Dear Cheri, Tammy, and Bety:
I was at the airport the other day and noticed the TSA agent putting loose change left by passengers in a container at their security desk. What happens to that money?
Tom Carings, Sun Lakes, AZ
I found this fun article to share with you and our readers, which can answer your question.
The Transportation Security Administration will look to expand its TSA pre-check program with the $674,841.06 in spare change air travelers left behind at checkpoints across the U.S. in 2014.
According to Alison Griswold of Slate.com, recently released figures from the TSA show a $37,000 increase in the amount of loose change collected by the agency this past year as compared to 2013.
In fact, that figure has risen each year since 2010, when the TSA counted just over $400,000.
Unclaimed change, defined by the TSA as “money passengers inadvertently leave behind at airport screening checkpoints,” has typically been invested in the agency’s operations ever since Congress gave it the green light to do so back in 2005.
“TSA makes every effort to reunite passengers with items left at the checkpoint; however, there are instances where loose change or other items are left behind and unclaimed,” said agency press secretary Ross Feinstein via email. “Unclaimed money, typically consisting of loose coins passengers remove from their pockets, is documented and turned into the TSA financial office.
Unsurprisingly, given its status as a major port of entry into the U.S., New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport produced the most unclaimed change last year, with $42,550 being left behind.
Los Angeles International Airport was a close second ($41,506), while San Francisco International Airport, Miami International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport rounded out the top five.
If the current trend continues, the TSA will rack up more than $700,000 in loose change in 2015.
Even in the age of debit cards and direct deposit, it turns out that loose change can be used to buy more than just a gumball or more time on a parking meter. Try saving all your change in a jar at home – it will really add up after a year!
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