We all know that flying is a painful experience -- the security lines and baggage fees, capped off by the overall unpleasantness of your fellow travelers. To make matters worse, we're tossing free money at the airports to help fund our utterly miserable experiences.
USA Today found that in 2010, airline passengers left behind a good chunk of loose change as they rushed through the airports, amounting to roughly $400,000.
Just think of how many plane tickets to Europe that would buy!
San Francisco travelers were among the top offenders, leaving behind $15,908.02 in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters as they pushed through security to catch flights. Passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York left behind the most change in 2010, where the TSA scooped up an extra $46,918.06. Los Angeles International travelers left $19,110.83, and Hartsfield Atlanta International found $16,523.83 in unclaimed coins.
Now for the real question ... what does the TSA do with all this spare change?
According to Greg Soul, spokesman for the TSA, the agency "makes every effort" to reunite passengers with their loose change. But aside from chasing down people, hoping to connect penny with passenger, there's not much left for the TSA to do, but, of course, spend your money. Soul says that any leftover change is put into the TSA's piggy bank to "finance agency operations."
Here's where you can count on Republicans. GOP Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida is attempting to, uh, change this practice. He's proposing legislation that would put that extra cash into the pockets of the United Service Organizations, to help operate their welcome centers for U.S. military personnel around the globe.
TSA to keep unclaimed taxpayer money for any and all purposes is an
egregious breach of its duty to the public that it serves," Miller wrote
in a recent letter to House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter
King, R-N.Y. "This money should be put to good use."
Now there's a statement both Democrats and Republicans could agree on.