The Worst TSA Debacles of the Year (So Far)


The Transportation Security Administration has written itself quite the storied history, especially after they took up more “aggressive” pat-down techniques and full-body scans last fall. Hundred of disturbed flyers later and we’re all still annoyed and perhaps even slightly irradiated.

A Tennessee woman was arrested yesterday, after protesting her daughter’s potential groping at the hands of grabby TSA agents. And even though the TSA has taken steps to make sure they get you on your way without feeling molested, the mother had at least some reason to throw her fit. Flip through some of the more egregious missteps the TSA has made just this year above.

Working for the TSA generally means you’re using an abundance of caution to keep dangerous people away from transit. The kind of caution that defies common sense and decency. So they went after a 95-year-old final stage leukemia patient and forced her to take off her adult diaper for a pat down. Because that’s not demeaning at all.

Who pats down a baby? Maybe they were trying to set a record. We must truly be living in a sick time for a baby stroller—or diaper?—to set off the explosives alarm.

Two TSA managed to steal more than $160,000 from passengers passing through Kennedy Airport in NYC. And they did it using those infamous scanners, inspecting for easy cash. They got caught, of course, and charged with grand larceny. But it’s the fact that they swiped so much that’s so shocking.

Passengers getting off their train in Savannah, GA were alarmed to find the TSA ready to give them the welcome home treatment, equipped with rubber gloves and a confused sense of duty. And all this after the trip had already ended instead of the normal pre-trip touching. Among those searched was this 9-year-old boy. Needless to say, people were many shades of pissed.

By the time this video surfaced, recording the TSA all but tickle people’s nether regions had become standard practice. But, like the scan of the young boy earlier, this was just too much. Because really. Is My Little Pony some kind of red flag? It took incidents like this for the TSA to retool its guidelines for inspecting children.

Susie Castillo, a model former Miss USA, posted this video just after being patted down at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. She opted out of going through the full body scanner, which instead resulted in her being, well, felt up by the TSA agent assigned to her. “To say that I felt invaded is an understatement,” she said. “What bothered me most was when she ran the back of her hands down my behind, felt around my breasts, and even came in contact with my vagina!” This is insanity.

At least this story has a happy-ish ending. 29-year-old Drew Mandy happens to be mentally challenged, and he took his favorite plastic hammer with him on a trip to Disney World with his family. When the TSA took him aside for a pat down, they deemed it necessary to take that hammer away. You see, it could be used as a weapon. Mandy’s father was forced to throw the toy away rather than miss their flight. Thankfully his mother had a spare.

But after a pointed letter was sent, the TSA made a quick apology and has tried to make amends by changing their policies regarding people with mental disabilities. And that’s the point, isn’t it? As clumsy and sadistic as they can seem, most of the TSA’s blunders are from men and women trying to do their jobs. It’s just too bad so much has to go wrong before anything goes right.

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