A penny here and a quarter there might not seem like much, but when it’s all tallied all up, passengers abandon a hefty chunk of change when they empty their pockets at security checkpoints across the US – the yearly totals are staggering. 

This week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it had collected nearly $1 million in unclaimed funds – both loose change and paper money, domestic currency and foreign – over the course of the 2019 fiscal year, ending in September. Of that amount, $907,131.35 was in US dollars, and $18,899.09 was in foreign currency, for a grand total of $926,030.44 – about $34,000 less than the year prior. 

Unsurprisingly, the biggest numbers come from some of the country’s busiest airports, chief among them New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where travelers abandoned $98,110 alone. Next on the list is San Francisco International with $52,668.70, followed by Miami International with $47,694.03, Las Vegas’s McCarran International with $44,401.76, and Dallas/Fort Worth International with $40,218.19. 

Coins in a grey TSA bin
The funds found include coins and paper money, foreign and domestic currency alike © TSA

Conversely, smaller airports reported less unclaimed cash. Only $184.42 was left behind at Dallas’s Love Field, the lowest amount on record, followed by Casper, Wyoming’s Natrona County International with $234.94; rounding out the bottom three was Charleston, West Virginia’s Yeager Airport, where agents found just $342.41 in their security bins.

The TSA is required by law to file a brief detailing how much unclaimed money is collected each year and how those funds are spent. Per the Fiscal Year 2020 Report to Congress, the agency had nearly $3,619,000 available as of September 30, 2019, including the cash collected in 2019. Of that amount, $2,100,000 was earmarked for training and development, $996,475.51 was expended during the year, and $32,150 was spent on bookmarks distributed at checkpoints nationwide to advertise the TSA PreCheck program, with $1,518,696 remaining for other uses. To see the full report, visit tsa.gov

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