Posted: June 29, 2012
About every other time I fly, I end up leaving something at the airport checkpoint. One time it was my cell phone. On a trip back home from Las Vegas, I left a pair of sunglasses and about $60 in casino chips in the security tray. But most of the time, I've forgotten loose change that has not amounted to more than a couple of dollars.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently reported that it attempts to return the money to forgetful flyers, but since 2005, Congress has let the TSA keep the coins for its operating budget. In 2010, the TSA reported that it collected $409,000 in spare change at the nation's airports.
Given the fact that our nation's debt exceeds $1 trillion, I think it is silly that $400,000 lost at airports each year is being used to assist a government agency's budget rather than help out a worthy cause.
That is why I favor a bill currently before Congress that would make the TSA hand over proceeds from travelers who lose coins to the USO, the organization that supports the country's armed service men and women. A Florida congressman wants to go a step further and allow his legislation to include passing on to the USO the value of useful items that are left behind, including computers, cameras and sunglasses.
Passengers who fly through New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport left the most coins, with an annual total of $46,918. That makes sense to me since some of the wealthiest individuals live iin The Big Apple. Flyers at the Los Angeles Airport forgot more than $19,000 in lost change and those using Atlanta's airport forsake about $16,000.
I find it hard to believe that travelers passing through McCarron Airport in Las Vegas haven't left behind more change than any other airport. Then again, maybe gamblers only overlook casino chips. I'm sure the troops would appreciate the value of those more than anything.
INTERESTING FACT: Auto manufacturers are trying to lure more younger buyers into their showrooms without much success. Even though sales of new vehicles are approaching pre-recession levels, younger folks are still shying away. In fact, about 25 percent of the individuals under the age of 35 don't even have a license. At first, I was stunned at that statistic. But it began to make sense when one thinks of the younger professionals who live in big cities and use mass transit or opt to bike or walk.