People left $500,000 in coins at airports last year

Travelers forgot to pick up the money at security checkpoints. What should the government do with it all?

By InvestorPlace Dec 6, 2013 4:55PM

© Les Cunliffe/istock/360/Getty Images
US CoinsBy Christopher Freeburn

Boarding an airplane can be an incredible hassle, and it's costing Americans a surprising amount of money in pocket change.

The Transportation Security Administration says that last year, people moving through airport security checkpoints -- in which they are required to remove the contents of their pockets -- continued on with their journeys $531,395.22 lighter.

The agency, which collects money inadvertently left in the white and gray bins at security screening points, is required by Congress to devote any monies collected from forgotten change to improving civil aviation security. But, so far, the TSA has spent just a fraction of last year’s haul, The Washington Post notes.

Money collected at local airports and regional hubs is ultimately sent to the TSA’s headquarters and reported to Congress. Between 2008 and 2010, the agency collected roughly $400,000 per year in neglected change, making 2012 a banner year -- at travelers' expense.

Last year, Miami International Airport generated the most left-behind change, a whopping $39,613. Las Vegas wasn't far behind, with travelers leaving almost $27,000 in change in its security bins. By contrast, travelers left behind just $1.70 at Guam’s Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport in 2012.

The TSA has managed to spend just $6,500 of the more than half-million dollars it collected last year. At least one U.S. Congressman wants the agency to donate unspent funds to charities that aid military personnel when they travel. However, that could mean additional accounting costs for the agency, which would have to comply with federal financial reporting rules for money donated to non-profits.

But maybe they should put more of that money back into training: In October, a 9-year-old boy managed to evade TSA personnel and board a flight to Las Vegas at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport even though he didn't have a ticket and wasn't accompanied by an adult.

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Tags: Airlines
Dec 6, 2013 5:55PM
Since its the government, it will probable cost the taxpayers a few million to figure out what to do with half a million dollars.
Dec 6, 2013 5:29PM

Seem's to me If there were doing there job????

The TSA workers should have made sure everyone was given there money back.....


Dec 6, 2013 5:42PM
Donate the money to our returning wounded veterans that are conveniently  shelved and
forgotten.  They lose limbs then have to fight just to get the care they need.  It makes me 
feel ashamed that we treat them that way.  I'm a Vet...I know.
Dec 6, 2013 6:06PM
How bout we just pay down the national debt!!!!
Dec 6, 2013 5:18PM
I understand that there is a bill in Congress to send the loose change to non-profit organizations which help our men and women in the military.
Dec 6, 2013 5:54PM
Well, if they're not going to give it to me, give it to our soldiers.
Dec 6, 2013 6:56PM
Dec 6, 2013 7:32PM
500k reported which means the shake down TSA kept 1 mil for themselves.
Dec 6, 2013 7:02PM
Let's just send the money to O'bama he'll need it to pay for his insurance under Obamacare.
Dec 6, 2013 6:15PM
Dec 6, 2013 7:53PM
Send it to me. I can double it in 5 years, pay you back, or if you let me, double THAT in five more years, then I could pay you back TWICE what you loaned me, AND give someone else the opportunity to do what I had just done. Come on. What do you say TSA? I promise you will make your money back from me. I am a great investment! I trust you to look after my best interests, so why shouldn't you trust me to look after your best interests, as well as myself and others like me? We ARE all a big 'team' here in America, right? All of us looking after one another to fight terrorism? We just need a helping hand, not a handout. Contact me anytime. I'll be at work, digging shovel tests day in and day out, but I welcome a conversation about this... Thanks. :) I hope to hear from you soon.
Dec 6, 2013 10:35PM
Thanks, I was wondering where I left that $500K.  I'll be in to pick it up in a bit.
Dec 7, 2013 12:35AM
Obamas need that money so they can go to Hawaii for Christmas !!!!!!!$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Dec 6, 2013 5:33PM
I hope they give it to the needy (IN THIS COUNTRY) as NCTAXMAN says below
Dec 16, 2013 10:06PM

f the needy, get a job.

give the money to wounded warriors.

Dec 6, 2013 7:44PM
Hand warmers. With all the things I say on these vines and if I fly again. There will probably be a rectal examination  in my future.
Dec 6, 2013 6:17PM
send it to me. I could sure use and extra half a million right now.

This is one of those typical Ox riding a moron things....


Nobody gives the guberment money for free so they have no idea how to pilage the pile of pennies they possess...


Looks like somebody is gonna need a p*ss pot full of those little penny wrappers......



Dec 6, 2013 8:12PM

Jesus Christ, split it evenly amongst local food banks in the area; If left over 30 days...

Once a month paperwork the report to whomever signed by the receivers at the FBs and get rid of it.

Put up warning signs to that effect...Maybe more money will be left ??

There, that was easy...

Just fixed it for them...

Our Government and the TSA, really aren't too bright. !! 

Dec 6, 2013 7:48PM
It'll be used to make rules about how much tail you can pack in a seat and then over charge you for your luggage.
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