Zero profits made from confiscated items at airport

Tallahassee Regional Airport is one of many Florida airports that does not turn a profit from the Transportation Security Administration’s confiscated items.

A USA Today article said the selling of items confiscated during airport security has become very lucrative to many states.

However, Florida does not cash in on this opportunity, according to Debi Geiger, a stakeholder and manager of TRA.

“Each month the airport receives 40 pounds of voluntarily abandoned items, as the airport calls them,” Geiger said.

When passengers are found with banned items, they have the option of taking the items to their car, putting the items in their checked baggage or voluntarily abandoning their items to TSA security.

Stephanie Coates, 19, a business administration student from Raleigh, N.C., recalled having to relinquish her scissors when entering a security checkpoint in Miami.

“I was so mad because I just bought it,” Coates said. She was asked to put the scissors in her checked luggage or leave them with the TSA attendant.

It was the only item within her manicure set she was asked to forfeit. “I thought the employees got to take their pick,” Coates said.

But Geiger said TSA members do not keep the items that are confiscated.

The abandoned items are brought upstairs to the TSA office and placed in a container.

“Once we take it here, it becomes government property,” Geiger said. The airport then “sorts it out by knives, scissors or whatever content it may be.”

Geiger said a truck from Alabama Surplus, an auctioning company in Montgomery, Ala., comes and collects all of it every so often, and TSA has no knowledge of what they do with the items.

“Whatever they use it for, it goes back to the state of Alabama,” Geiger said.

Along with voluntarily abandoned items, Geiger said the Alabama Surplus also takes airline bags that never get claimed.

Geiger acknowledged how using the confiscated items for retail would be a good idea.

She said that when given the opportunity “Florida declined doing that.”

“Florida does not have the man power to log and tag all the items we get,” she said. She added that regulations for such actions are different in Florida.

Shane Bailey, the director of the Alabama Surplus said that Tallahassee is not the only city in Florida where his business picks up airport items.

Along with Tallahassee, Alabama surplus also makes stops in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Miami, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale Bailey said.

Bailey said his company makes pick-ups in Florida every eight weeks including Tallahassee’s airport.

Alabama Surplus keeps the items for the first 60 days according to Bailey. He said within those 60 days the items are offered to 2,200 non-profit organizations in Alabama. “It is state law.”

According to Bailey the items are first offered to fire departments, schools (both public and private), police departments and other organizations.

After those 60 days have passed they “sell the items for the best means to get the highest profit for the state,” said Bailey.

His company hosts a public auction three times a year. Alabama Surplus’ next auction will be held May 10.

“We sell a lot more than airport-abandoned property,” he said.

Currently TSA has decided to permit certain items through airport security.

“It changes constantly,” Geiger said.

Added items are tools which are 7 inches or less and scissors that are 4 inches from the pivot point, according to Geiger.

They allow items that are “not that much of a threat.” Rules and regulations are constantly changing Geiger said.

To get a complete list of permissible items log on to

Contact Anthony Anamelechi at