Passengers Forget $1 Million at Airport Security Checkpoints in U.S.

San Francisco International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower
San Francisco International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower Photo: SFO

Passengers left approximately $1 million behind at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport checkpoints in financial year 2019, according to the annual “Unclaimed Money at Airports” report submitted to U.S. Congress.

Airports in the New York City area ranked top on the list of airports that saw the most money left behind the airport security checkpoints. TSA is slated to use the unclaimed money to acquire significant aviation security programs.

In the New York City region, John F. Kennedy International topped the list of airports locally and nationwide with the amount of unclaimed money at $98,110. Newark Liberty International saw $29,121 in unclaimed money and LaGuardia saw $23,536 in money left behind at checkpoints last fiscal year.

left money at airport security checkpoints
New York City area airports saw travelers leave tens of thousands of dollars behind at checkpoints in FY 2019. Photo: TSA

Top 5 Airports Where Travelers Left Money at Checkpoints in 2019

1John F. Kennedy International$98,110.00
2San Francisco International $52,668.70
3Miami International$47,694.03
4McCarran International$44,401.76
5Dallas/Fort Worth International$40,218.19

During fiscal year 2018, TSA collected $926,030 in unclaimed money, including $18,899 in foreign currency, marking a drop in the amount of unclaimed money collected in FY18 when $960,105 was left behind.

“TSA makes every effort to reunite passengers with items they have left at checkpoints, but there are instances where loose change or other items go unclaimed. Typically, that means loose change that travelers remove from their pockets and place in checkpoint bins. Sometimes that means unmarked envelopes of cash,” said TSA.

“Unfortunately, it is easy for passengers to accidentally leave items, including wallets and loose change, in bins. This is because if an advertisement is at the bottom of a bin, a traveler who glances into the bin for anything remaining may be distracted by the advertisement and not realize there is some change in the bin.”

“Also, travelers who use multiple bins may stack the bins, walk over to the side to sit down to put on shoes, return laptops to their carry-on bags and not realize that the bin at the bottom of their stack still has some change in the bottom. For these reasons, TSA recommends that travelers remove items from their pockets and place those items directly into their carry-on bags so that the items will not be left behind.”


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