This is annoying, the TSA is proudly claiming a huge victory on their site – no they didn’t catch someone trying to do something bad and unfortunately we’re all not safer. They found a battery pack someone made for their DVD player in their carry on luggage via Schneier on security.
The checkpoint area was immediately closed as Bomb Appraisal Officer Timothy D. Smith inspected the item and spoke with the passenger. The item in question was determined to be an empty metal bottle and a home-made battery pack, consisting of 28 rechargeable batteries connected by multiple resistors and held together in two layers with a silicone-based adhesive.
Sounds like the commercial battery packs you can buy, but this one was made by an engineer. It likely took the bomb expert 2 seconds to determine it was not dangerous.
It’s more likely that the “metal” cylinder was for water, you can’t bring full water bottles so most smart people keep an empty bottle and fill it up once you get past the check point. The TSA took a staged photo so it looked like it was some type of fake movie-device that Bruce Willis needs to disarm at the last second.
The passenger was an engineer and said he built the battery to power his DVD player for the long flight to Hawaii. After recognizing that the item could be seen by other passengers as a threat, the man surrendered it to Supervisory TSO Raiford Patterson and was allowed to board the flight.
Other passengers aren’t the TSA, a battery pack isn’t a threat, we are not the experts. Once the TSA saw it wasn’t a threat they should have just taken care of this and not put up a victory story. If there is some new rule about not being able to have batteries and wires they need to publish that and put signs up everywhere (I’m aware of the laptop battery rule and carry my extra one in a plastic bag).
“We must treat every suspicious item the same and utilize the tools we have available to make a final determination,” said Federal Security Director David Wynn. “Procedures are in place for a reason and this is a clear indication our workforce is doing a great job.”
It seems to me like the opposite is true, they’re confiscating things that “look” like things in movies and then putting up stories about it. Real dangers do not look like extra batteries for a DVD player. I fly with homemade electronics and so far I’ve never had a problem, the TSA is usually very competent and know what they’re doing. Real dangers should be found and documented, I realize this engineer didn’t do a great job on their battery pack (sorry) but I don’t think the TSA site is helpful if this is what they’re doing to be doing with it.