When Congressman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., noticed someone left behind change at an airport security checkpoint, he started wondering about all those forgotten pennies. Turns out all that change really adds up: the Transportation Security Administration reports that about $409,000 was left behind in the year 2010, the most recent year documented.
Miller would like to see that money benefit the United Service Organizations (USO) and has introduced a bill that would do just that.
The USO is a private, non-profit organization supporting the military that, in part, operates welcome centers for returning service men and women at airports around the country. In 2005, Congress gave TSA the authority to use the money on security operations, which it does.
"Travelers' lost change should be put to good use, and there is no better organization to use this money wisely than the United Service Organizations. Each airport center provides a place for service men and women to enjoy a welcoming atmosphere, connect with family, and utilize the services provided by the USO," Miller said in an email to ABCNews.com.
TSA does not comment on pending legislation, but a spokesperson did tell ABCNews.com it makes every effort to reunite passengers with items left behind at checkpoints.
"TSA keeps travelers' change accidentally left at checkpoints as an appropriations backfill for agency activities. There is no incentive for TSA to try to return the forgotten change to its rightful owner," Miller said. Miller is the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
The USO says that while it did not initiate the idea to have the money left behind earmarked for its use, the money would "absolutely" make a difference. "Any dollar amount we get from the American people goes towards the troops and families who need us most. Through our programs and services, donations from the American people help the USO support our deployed troops, military families, families of the fallen, and USO Warrior and Family Care," said Frank Thorp, USO's senior vice president of marketing and communications.
Did you leave money behind at airport security? You're not alone. Below, the 10 airports that collected the most money in 2010:
|John F. Kennedy International Airport||$46,918.06|
|Los Angeles International Airport||$19,110.83|
|Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport||$16,523.83|
|San Francisco International Airport||$15,908.02|
|Miami International Airport||$15,844.83|
|O'Hare International Airport||$15,231.40|
|Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport||$14,048.71|
|McCarran International Airport||$14,027.19|
|Washington Dulles International Airport||$13,945.18|