TSA Reports $3m Being Left As Loose Change In Airport Security


The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reporting that passengers leave up to $3 million in loose change in trays while passing through airport security each year.

One dollar coins and two dollars bills. Photo: Pixabay

Before passing through airport x-ray machines, passengers are required to remove all metal objects from their person and put them in the grey trays. In a rush to get through airport security checks, travellers often leave behind watches, jewellery, laptops, mobile phones, and of course, money!

What does the law say about the forgotten money?

TSA officer checking passengers hair for hidden items. Photo: TSA

According to federal law in the United States, if no one comes back to claim the money the TSA is allowed to keep it and spend it on anything that will improve airport security.

The TSA website states that the agency “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.

“Unclaimed money, typically consisting of loose coins passengers remove from their pockets, is documented and turned into the TSA financial office.”

Could the money be used for extra security on the Mexican border?

security at the U.S. – Mexican border. Photo: DHS

In 2005, Congress gave the agency the ability to use the forgotten money to help fund security operations. It now looks like President Trump is going to take the money and use it for border security.


Earlier this month the White House asked Congress to allocate money to beef up security on America’s southern border with Mexico.

With the Democratic-run Congress at loggerheads with the Trump administration over the need for added security, the Department of Homeland Security is working on a contingency plan in case the funding doesn’t materialize. This is according to leaked documents obtained by NBC.


$3 million is only a small part of the $232 million that the DHS is asking for. However, the loose change could be added to the money that had been allocated for new screening technology. Together, this could be used to send extra security officers to the southern border.

The Trump administration claims that this money will be used for staffing expenses, additional beds in detention centres and operations that help combat smuggling and human trafficking.

According to Reuters, spokesman for the DHS Tyler Houlton said the agency “is considering all options to address the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. We will continue to work with our workforce to find dynamic solutions and funding to address this very serious problem.”

Houlton said the agency was exploring “fiscal mechanisms that will ensure the safety and welfare of both our workforce and the migrant population, which is also reflected in the supplemental request submitted to Congress.”

Meanwhile, the union representing TSA workers, the American Federation of Government Employees, issued a statement. This was picked up by Reuters as saying that moving TSA funds would only create “another Trump administration manufactured ‘crisis.’”

“TSA is already underfunded and understaffed, and diverting its resources just as we enter the busiest travel season will be an operational disaster,” said the group’s president, J. David Cox Sr.

TSA staff being relocated to the southern border will include air marshals and as many as 400 additional airport security staff according to CNN who cited unnamed sources.

What this could mean for you

TSO Checks Passenger Identification. Photo: DHS

Lines at U.S. airports are already long and time-consuming due to staff shortages. Taking people away from the airports to work on the southern border will only exacerbate the problem.

Have a vacation closer to home and avoid what is looking like being a summer of more headaches and stress at American airports.