Over $900,000 Was Left At TSA Checkpoints In 2019

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has revealed that over $900,000 was left behind at checkpoints during the financial year 2019. A similar amount was left the year before too. One airport, New York JFK, saw almost $100,000 go unclaimed. The TSA uses this money for training and improvement of civil aviation security.

Ever forgotten your loose change in the tray? It all adds up! Photo: US Department of Homeland Security.

Are you missing a million dollars?

Passengers passing through security checkpoints have a lot to think about. Shoes on or off, belts and watches in the tray, laptops out of the bag and what about those liquids? It can be a stressful time, particularly if they’re running late for their flight.

Unsurprisingly this means that sometimes things get forgotten. From passports to purses, TSA agents often find items have been forgotten in the rush, and sometimes that includes cold, hard cash too.

According to the latest TSA report, across major US airports last year a total of $926,030.44 was left behind. This is actually a drop from the previous year when $960,105.49 went unclaimed. It’s not quite a million, but it’s a substantial amount of money nonetheless!

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Getty TSA
Getting through security can be stressful. Photo: Getty Images

Almost $100,000 at one airport

The amounts left behind were, predictably, greatest at the busiest airports. In fact, one busy hub airport saw almost $100,000 left behind. Passengers passing through New York’s John F Kennedy airport mislaid a total of $98,110 over the course of the year.

However, JFK is not the busiest airport in the USA by any means. For 2019, it was actually the sixth busiest, but clearly the one where people are less careful with their cash.

The busiest US airport in 2019 was, of course, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, the busiest airport in the world. Last year, more than 110 million passengers passed through the airport, and there were over 900,000 aircraft movements. However, it appears these passengers were somewhat less forgetful, with a total of $13,315.46 left behind. That doesn’t even put it in the top five!

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From loose change to wads of cash, the TSA have raked in almost a million this year. Photo: Transport Security Administration

According to the TSA figures, the top five airports for lost cash were:

  1. John F. Kennedy International Airport – $98,110
  2. San Francisco International Airport – $52,668.70
  3. Miami International Airport – $47,694.03
  4. McCarran International Airport – $44,401.76
  5. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – $40,218.19

Other notable financial losses occurred at Chicago O’Hare, where over $35,000 was lost, Los Angeles where $32,000 was lost and Orlando where $37,000 was lost. The vast majority of the money was in USD, although some $18,899.09 of the total was in foreign currency.

What happens to the unclaimed money?

The TSA states that it always does its best to reunite passengers with their lost property. Anyone who returns to the checkpoint soon after forgetting something will get it back right away. If they are already mid-flight by the time they realize, the TSA holds items in its lost and found offices at airports around the country.

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Officers will do their best to reunite passengers with their lost property. Photo: Transport Security Administration

For the money that was unclaimed last year, the TSA will use this to improve civil aviation security. In its report, the agency said,

“TSA tries to ensure that all traveler property, including loose change, finds its way back to the proper owner. However, when loose change does not, it will be directed to critical aviation security programs.”

In September last year, the TSA held a total of $3,618,696 in unclaimed money from fiscal year 2019 as well as years before. They pledged to spend $2,100,000 on training and development as well as $32,000 on publicizing the TSA PreCheck program.

Have you ever lost money at an airport? Did you get it back? Tell us about your experience in the comments.