Most people would not consider losing a bit of pocket change at the airport a major drama, but it’s a surprise how often it happens. The TSA has reported that more than $409,000 – mostly coins and dollar bills – was left at US airports in 2010.
Travelers tend to dump loose cash in plastic trays at the metal detectors, along with their wallets and cell phones. In a mad rush to the boarding gate, small items can get left behind. By the time a TSA officer discovers abandoned cash, the owner is usually out of sight. This leaves the authorities with hundreds of thousands of dollars in accumulated change each year. The agency claims to have collected $1.2 million since 2008.
TSA keeps all forfeited cash, using it to pay operational costs. But some feel the money could be put to better use. Representative Jeff Miller (R – FL) has introduced a bill in Congress that would redirect the abandoned cash to the USO, to help support American troops.
“The TSA has been keeping the money from your change purse to pay for their bloated bureaucracy,” said Miller in a statement. “If TSA representatives get to play ‘finders keepers’ with your hard-earned cash, what’s the incentive to try and get the loose change to its rightful owners?”
The TSA maintains that every effort is made to reunite travelers with lost valuables. But it’s often impossible to find the rightful owners of a few dollars in anonymous cash. Be sure to remove loose coins and dollar bills from the plastic trays after going through airport security – you wouldn’t want your hard-earned cash to disappear.