Going through Airport Security? Don't Forget Your Coins

For most men going through airport security, this is second nature: Reach into pockets, pull out coins, place on tray. What happens next is some travelers forget to pick up their coins – and we have a list of worst airports for left-behind coins below. But, no big deal, right? We’re just talking nickels and dimes, right? Wrong.

7 really strange things left at airports

$500,000-Plus in Loose Change

All those pennies and nickels and dimes and quarters do add up. Last year alone, the total of all loose change left behind at U.S. airports came to more than half a million dollars – $531,395.22 to be precise. Who keeps it? The TSA – for now.

Money for Military?

In fairness to the TSA, they try to reunite forgetful owners with the small change (and other forgotten items) – and sometimes this is as simple as yelling, “Hey, you forgot your [fill in the blank]” – but they get busy and passengers are busy putting their shoes back on or looking for their gate number. So what happens is the TSA keeps it and the money goes into their budget. However, earlier this week, as NBC reported, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would allocate these coins to “nonprofit organizations that provide places of rest and recuperation at airports for members of the Armed Forces and their families.” The bill still faces a vote in the Senate.

7 airports with hidden treasures

Left Behind Coins: Which Airport is Biggest Loser

Which airport security checkpoints collect the most money? The busiest ones tend to rake in more than others of course, but some airports may surprise you: Are travelers in Miami just naturally more forgetful? And what about those Guam travelers? Frugal or alert? See if your airport made the top 10 (and we include Guam which landed at the bottom of the leftover change list). Statistics from USA Today:



Money Left at Security in 2012

Miami International


McCarran International (Las Vegas)


O’Hare International (Chicago)


Los Angeles International (LAX)


John F. Kennedy International (New York)


Dallas/Fort Worth International


San Francisco International


Washington Dulles International


Logan International (Boston)


George Bush Intercontinental (Houston)


Antonio B. Won Pat International (Guam)



Coin Losses through the Years

You’ll notice in the chart below that the amount of money increased each year (since 2008, anyway) except for a dip in 2010. Perhaps the lingering effects of the economic doldrums made coin removers more careful – or they had less loose change to lose. 


Money Left at Security by Year












Published: December 4, 2013