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Even seasoned travelers leave money behind at TSA checkpoints

Even seasoned travelers leave money behind at TSA checkpoints

Even seasoned travelers leave loose change behind at TSA security checkpoints - you'd be surprised t
Even seasoned travelers leave money behind at TSA checkpoints
Even seasoned travelers leave loose change behind at TSA security checkpoints - you'd be surprised to know how much is left behind in a year at some of the larger airports.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Seasoned travelers - like people who frequently enter courthouses - know it's a pain to have loose change in their pockets.

The best advice is to leave it home or in the car. Otherwise travelers have to dump their coins out to go through a metal detector screening.

Maybe not surprisingly, not everyone thinks to scoop up their change, along with their keys and belt and shoes, after they're done.

Actually, they leave a decent amount of change behind.

Nationally, the Transportation Security Administration reported that in 2015 it collected $765,759 in money unclaimed at security checkpoints - mostly loose quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies that got left in those shallow plastic trays.

Some big international airports collected the kind of cash that could buy someone a pretty fancy boat, a mid-life crisis sports car or a crocodile-skin umbrella ($50,000, according to the internet.)

At Albany International Airport, though, the TSA screeners last year found the far more paltry sum of $743.69. On average, that's 0.6 cents for each of the 1.3 million people who boarded last year.

Even experienced flyers can feel so rushed they leave their change behind, said airport spokesman Doug Myers.

"There's a lot of anxiety involved in flying," Myers said. "From the time they arrive at the airport, they just want to get through security and get to their flight on time, and that's all they're focused on."

People have been known to leave cameras, laptops and even their belts. Both the TSA and the airport maintain lost and found counters. The current lost and found inventory at the airport includes a blue pillow, a gold bracelet, eyeglasses, credit cards, an iPad and rain boots, Myers reported.

"People have had to go back (to the checkpoints) for wallets, go back for boarding passes," Myers said.

The TSA report, though, lists only the amounts of money gathered up by screeners last year.

For comparison's sake, elsewhere in the Northeast, Greater Rochester International Airport gathered $896.39, and Syracuse-Hancock collected $474.98; Burlington collected $870.06, and Buffalo, $1,553.81. Bradley-Hartford screeners found a little more: $2,904.88.

John F. Kennedy International Airport took top prize in New York state at $43,715.88. That's among the tops in the nation, but even JFK is outpaced by Miami International, with a lost money fund of $50,955.58. The nation's top change-collector? Los Angeles International, which came in at $55,086.39.

Curiously, those travelling through the nation's busiest airport, Atlanta-Hartsfield, managed to lose only $9,693.81.

The TSA is required to make an annual report on the lost money to Congress. The agency says it makes efforts at the checkpoints to remind people to take their change.

The money TSA collects is used for airport security improvements.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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