Scenario: you are at security checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson airport. You set the metal detector off with the pocket knife you forgot you had. Of course, you cannot take it with you; so you leave it. But what happens after that?
Guess what--many of those items end up in Alabama. But let's start with the liquids.. like that ones that are oversized. Food, liquids, shampoo, and lotion for example, that are not sealed in a duty-free bag immediately end up in the trash.
As for the prohibited items that may be in your pockets or carry-on, like scissors, knives, lighters, weapons...you typically have a choice. You can take it to your car, give it to someone who is not flying, or leave it at the collection bin.
That bin is then picked up by Alabama's Surplus Property Division. But why Alabama? TSA Spokesman, Mark Howell, says Georgia imposes too many rules on giving stuff away; so Alabama said they would come get it. Those items are then sold to non-profit groups and charities. The TSA does not make any money off what is left behind.
Speaking of money, all that loose change in 2013...the TSA gave the U.S. Treasury more than half a million dollars of it. For the items accidentally left behind in the bins, like magazines or pens--those are tossed.
But if it has value, it goes to the airport's lost and found section and stays there up to 60 days. The items not claimed at that point are then shipped to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Alabama.
Once there, all that stuff is sold at a thrift-style store, where part of the proceeds go back to the Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corporation.
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