Loose Change Collected by TSA at Airports Last Year Amounts to Impressive Sum

This inadvertent form of crowdfunding could have bought a home in New York City.

May 19, 2016, 11:51 AM
PHOTO: TSA agents shown working in Terminal 5/International Departures at O'Hare International Airport August 6, 2002 in Chicago, Illinois.
Travelers pass through a security checkpoint manned with new Transportation Security Agency employees in Terminal 5/International Departures at O'Hare International Airport August 6, 2002 in Chicago, Illinois.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

— -- The Transportation Security Administration has been taking a lot of heat lately from travelers who feel like they're giving a bit too much of their time waiting in interminable lines at TSA checkpoints. But it turns out we're also getting nickel and dimed by the agency -- quite literally.

In an inadvertent form of crowdfunding, the TSA collected $765,759.15 in fiscal year 2015 in unclaimed money left behind at airport security checkpoints, according to an agency report.

That's enough to buy a house in New York City, where the median home price is $616,100, according to real estate website Zillow, and still have a lot of change left over to scatter in coin baskets at TSA checkpoints.

Most of the cash collected in fiscal year 2015 comes from loose change that people emptied out of their pockets before going through the metal detectors, according to the report, which was sent to Congress in March but is gaining renewed attention as lawmakers, travelers and airlines are pressuring the TSA to up its game ahead of the summer traveling season -- expected to be the busiest in history.

"Unclaimed money is money that passengers inadvertently leave behind at airport screening checkpoints. In most cases, this consists of coins that passengers remove from their pockets so that metal detectors do not sound," the report states.

The biggest donors to the TSA last year were passengers at Los Angeles International Airport, who left behind $55,086.39 in change. Folks at Miami International Airport left $50,955.58 and at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport left behind $43,715.81. Approximately $9,265.25 of the total funds left behind and collected by the TSA was foreign currency.

The TSA keeps the change, which will be used the fund civil aviation security, according to the report. The funds collected during fiscal year 2015 will be used this year to expand and support the TSA "Pre-Check" program.

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