Just like I've been saying for years - the security at airports is to make us feel secure so we keep flying and the airline industry stays healthy. Whenever they pull anything out of my bag and deem it a security list I have to keep mum about the fact that I'd already gone through security at 7 airports previous to this one and they just found the offending item. I'm certain that anyone with a brain could carry enough parts on a plane and blow a hole in the side. The reality is there just isn't enough people wanting to do it. Terrorism isn't about keeping innocent people from doing things, it's about scaring them.
According to a USA TODAY article the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) had agents in plain clothes carry phony bomb parts through security at LAX and Chicago O'Hare to see which would get spotted. Seventy-five percent of the parts taken into LAX got through without detection, and 60% at O'Hare. SFO (San Francisco/Oakland) hires private companies to do the screening and only 20% of the parts went undetected.
A test in 2002 showed they failed to find guns 24% of the time. In the late 90's they missed 40% of bombs, by 2002 they were missing 60%. In the next 5 years they might as well dissolve the TSA altogether for ineffectiveness.
This basically means that if there's a terrorist on the plane you should probably go ahead and violate the FAA's regulations and call your loved ones on your cell phone in hopes that it will mess up the aircrafts navigation system (It won't).
It seems their ability to detect completely assembled bombs has gone up though (as long as the word BOMB has been stenciled on the side in block letters using lead paint).
I've done articles before comparing the Seattle to Portland travel options of driving vs. flying vs. the train. Although my initial impression was that driving would win on cost and flying would win on speed I was wrong. All three methods take the same amount of time from downtown to downtown if being fair (ie. you need to put gas in the car, get through security, wait in line to board the train etc..). The train ended up being cheapest for up to 3 people and by far the most enjoyable. Flying lost every comparison. When you fly you have less usable time, more interruptions (light rail, security gates, boarding, wireless disconnect, de-boarding, light rail) and more discomfort (small seat, TSA) so it lost in every aspect. The Amtrak Cascades won in most aspects outside of freedom once arriving at the destination and frequency.
The reason I'm writing about this again is that Hipmunk a travel search engine has added Amtrak to it's search results. What's also interesting about Hipmunk is that it includes an Agony filter. You can sort by least Agonizing trip. I'm not sure what criteria Hipmunk uses but I'll show the results for Seattle to Portland trips. Also keep an eye on the prices for a round trip ticket. The trip with the least agony is also the cheapest.
I've always wanted to just mess with the TSA since they're completely asinine half the time but I'm always in a hurry it seems. This tote bag would be good fuel for the fire though. I'm sure they wouldn't think it's very funny and would insist on going through all of my bags just to express their opinion but I think I might try it anyway..
Even funnier (and more disruptive to my travel plans) would be to tape on tin foil shaped scissors etc... I'm not sure what they'd look like in the X-ray machine but it might be fun to find out.
TSA isn't that careful anyway so they might not notice. I did an article quite some time ago about a third party company testing airport security. On average they were able to get fake bomb parts through security 25% of the time. That means that every four terrorists through security could blow up a plane.
There was a time where we had bottles of liquid in our bag and they pulled us aside and hand searched the bag. Once they found two they threw them away and sent us on our way. When we got to the hotel we opened our bag and took out the rest. Another time they swore they saw sissors in a friends bag so they took everything out until there was nothing left and still said they saw scissors but since they couldn't find them they let us through anyway. What if they saw a gun but couldn't find it, would they let us through?