The TSA Makes a Tidy Sum From Loose Change Forgotten at Airports

August 5, 2021

TSA checkpoint where money is left.

When you go through airport security, you have to put any items you’re carrying or in your pockets in a round bucket. After it goes through the x-ray machine, you only have to pick everything up to be on your way.

But it seems that enough people are forgetting that part and leaving their change behind. Not to worry, however, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) keeps track of it and makes sure it gets put to good use.

In the fiscal year 2019, unclaimed money (coins and paper money) left at TSA security checkpoints from airports across the US added up to $926,030.44. In addition to this amount, $18,899.09 of foreign currency was also left at US airports.

The TSA keeps this money in accordance with Section 44945 of title 49 of the United States Code. The unclaimed cash collected at airport security checkpoints is kept in a special fund account so the collection and spending of the money can be easily tracked. The money is then used for aviation security programs.

The TSA doesn’t immediately take the money it finds. Passengers have a short timeframe to attempt to recover their money at the security checkpoint (the TSA doesn’t say how long that would be). Things like wallets and purses are put in a TSA lost and found office for that particular airport, and travelers can contact those offices to get an item back if they can identify it.

The top five airports where the most money was left behind in 2019 were:

  1. John F. Kennedy International Airport — $98,110
  2. San Francisco International Airport — $52,668.70
  3. Miami International Airport — $47,694.03
  4. McCarran International Airport — $44,401.76
  5. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport — $40,218.19

The TSA had a total of $3,618,696 in its unclaimed money fund from previous years in 2019, and at the end of the 2019 fiscal year, it had $1,518,696 left over in the fund after expenditures.

So, what is the takeaway message from all this? Just don’t forget to check those little bins after going through security to make sure you’ve got your money…and your shoes.

Sources: TSA (1), TSA (2), Statista, Washington Post

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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