Passengers Left More Than $900K Behind at TSA Airport Security Checkpoints

New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport Tops the List Nationwide

Air travelers left nearly $1 million behind at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport checkpoints in fiscal year 2019, as reported in the annual “Unclaimed Money at Airports” report submitted to Congress, with airports in the New York City region high on the list of airports that saw the most money left behind. TSA plans to use the unclaimed money towards providing critical aviation security programs.

During FY 2018, TSA collected $926,030.44 in unclaimed money, including $18,899.09 in foreign currency. It marked a decrease in the amount of unclaimed money collected in FY18 when $960,105.49 was left behind.

The top five airports where passengers have left the most money behind were:

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport – $98,110
  • San Francisco International Airport – $52,668.70
  • Miami International Airport – $47,694.03
  • McCarran International Airport – $44,401.76
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – $40,218.19

In the New York City area, John F. Kennedy International topped the list of airports locally and nationwide with the amount of unclaimed money at $98,110.00. Newark Liberty International Airport saw $29,121.84 in unclaimed cash and LaGuardia Airport saw $23,536,12 in money left behind at checkpoints last fiscal year.

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.

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.

The last six fiscal years of loose change at airport checkpoints (October 1 to September 30):

  • FY 2013 – $638,142.64
  • FY 2014 – $674,841.06
  • FY 2015 – $765,759.15
  • FY 2016 – $867,812.39
  • FY 2017 – $866,839.56
  • FY 2018 –  $960,105.49


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