Travelers Leave Behind Piles of Stuff at Airport Screening Stations During Holiday Travel Rush

Rows and rows of coats, a child's car seat, phone cords, laptops, even a drone: That's what is left behind Monday at security screening stations after a busy holiday travel weekend at Dulles International Airport.

Hundreds of people leave belongings behind as they go through screening. Some items aren't allowed past security. Other things are just forgotten.

The drone, for example, had gone through the metal detector -- and then someone forgot to pick it up.

The pile of left-behinds is particularly large right now, after a weekend when many infrequent fliers packed airports.

"We have a child's seat here," Transportation Security Administration officer Bill Covieo. "That's not too infrequent to see in the lost and found. They call in a panic, and we still have it here."

But the security-screening stuff is a year-round problem. This year, the TSA had to give two tons of lost personal belongings from Dulles to charity.

The TSA does hang on to the left-behind items for a while, hoping the owner will turn up. Often, they do.

That's what happened to Emalee Danner of Bethesda, who left her driver's license behind at a security screening area at Dulles while rushing to a Christmas Eve flight to New York. The TSA kept the license until Danner got back to town.

"It was a pretty panicking moment" when she realized she had left her ID, Danner said. "I had my parents call around because I was a in a panic and I didn't know what to do."

This year alone, Dulles TSA officials have found -- and returned to travelers -- 479 laptops or tablets; another 98 were never claimed. They've returned 202 cell phones, while another 242 were left unclaimed.

And they've returned 239 IDs or passports, with another 479 unclaimed.

The TSA will even mail lost items back to their owners, if they owner is willing to pay for shipping.

If you've lost an item in the airport, there are two places to check to see if it's been found.

If you've lost it at a security screening station, use the TSA's tool to look up the right contact for any airport in the country. Click here for the tool.

If you lost it elsewhere in Dulles airport, click here. For Reagan National Airport, click here. And for Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport, click here.

Contact Us