Travelers accidentally leave TSA a sizable donation by forgetting loose change

Summary:TSA collected more than half a million dollars last year when travelers forgot to pick up their loose change.

During the hubbub of passing through a security checkpoint at airports in the United States there is plenty to keep in mind: belt and shoes off, pockets emptied, laptop out of the bag, liquids in a clear bag, step in here, hands over your head, all clear. It's not surprising that the last of your worries when you make it through is a handful of change at the bottom of the X-ray bins. But the change travelers leave behind adds up for the Transportation Security Administration.

During the 2012 fiscal year, TSA collected $531,000 in loose change at airports throughout the U.S., a $100,000-plus increase from 2011.

The question is now what do with the unappropriated funds? Los Angeles Times report:

The TSA has been putting the money into its “aviation security fund” to translate airport signs into different languages, among other overhead costs.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida) put forward a bill recently to set aside the loose change for use by nonprofit groups that run airport facilities where members of the military and their families can rest while traveling.
Change is handled differently than items confiscated by TSA in the security line. By law, they aren't allowed to make money from those items. Instead they are donated to state agencies and auctioned online, at sites like or Ebay, or sold at government-run surplus stores.

With tomorrow being one of the busiest days for air travel in the United States, as millions travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, remember, if you're going through the security checkpoint, to grab your change unless you want to give the TSA a holiday donation.

[hat tip Skift]

Photo: Flickr/David Prasad

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter.

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