You know, there are people out there, such as me, who have accused the TSA of being pointless largely because it is always responding to the last threat we faced rather than thinking ahead. Well, I stand corrected. As this story proves, the TSA turns out to have been fully prepared to protect America from dangerous frozen chickens wearing mining helmets.
And that is not a threat I would have predicted.
The TSA shut down Lafayette Regional Airport in Louisiana at 10:48 a.m. on Tuesday after an employee noticed a "suspicious package" during screening (presumably he was running the X-ray machine although the report didn't say). The employee said he saw a bulky, mysterious object inside the package, and that it appeared to be wired up to something. He notified other personnel and the terminal was evacuated. Bomb-sniffing dogs and "other resources" were used to investigate, according to a spokesman for the local sheriff's office.
The package turned out to contain a frozen chicken stuffed with crawfish, and a head-mounted mining light. The two images overlapped, and the wires that were part of the headlamp apparently gave the false impression that the chicken had been wired to blow. At 11:45, the chicken was cleared to proceed and normal operations resumed.
Let's set aside the question why someone might have chosen to pack a frozen meal in his luggage, or to pack it along with his mining helmet. (I assume the answer to both questions is "Louisiana.") My focus here is on why the TSA can't immediately distinguish between (1) what would have been a huge amount of plastic explosives and (2) a frozen chicken stuffed with crawdads. And I have questions.
- Are X-ray machines really that unhelpful?
- Are terrorists crafty enough to make bombs in the shape of a plucked chicken, thinking they will sail through security at least in Louisiana?
- Would they also put chicken bones inside such a device? Bones show up on X-rays, don't they? Do crawdads?
- Does this mean the dogs are now useless, since bomb-sniffing dogs are almost certainly also chicken-sniffing dogs?
- Does this mean that I am going to have to start taking my raw chickens out of my carry-on bags and walking them through the new body-scanners? So that everybody can see my chicken naked?
- Finally, even if you think this was sufficiently weird to warrant an investigation into the possible chicken bomb, should that really have taken a full hour?
I post this as a public service for those who may be traveling with chickens during this busy holiday travel season, and anyone who still believes "enhanced" airport security is really worth it.