A case for bargain hunters
Everyday life at the airport: lonely suitcases, backpacks, travel bags or trolleys make their rounds on abandoned baggage carousels. No one looks for them, no one misses them. Every year, around 200,000 suitcases and bags are lost in global air traffic at Lufthansa alone, and around 8,000 pieces of luggage are neither missed nor collected by their owners. Worldwide, more than 1.3 million pieces of luggage no longer turn up. Cheap goods or brand-name suitcases, designer bags or briefcases - everything is there. Each piece of luggage is a big surprise package with more or less valuable contents. Anything not picked up after three months goes under the hammer. Suitcase auctions are held at regular intervals all over the country and are becoming increasingly popular. Here meet adventurers, bargain hunters and junkers who want to acquire a suitcase full of riches with little money. A real gamble, because the suitcases are auctioned in principle in the closed condition. So you're buying the proverbial pig in a poke - and it's not unusual for the suitcase, trolley or travel bag to be the only thing of value in the auctioned item. But you can get a good suitcase - brand new and unused - sometimes for less money at koffer24.
Lost & Found
Luggage losses on the rise
According to surveys, the loss of luggage immediately after flight delays is one of the most unpleasant side effects of traveling. And although 98 percent of all 2.25 billion pieces of luggage loaded worldwide each year find their way onto the conveyor belts in airport baggage claim and thus into the hands of passengers, the loss of suitcases, trolleys, travel bags and backpacks is a daily occurrence in airports. The "Baggage Report 2008" by Sita, an IT company that operates the fully automated baggage tracing system WorldTracer, speaks of 42.2 million pieces of baggage misdirected worldwide in 2007. Nevertheless: more than 40 million pieces of baggage could be redelivered within 48 hours. However, around 1.3 million pieces of luggage remained missing or could not be returned to their rightful owners. In Europe alone, the number has increased by a good 21 percent in just three years. While in 2004 there were 13.7 pieces of luggage per thousand, in 2007 the number rose to 16.6 per thousand. And although the loss of suitcases and travel bags is not only very annoying for those affected themselves, but also costs airlines and airports a lot of time and money, the numbers are generally expected to continue rising. Sita's "Baggage Report 2008" expects more than 50 million misdirected suitcases, travel bags and backpacks to be lost as early as 2011. Increasing passenger numbers, constant cost pressure, ever shorter turnaround times and stricter security regulations are cited as the cause.
How to protect yourself from lost luggage?
Statistics on misplaced luggage are hard to come by. Hardly any airport or airline publishes these figures. On the one hand, because airlines and airports often disagree about who is actually to blame in the end, and on the other hand, because no one wants to come out as an unreliable baggage handler. However, thanks to Sita, the IT company that operates the fully automated baggage tracing system WorldTracer, we know that about half of all baggage mishandling happens during transfers, i.e. when suitcases are transported from one plane to another. So, to avoid losing a suitcase, we can only recommend booking nonstop flights if possible, or choosing reliable airlines or transfer airports - in Frankfurt Rhine-Main, two to four suitcases are lost per thousand, while at London Heathrow the figure is 60 to 70 per thousand suitcases. According to the AEA - Association of European Airlines - Turkish Airlines, Aerosvit and Air Malta are the airlines that lose the fewest suitcases and travel bags. They misdirect up to seven times fewer pieces of luggage than the statistical laggards. Of course, even with that, you're not really safe from losing a suitcase. But if you mark your suitcase with an address sticker or luggage tag and put your own address inside the suitcase as well, there is at least a real chance of getting your luggage back within the shortest possible time.
Loss of suitcase
Every year, more than 42 million people around the world wait in vain for their luggage at airport conveyor belts. After anxious minutes, it eventually becomes clear: the suitcase, travel bag, trolley or backpack is no longer coming. "What to do?" is then the question. Consumer protection agencies and automobile clubs recommend reporting the loss immediately. While still at the lost-and-found or baggage claim counter at the airport, one should fill out the so-called Property Irregularity Report (PIR). Under the Montreal Convention of June 28, 2004, which governs passenger claims for delay and loss of baggage on international flights, airlines must compensate passengers for damage caused by traveler delay or baggage loss. In case of damage caused by loss, damage or loss of baggage, the customer can claim compensation from the airline. However, the damage must be reported in writing to the airline within seven days in the case of lost or damaged baggage and within 21 days after the arrival of delayed baggage. Of course, only the damage actually incurred, such as the cost of necessary clothing, the extra toothbrush and hygiene items, will be replaced. How much is replaced depends, of course, also on the circumstances of the trip and the actual contents of the suitcase. Important: Keep receipts for the new bikini or business suit, and if the suitcase does arrive, check whether everything is still there and whether the suitcase shows any damage. The airline is liable for the loss, damage or delay of luggage with a maximum of 1,000 so-called special drawing rights per passenger. This value is also specified in the Montreal Convention, is recalculated daily and thus amounts to between 1,100 and 1,200 euros. If the contents of the luggage are more valuable, it is advisable to declare this at check-in, as liability will then be assumed in the actual amount of the loss. However, if you have booked an all-inclusive package with the tour operator, the tour operator and not the airline is responsible. For each day without luggage, you can then claim a reduction of approximately 20 percent of the daily price from the tour operator.
Tips for the suitcase auction
If you want to experience the unique atmosphere of a suitcase auction for yourself and hear the hammer come down, you should allow plenty of time. Because once the auctioneer gets going, the time to make a decision is short. You should be sure that you really want the case you are bidding for and that you have not been infected by the "bidding fever". To ensure that in the end it is the bidder and not the auctioneer who makes the bargain, you should arrive around two hours before the auction starts to have a look at the products, identify any defects and decide what you actually want. It can't hurt to find out in advance the actual market value of the suitcases, travel bags or trolleys. After all, no one knows the contents, not even the auctioneer, and thus the auction of a suitcase becomes a game of chance. Incidentally, contrary to popular belief, suitcases are of course opened by airlines and customs before the auction to remove dangerous, prohibited or perishable items. Cash is also removed and deposited into an account. So real riches are usually not in the luggage, but even the remaining contents can be quite valuable. You should also inform yourself about the auction conditions, which are usually posted at the auction site, and the amount of the commission for the auctioneer, which is still additional. Payment is always made on site and in cash. Before the auction starts, it is important to set your personal maximum bid, because many bidders will quickly drive up the price and in the end you will be gripped by "bidding fever". It is important to keep a cool head, because due to own liability and warranty conditions at auctions, complaints and exchanges are usually not possible.
How does a suitcase auction work?
Anyone who wants to take part in an auction or sale must register and is then usually given a sign with a number that they must hold up to bid. The auctioneer gradually calls out the items to be auctioned, describes them and states the minimum bid. Those who wish to bid now hold up their sign or hand. The bidding should be clearly visible to the auctioneer. If there are no more bids, the auctioneer ends the auction by calling: first, second and third. The highest bidder wins the bid and must pay immediately in cash.