Airport security is the worst. Sure, it’s totally necessary, but it’s also sort of a hassle.
You have to take everything out of your pockets and put your stuff into those little containers, all while untying your shoes, taking off your belt and carrying your bag.
When you’re rushing to get to your gate, trying to put your shoes back on—you might not even notice that you left the loose change in your pockets behind.
All that loose change really adds up – have you ever wondered just how much gets left behind and what happens to it?
Hold onto your carry-on: the Transportation Security Administration says passengers left behind $867,812 in 2016. Yes, that would be almost a million dollars.
And, believe it or not, the TSA gets to keep it.
Okay, so they’re not throwing huge parties with your pennies and dimes, but they can do pretty much anything they want with it. TSA has had the power since 2005 to keep any unclaimed money and use it “to increase civil aviation security.”
“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,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told The Penny Hoarder. “Unclaimed money, typically consisting of loose coins passengers remove from their pockets, is documented and turned into the TSA financial office.”
The money left behind in 2016 is a pretty big increase from the $765,759 left behind in 2015.
So, why the sudden increase in loose change?
“There is no real way for TSA to know why this happens,” Farbstein told CNBC in an interview. “It makes sense to point to an increase in the number of travelers as one likely reason, but other than that, we have no theories.”
Some airports allow you to just dump all your loose change into a charity before you go through security. In 2015, air travelers who passed through Denver International Airport donated an incredible $87,309 to Denver’s Road Home, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness in the community. That same year, fliers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International contributed more than $10,000 to help support the USO operations for our armed forces at the airport.
What do you think? Would you rather have the TSA or a charity keep your money?