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What Actually Happens to Confiscated Items at the Airport

Approximately 900 kilograms of items are packed mistakenly by travelers per month in their carry-on luggage. And it’s a mystery for a simple passenger when it comes to what happens after their item was confiscated. Hardly anyone knows what to do if something like this happens.

We at Bright Side did an investigation into where these confiscated items go and whether it’s possible to get them back.

Giving up the goods is not the only option.

Each time you leave a confiscated item at the airport you say goodbye to it. If it’s a bottle of water, no big deal, but if it’s a bottle of expensive perfume, it can be dramatic. In this case, you should know that you have other options.

First, some airports have a Confiscated Items Return Service. You can ask an airport worker where you can find it. Once you have deposited your item, you have a certain amount of days to get it back. For example, in Manchester, you have 30 days. Also, you can choose to have your item delivered to your address if you’re not planning to return back within a certain timeframe.

Second, nobody is keeping you from returning to the airline’s ticketing counter and checking in your luggage that contains these items. Of course, that is if you’re not in a rush and have enough time. And you should remember that many airlines only allow one bag to be checked-in for free.

You can also give it to your friend or leave it in your car. That’s why it’s always better to come to the airport with time to spare.

Where your items go if you leave them.

Some people might guess that officers take your prohibited items. This is a misconception. Some of the items, like for example, a mixed box of knives or a designer purse, go online and are sold in bulk. In the auctions, they can be sold for half the price, so it’s a good platform for bargain hunters.

Lots of stuff goes to charity. Volunteers say that up to $50,000 can be raised. Stuff like food gets destroyed to protect a country’s agricultural interests. Beverages are tossed into garbage receptacles.

Some airports make an art exposition of prohibited items.

There is always a place for art. For example, in 2019 the staff at the Lithuanian airport in Vilnius came up with a sharp idea and found an alternative way to remind travelers that safety comes first. They made a Christmas tree out of confiscated knives and scissors.

The tree was 5 ft tall. It took over 2 weeks to create: “So if you don’t want your personal, yet prohibited, belongings to land on next year’s Christmas tree, better check out the baggage requirements before you pack for your next flight.”

What items have you had to leave at the airport? Have you ever tried to get them back?

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