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Since 2002, the Transportation Security Administration has been collecting the Passenger Fee (also known colloquially as the “September 11 Fee”) from passengers at the time of the initial ticket purchase. The fee was first established to strengthen airport travel security following the 9/11 attacks.

“The revenue generated from these security fees is utilized to help ensure the safe and efficient flow of people and commerce,” states the official TSA website.

The fee, which is currently at $5.60 for one-way trips and $11.20 for round-trip, has generated tons of revenue for the TSA. The agency has released its annual data on how much it’s collecting via the fee each fiscal year — and the total might surprise you. In 2017, the TSA collected nearly $4 billion in passenger fees.

The chart shows a steadily increasing pattern throughout the past 15 years, with a nearly $2 million jump to $3,882,602,000 in the past year. It seems a majority of offsetting collections are going to “aviation security expenses,” which include “background investigations, training, salaries, and benefits for the federal security screeners and law enforcement personnel, to TSA PreCheck and Known Crewmember programs to the Federal Air Marshals Service, to security-related capital improvements at airports, as well as the costs of security training for pilots and flight attendants and federal flight deck officers,” according to the TSA website. The rest is allotted to “offsetting aviation security collections.”

Featured image by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

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