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The Marketplace Reader

TSA pockets over $1 million in change

Richard Core Jul 30, 2008

While travelers at America’s imports are removing their shoes, putting laptop computers through separately and removing all items from their pockets, they’re leaving behind a lot of change. USA Today reports:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has collected — and kept — more than $1 million in the past three years from airline passengers who forget coins at checkpoints. Passengers must take change out of their pockets and drop it in plastic bins that go through X-ray machines, but tens of thousands of people each year forget to reclaim it.

The TSA has been keeping change since October 2004, when it lobbied Congress to amend federal law and let the agency use the money to defray security costs. Previously, money left at checkpoints went to a general fund in the federal treasury.

The cash leader: Los Angeles International Airport, where passengers left behind $89,375 from Sept. 30, 2004 to Oct. 1, 2007, according to TSA reports. The cash laggard: Chattanooga (Tenn.) Metropolitan Airport, whose 300,000 departing passengers in 2007 left just $1.20.

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