Between shoes, luggage, and electronic devices, travelers have a lot to keep track of when moving through airport security lines. It makes sense, then, that many of them can't be bothered to collect their loose coins from the bottom of their bins, but all that small change adds up quickly. As Vox reports, the Transportation Security Administration cashed in nearly $1 million last year in loose change left behind by flyers.
Each year, the TSA releases a report to Congress detailing how much money it makes from unclaimed cash. The most recent numbers reveal that forgotten change has grown into a significant source of revenue for the administration. Travelers left $531,000 at security checkpoints in 2012, and in 2018, they had forgotten $960,105. That includes the pocket change discarded in plastic bins as well as larger bills collected from lost wallets.
Forgotten money doesn't end up in the pockets of whichever TSA agents were working the security line that day. All loose change must be gathered, rolled, and submitted to the TSA's financial office. Per the agency's policy, every cent that's stored, transported, and cashed must be accounted for.
For the past 14 years, the TSA has been able to use these bonus funds to improve services at its discretion. Translated checkpoint signs, TSA pre-check, and enhancements made to the agency's Adjudication Center have all been partially paid for with unclaimed change.
Lost cash may provide a nice financial boost for the security agency, but adding the money to its spending budget isn't its first priority. The TSA encourages travelers to submit claims for any goods they think they left at security, even money.