The TSA and the Case of the Strange Battery Charger
A TSA screener doesn’t like the look of a homemade battery charger, and refuses to let it on an airplane. Interesting story, both for the escalation procedure the TSA screener followed, and this final observation:
But these are the times we live in. A handful of people with no knowledge of physics, engineering, or pyrotechnics are responsible for determining what is and what is not safe to bring on a plane. They’re paid minimum wage and told to panic if they see something they don’t recognize. Does this make me feel safer? It doesn’t really matter. Implementing real security would bring the cost of flying up, which would likely cause a collapse of the airborne transportation network this country has worked so hard to build up.
The UK banned laptop computers in carry-on luggage for a few days and quickly reversed the idea. The lack of laptops would make the option unattractive to business professionals. Security would cost more than money and many passengers wouldn’t have accepted it.
So the TSA finally let me onto my flight with the two devices they told me they weren’t going to let me take on my flight. They told me the device looked like an I.E.D., then let me on the plane with it.
Does that mean I can bring them on my flight next week?
And that’s the problem: the TSA is both arbitrary and capricious, and it’s impossible to follow the rules because no one knows how they will be applied.