That loose change in your pocket really adds up…for the government: The Transportation Security Administration collected $674,841.06 in quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies left behind by busy travelers at airport security in fiscal 2014.
In 2005, Congress allowed the TSA to put unclaimed money toward its security operations. The agency says it “makes every effort to reunite passengers with items left behind at the checkpoint, however there are instances where loose change or other items are left behind and unclaimed.” That money is turned into the TSA’s financial office.
The amount collected has been climbing each year since 2010. The 2014 total is almost $37,000 more than the agency collected the previous year and nearly $300,000 more than was left behind in 2008. In all, over the past seven years travelers have gifted the TSA $3,557,538.39.
Yes, that’s $3.5 million in spare change the agency has added to its coffers courtesy of harried travelers.
Maybe the yearly total have been climbing because travelers are increasingly engrossed with their smartphones, or maybe it’s a sign that the economy has perked up a bit so they no longer care to scoop up those nickels and dimes. Maybe it’s just that getting through a TSA checkpoint is such a hassle that travelers are willing to donate a few coins to be done with the process several seconds sooner.
Whatever the reason, here are the 20 airports where travelers left behind the most spare change in 2014:
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Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
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