The TSA Has $400,000 of America’s Hard-Earned Spare Change in Its Clutches


Have a bunch of spare change that you’ve left in your drawer or in a bag under your bed, waiting for that rainy day (or a clear, sunny day, because that would be better for transportation purposes) in which you are so bored that you decide to lug it to a CoinStar machine and get real, spendable dollars for it? Wait no longer. Instead of lugging it to the CoinStar, put it in your pockets and head out for JFK airport. (Wear a belt, coins are heavy.) When you arrive at security, along with taking off your shoes, turning over your snowglobe, uncasing your laptop and putting it in its individual bin, and all of the other things you do, put your spare change in a bin as well. Then, set it and forget it! Or, collect your items except for the change and go on your merry way to West Palm Beach, Florida.

In 2011, a number of absent-minded airplane passengers (these are called “the vanguard” in marketing speak) had this very idea. As a collective only in so much as they all forgot about their change while putting on their shoes and re-robing, they left $409,085.56 in spare change, still unclaimed, at airport security checkpoints. Meanwhile, the TSA was rubbing its greedy little hands, knowing that, if no one came back to get it, that money would be theirs, all theirs, just like your snow globe and 16 ounce tub of Crème de la Mer. They can do with it what they will. This is their grand plan! (Probably, actually, it isn’t. Probably they don’t want your pennies and/or illegal Chuck E Cheese tokens any more than you do. But it’s amusing to imagine.)

Now Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, is getting involved, saying that all that money left behind should be put to good use and “there is no better organization to use this money wisely than the United Service Organizations.”

For the record, $46,918.06 of this spare change was left at JFK. There really should be more of those CoinStar machines accessible in the New York City area. If we had a dollar for every time we said that.

TSA collected $400,000 in spare change left by passengers in airports [The Hill]