charges $90, and American and United Airlines each charge $100.  For bags that weigh more than 70 pounds, the fees shoot up even higher.

Of the 144 scales inspected at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the past year, six were out of compliance.  Bags weighed on those faulty scales seemed heavier than they actually were -- a discrepancy that costs travelers even more.

Scales fail inspection if they are even one-half of an ounce off the correct reading.

On a later, surprise inspection at LAX, NIST inspectors found no faulty scales, but only about 15 were tested that day.

GMA itself researched inspection data from 10 other airports.  Of the 2,615 scales GMA inspected, 5 percent were off.

The biggest offenders were John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, both in New York.  At JFK, 8 percent of the scales were wrong and, at LaGuardia, 7 percent were incorrect.

In some of the nation's busiest airports, scales were surprisingly accurate.  In Atlanta, only two of 264 scales were faulty.  At O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, just three scales were off.  And Dallas had only seven bad scales at its high traffic airport.

Before you start thinking that the airlines are out to get you, it's actually the airports that bear responsibility for servicing and monitoring the scales.  And, according to one of the inspectors, broken scales often make bags seem lighter, favoring passengers.

But there is something that passengers can do if they suspect a scale is off.

If a scale reads over or under the zero mark even before a bag is placed on it, ask the ticket agent to hit the reset button.  Moving your bags around also often changes the weight on a scale.

Another option is to ask that your bags be weighed on another scale.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Delta Air Lines Ups Baggage Limit After Soldiers Charged with Fees

PRNewsFoto/Delta Air Lines(ATLANTA) -- Faced with some pretty bad press after it was revealed that U.S. soldiers returning from Afghanistan got hit with hefty checked baggage fees, Delta Air Lines issued an apology Wednesday, saying it was changing its luggage policy for servicemen and women.

The incident began when two soldiers aboard the Delta flight posted a video on YouTube, explaining that their military orders made clear that they were authorized to carry four bags.  Altogether the unit, made up of 34 soldiers, paid over $2,800 in baggage fees, all out of their own pockets.

Delta said that it was common policy to charge for that extra bag since the soldiers were travelling in coach.  At the time the complaint was posted by the two soliders, service members were allowed to check three bags, and unless they flew first or business class, they were charged $200 for each additional piece of luggage.

The airlines has since upped its free checked baggage allotment for military personnel, allowing those travelling in first and business class to carry up to five bags for free and those in coach to carry up to four.

Moreover, the military has said it will reimburse the soldiers for the fees.

Other airlines have since followed suit, revising their luggage policies as well.

American Airlines told ABC News Radio, “We at American Airlines are currently in the process of going to five free checked bags for our military personnel.  Full implementation of that policy should be completed in the next few days."

United Airlines and Continental Airlines also told ABC News that they increased their free checked baggage allotment to four, matching Delta.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Troops Charged for Extra Bags; Delta Apologizes for Miscommunication

Delta Air Lines(BALTIMORE) -- The last thing you need after fighting in Afghanistan is to fight with an airline over baggage fees.

U.S. soldiers on a flight from Baltimore to Atlanta had to do just that with Delta Air Lines on Tuesday after the carrier charged them $2,800 in luggage fees.

While on board, some of the troops expressed their anger by recording a video, which was later posted online on YouTube.  The soldiers said they were told they could check in up to four bags on the flight without having to pay any fees.

Delta issued an apology after the incident but said it was all a big miscommunication.  Under the company's rules, active duty U.S. military personnel traveling on orders may check up to four bags in first class and three bags in coach for free.

The soldiers, however, did not meet this criteria since they were apparently traveling with four bags in coach.

The airline said it is "currently looking further into the situation, and will be reaching out to each of [the soldiers] personally to address their concerns and work to correct any issues they have faced."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Airways Unloads Increased Fees on Heavy Luggage

Photo Courtesy - USAir [dot] com(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- Here's a little reminder for anyone planning to fly US Airways in the near future: travel light.

The carrier announced a series of price hikes for passengers who insist on taking everything with them but the kitchen sink.

These new prices, which apply to flights purchased now for travel on or after March 1, mean bags weighing between 50 and 70 pounds will cost $90, up from $50.  Previously, people hauling bags weighing more than 70 pounds were charged $100.  But, effective immediately, the fee is now $175.

US Airways said that checked bags fees will remain at $25 and $35 for the first and second bags respectively.  However, the price of all bags checked after that jumps from $100 to $125 each.

So far, no other airlines has announced similar price hikes for overweight and oversized luggage sizes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio