Tales of TSA Tomfoolery

AirfareWatchdog: Look, we all know that folks at the Transportation Security Administration have a tough job, they're there to protect us, and all that. But they could probably do a better job. Judging from recent events, it seems they think the real threat to national security isn't, say, a shifty businessman scamming his way onto a transcontinental Virgin Atlantic flight using a stolen and expired boarding pass (for the wrong date and flight, no less), as Nigerian national Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi did just a few weeks back (amazingly, law enforcement stopped him but let him go, only to arrest him when he pulled the same stunt on a subsequent flight).

No, the real danger comes from people like Jean Weber's 95 year-old, wheelchair-bound, Depends-wearing mother, who, just a few days before Noibi's joyride, attempted to board a plane from Florida to Michigan to see her family, perhaps for the last time before possibly dying of leukemia.

Agents in New York couldn't be bothered to read the boarding pass of a man that had no business boarding a plane to California, but their counterparts at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport had all the time in the world to ruin the day of a very old, very frail and frightened woman, pulling her aside for 45 minutes of additional screening and forcing her to remove her undergarments.

When it comes to the TSA, one thing's for sure – they sure have no idea how to get the traveling public to like them. Since their creation in 2001, barely a week goes by that we don't hear yet another tale of agency dysfunction – often of the most hilarious kind. Here are ten memorable stories from recent years.

#1 DIPLOMACY IN ACTION Meera Shankar is India's ambassador to the United States. Shankar was invited to Jackson, Mississippi as a guest of Mississippi State University, where she met with Mississippi's Lieutenant Governor and gave a speech. As a souvenir, she took home an unhappy memory. While passing through security on her way out of town, Shankar was pulled aside for a very thorough -- and, despite her requests for privacy -- a very public pat down. Agents told the media afterwards that Shankar was singled out due to the fact that she was wearing a sari. Isn't that what all the terrorists wear? No? A shaken Shankar told her hosts that her first visit was probably going to be her last.

#2 THE CASE OF THE MYSTERIOUS NIPPLE RING When you head for the metal detector, maybe you want to remove your body armor. At least that's what Mandi Hamlin discovered, when she tried to board a plane out of Lubbock, Texas back in 2008. After metal was detected in her chest area, an agent informed her that if she wanted to get on the flight, she'd have to remove whatever was going on underneath her clothing. Which happened, by the way, to be nipple piercings. Hamlin requested a visual check, but the agent refused, instead handing her a pair of pliers. So she could remove the piercings. From her breasts. In the middle of the airport.

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