That's adding up to a small fortune for the Transportation Security Administration, which last year collected almost $675,000 in spare change left behind by travelers, according to agency data. While 2014 represented the biggest lost-change haul for the TSA, it's collected several hundred thousand dollars in unclaimed money during each fiscal year since 2008. All together, forgotten loose change at American airports has amounted to more than $3.5 million in the past seven years.
If no one claims the lost money, the TSA is allowed to keep it, with the funds then going to pay for security operations. A dropped coin here or there can amount to real money, something that the TSA isn't alone in noticing. With the arrival of smartphones and other devices, there's some evidence that Americans are increasingly neglectful of loose change, perhaps because they lack a free hand to pick up a dropped coin or they're so engaged in texting that they're simply not aware of it.
One dedicated coin hunter told The New Yorker magazine since the iPhone rolled out in 2007, he's picked up an average of $95 per year from New York's sidewalks, or 63 percent more than in the two decades before that.