TSA Collected $400,000 In Change Left Behind By Travelers

Apparently, a lot of us are forgetting to take back the coins we keep tossing in those little plastic bins at the airport:

Airline passengers left more than $400,000 at airport security checkpoints operated by the Transportation Security Administration in 2011.

TSA found $409,085.56 in spare change last year that was unclaimed by passengers, according to figures released by the agency. Historically, if no one comes back to get the leftover money, it stays with the TSA.

A Florida lawmaker is trying to change that, however: Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) filed a bill in April of 2009 that would require TSA to transfer money that is not claimed by passengers when they leave airport security checkpoints to United Service Organizations.

Miller said Thursday in a statement provided to The Hill that the amount of change left at airport security checkpoints in 2011 could be put to better uses than the TSA’s operating budget.

“TSA keeps travelers change accidentally left at checkpoints as an appropriations backfill for agency activities,” Miller said. “There is no incentive for TSA to try to return the forgotten change to its rightful owner.

I’d love to ask the Congressman precisely how he thinks one is supposed to determine the rightful owner of 73 cents in spare change, or why trying to do so would be a productive use of the time of government employees.

FILED UNDER: Bureaucracy, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. John Peabody says:

    Puff piece. Non-story. Is this Yahoo! News?

  2. John Peabody says:

    I take that back, that was mean. Doug, you have written excellent posts recently on SCOTUS decisions. I read OTB from the blog page, and so each entry carries equal ‘weight’ on the screen. A light piece is welcome.

    But this story is irritating. $400k barely covers the total costs of a single senior employee (adding employer’s share of benefits, etc.). Why should anyone, anyone, get worked up over this? Only someone who wants to find an easy way to bash the TSA.

  3. JKB says:

    It certainly shouldn’t be retained by the TSA, wrong incentives. We have far to many programs that reward police and the security establishment for taking or keeping property of citizens. Absorbed by the General Fund maybe.

    Or, I know, it could be used to set up counseling to help victims of TSA molestation.

  4. John Burgess says:

    @JKB: If that were the case, the $400K would be gone in a week. The lawyers would take 60% and the shrinks the remaining 40%.

    I always put my change in my shoes since they’re already in the soon-to-be X-rayed container. That way, I never forget to put it back in my pocket. I do, however, occasionally find an elusive dime at 31,000 feet.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @John Peabody:

    But this story is irritating. $400k barely covers the total costs of a single senior employee (adding employer’s share of benefits, etc.). Why should anyone, anyone, get worked up over this? Only someone who wants to find an easy way to bash the TSA.

    John, Doug said:

    I’d love to ask the Congressman precisely how he thinks one is supposed to determine the rightful owner of 73 cents in spare change, or why trying to do so would be a productive use of the time of government employees.

    Soooooo….. “Why should anyone, anyone, get worked up over this?” was kinda his point.

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    There’s a lost and found hot line, right? Last week I left $158,492.35 in spare change at LAX and I need to get it back.

  7. Franklin says:

    … or why trying to do so would be a productive use of the time of government employees.

    More productive than patting down (and feeling up) grandma.

  8. rodney dill says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Please describe the size, color, and any distinguishing characteristics of EACH coin separately, in triplicate. Paper submissions only, accepted.