TSA defends handling of 'steampunk' watch

"From comments I’ve read on the web, some think we overreacted to a piece of steampunk art, while others understand why we would be concerned," Burns continued. "Is this watch dangerous? Not at all. However, we didn’t know that until the explosive detection team arrived and cleared the item. You see, when something is considered to be a potential deadly threat, it is protocol not to open the bag."

Steampunk describes a style that incorporates elements common in 19th century technology, often steam-powered, into items from other eras.

Burns used the incident to warn Thanksgiving holiday airline passengers to think about whether the items they are traveling with may trigger red flags for TSA. The AAA auto club has predicted that 3.1 million people will travel by airplane over the Thanksgiving holiday.

"Terrorists take everyday items and attempt to manipulate them to make improvised explosive devices. Our officers are trained to look for anomalies such as this one," Burns wrote. "Please take a moment to think about what you’re traveling with and how it might appear to TSA. I happen to think this watch is pretty cool, and I’m a fan of all kinds of art and homemade DIY gadgets, however, they’re not always the best things to travel with."

Burns said the watch in question was cleared by TSA, but local police officials at the Oakland airport decided to arrest the passenger.

Photo courtesy of TSA.