Sending TSA a message will cost you time

A blogger for the Transportation Safety Administration has responded to techno-artist Evan Roth's "Airport X-Ray Art" project ... and the news is not good for those of you intent on sending the TSA a message via your carry-on bag: Suit yourself, but expect the stunt to cost you time.

Moreover, the reason -- as articulated in my original post about this matter by my brother, a bona fide airport security expect -- has nothing to do with the sentiment being expressed by the passenger or how it's received by the airport screener.

From the blog Evolution of Security:

As some of you might have seen on other blogs, Evan Roth is an artist who is designing personalized messages you can send to TSA security officers. He laser cuts the letters out of a sheet of stainless steel. The sheet is designed to be placed inside of a passenger's bag so they can send personal messages to the officer. Have to give the guy credit, he's creative. Even we got a laugh out of it.

This may seem like a clever gag, but actually the joke is on whoever decides to use one of these plates. Based on the preliminary examples shown on Mr. Roth's web page, the metal plate will get the passenger's bag searched every time. And no, it's not because of what the plate says, it's because the metal plate acts as a shield and conceals items below it. If an officer can't get a good look at what's in the bag, it's "bag check" time. Fair warning: there are detailed procedures on how to search this type of bag and it's not one of our quicker searches.

My brother, who trains security personnel on how to use his company's screening equipment, told me as much when I first wrote about this two weeks ago, saying, "If anything obscures the imagery of the bag, the screener will certainly be more likely to perform additional screening."

My advice if you really can't resist doing this kind of thing: Come up with your own funny message, make your metal plate, show it to your friends, and lie when you tell them you took it through the airport.

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