We Donated $13,513.50 in Loose Change to the TSA at Logan Airport in 2014

Should we eliminate the penny so we can stop giving it away?

Associated Press

Associated Press

Few people love their experience with the Transportation Security Administration while passing through the nation’s airports, but hey, that’s no reason not to leave a tip. In the fiscal year 2014, travelers at Boston’s Logan Airport forgot to reclaim $13,513.50 in loose change they had removed from their pockets while passing through metal detectors. Guess we enjoyed those pat-downs!

According to TSA Spokesman Ross Feinstein, Logan isn’t even the worst offender. Twelve airports abandoned more money than we did. Altogether, Americans sacrificed $674,841.06 in spare coins last year. Feinstein said in a statement:

TSA makes every effort to reunite passengers with items left at the checkpoint. However, there are instances where loose change or other items are left behind and unclaimed. Unclaimed money, typically consisting of loose coins passengers remove from their pockets, is documented and turned into the TSA financial office.

The TSA gets to keep that money and use it to fund airport security operations. Even though it adds up to a lot of cash, it’s not super surprising that Americans are so casual with their change. We accumulate nearly valueless pennies during cash transactions, but we’re so unlikely to keep them in circulation that the U.S. Mint has to spend billions to replace them each year. We spend more manufacturing pennies than we do on nickels, dimes, or quarters, which we tend to treat less casually and reuse more often. Now, on the long list of reasons we should consider eliminating the penny (and maybe even the nickel), let’s add the fact that we’re often just donating them back to the guy who made us throw out our contact solution.