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Person placing smartphone into bin at airport security
Monkey Business | Adobe Stock

What Happens to Items Left Behind at TSA Checkpoints?

You’re hurrying through airport security to make it to your gate on time. You grab your boots, purse, and jacket and sprint to board your flight. Once you’ve settled into your seat, your heart sinks—you left behind your laptop at the TSA checkpoint after you took it out of your bag for screening. What happens to it now?

How to Get Back Your Lost Item From the TSA

Person placing tablet into bin at airport security
Monkey Business | Adobe Stock

You’re not alone in being forgetful. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), approximately 90,000 to 100,000 items are left behind at checkpoints every month.

If it happens to you, there’s an easy way to be reunited with your lost item—call the airport’s Lost & Found department. You can find the phone number for your specific airport on the TSA’s Lost and Found list here.

Can’t make it back to the airport where you left your stuff? The TSA will even ship it back to you (at your own expense, of course). You can also authorize (in writing) someone else to come pick it up for you.

You’ll need to be able to prove that the missing item is in fact yours by describing any notable details (such as color) and be able to say when it was lost in order to reclaim it. 

What Happens to Unclaimed Items?

Lost property will be kept by the TSA for at least 30 days to give you time to find and claim your item. If no one comes to collect a lost item within that time period, it could be destroyed, sold, or donated. 

Items containing personal information (like unclaimed electronics) will have their memory removed and destroyed in order to protect privacy. 

Want to buy someone’s lost item? Check out, where you can bid on “confiscated/forfeited property” which includes stuff that was left behind at airport security.

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