Travel

TSA officials share some of the interesting items travelers leave behind in a rush

Some of the strangest things left behind include skeleton remains, bags of diamonds, a prosthetic limb, and car seats, Assistant Security Director Jason Smith said.

The Terminal D at George Bush Intercontinental Airport unveiled on February 15, 2018, an innovative set of four automated screening lanes that will enhance the security screening process and also ease the passengers’ experience at the terminal.
The Terminal D at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

It's likely many Thanksgiving air travelers will leave things behind at TSA security checkpoints as they're rushing to their gates over the holiday.

Most of the time, travelers will leave books or hats. Hobby Airport's Assistant Security Director, Jason Smith, said there's also a whole lot of neck pillows forgotten at checkpoints. Sometimes, though, what people leave behind is a little stranger than that.

"Skeleton remains, which was a little different. Gold bars, diamond brokers with bags of diamonds, prosthetic limb that was left. And how they left a prosthetic limb, I don't understand," Smith said.

He said he's most amazed by how some travelers in a hurry even leave car seats or strollers behind.

"I'm glad they took the kid. They remembered the child," Smith said. "I figure the husband got a good, firm, stern talking to, maybe? I don't know."

Smith said arriving at airports early can help prevent leaving valuable objects. However, he said property that's left behind is separated by how valuable it is and can usually be picked up again from the airport within 30 days of when it was left behind. Smith said money is a different story.

"It doesn't matter whether it's one cent or a hundred dollars, it doesn't matter whether it's a peso from Mexico when you're coming back from your Cancun trip. All of it's collected. That is counted and double counted," he said.

Smith said the TSA does not keep any lost items or money. Low-value items are collected by a waste management company, while high-value items are sent to the TSA main headquarters in D.C. after 30 days at the airport, and then to the General Services Administration. The administration then sells those items to go toward a general government fund.