How much do you love the Transportation Security Administration?
Enough to leave a tip every time you go through security at the airport?
I didn’t think so.
But in their rush to get through airport checkpoints, passengers leave a hefty amount of ‘tips’ for the TSA every year.
For its fiscal year 2016, the Transportation Security Administration reports that passengers left behind more than $867, 812.39 in coins and currency in the plastic bowls and bins at airport checkpoints.
That’s about $102,000 more than was left behind in 2015 and more than $484,000 than was left behind in 2008.
Over the years, the amount of change left behind by travelers at airports has been climbing, jumping from about $489,000 in 2011 to almost $675,000 in 2014 and to almost $766,000 in 2015.
Last year, passengers at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport were the most forgetful (or generous…) travelers, leaving behind $70,615 in unintentional ‘tips’ for TSA.
Also on the top ten list for fiscal year 2016: Los Angeles International Airport, where travelers left behind almost $45,000, and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where more than $42,000 in cash and currency was left in checkpoint bins.
What happens to all that money?
Back in 2005, Congress passed a law saying TSA gets to keep that unclaimed cash and spend it on any sort of civil aviation security efforts it deems fit.
In at least two previous years’ reports, TSA stated that the unclaimed money collected from airports would be used to support the expansion of the TSA Precheck program, which gives travelers expedited screening privileges, allowing them to keep shoes and lights jacks on and their laptops and quart-sized bag of liquids and gels inside their carry-ons.
When it filed its report on the almost $868,000 in unclaimed money collected from airports in fiscal year 2016, however, TSA said it had not yet determined how it would spend those funds.
Don’t want to leave a tip?
At some airport checkpoints, passengers can also empty loose change from their pockets directly into donation bins for local charities before moving through the line.
During 2016, travelers passing through Denver International Airport donated $87,106.91 to Denver’s Road Home, a non-profit that works with service providers for the region’s homeless community. And last year passengers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International contributed more than $11,000 to help support the USO operations at the airport.