How Much Do You Tip Your Airport Security Screener?

Open Jaw

When even fast food restaurants are adding a tip prompt to payment devices, you know this whole gratuity expectation may have reached a tipping point.

In Cuba last week, Open Jaw returned to a resort room to find not a cutesy towel animal on the bed, but a towering, somewhat malevolent-looking bedspread swan, along with a note signed with a heart from the housekeeper.

The next day we left a return note and a 5 CUC tip. On returning to the room after a conference day the money was gone, the note was still there but the giant fabric swan looked like it had been beaten with a mop until it was just an unsightly mass of piled fabric. Uh, was the tip not sufficient?

Yes, tipping is tricky these days. But how much should you give the officer at the airport security checkpoint who pats you down and sends you on your way?

Just kidding. Nothing against these people performing an important role, but if one was paying to be groped, the venue wouldn’t likely be an airport.

Despite this, in 2015 pax in a rush to gather their belongings after going through U.S. airport checkpoints left behind $765,759.15 in the plastic buckets and bins – mostly loose change. Thanks to a law passed by Congress in 2005, once local TSA stations collect the cash and the TSA financial office counts it, it belongs to the agency. So it is a tip of sorts.

“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,” TSA said in a statement. “Receipts of unclaimed money are deposited into a Special Fund account so that the resources can be tracked easily and subsequently expended.”

Pax not interested in leaving an unintentional tip for the TSA can drop loose coins in pre-security collection boxes at several airports and have the money donated to a local charity.

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