TSA Forces Woman To Remove Nipple Piercings

Your nipple piercings are a threat to national security. A Texas woman says she was in tears, and pain and left feeling humiliated after TSA employees made her remove her nipple piercings before being allowed to pass through security. In response, a TSA spokesman said that if an alarm goes off, “until that is resolved, we’re not going to let them go through the checkpoint, no matter what they’re wearing or where they’re wearing it.”

Woman Says TSA Forced Piercings Removal [AP] (Thanks to Benny!)


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  1. NDub says:

    Not really suprising.

  2. angelicsabyne says:

    I think this is really sad. As someone who also has body piercings, I shouldn’t have to worry about some TSA jerk on a power trip suddenly deciding that my nipple piercings have to come out for some asinine reason. Not to mention that what the article states about removing them can sometimes be true (depends on the type of piercing, really). They can sometimes be uncomfortable to remove, and for most people, having a piercing without jewelry in it causes it to close relatively quickly.

    Just when one thinks the TSA can’t go much lower…oy.

  3. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    Gloria Allred… sheeyit…

  4. Nicholai says:

    “or where they’re wearing it.”

    This has the potential to go horribly wrong.

  5. Um…stainless steel shouldn’t set off the detectors. Otherwise all of my friends would have to get to airports an additional 2 hours early. I wonder what she was wearing…

  6. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Granted it might be easy to make up a policy based on body jewelry that doesn’t involve removing it, but who leaves metal jewelry in when they know they have to go through a metal detector? You can remove the metal jewelry and put in plastic replacements for travel. If it really causes you pain to remove it, it must be causing you pain to wear it. I just don’t see why anyone needs to be allowed to keep their metal jewelry on when going through a metal detector. It wastes everyone’s time when they have to take you aside and wand you or take you to a private room to view the jewelry. Maybe the women working for the TSA doesn’t want to stare at your private parts just so you can fly with your body piercings in. This really just seems to be a case of someone not realizing that their body jewelry will set off the metal detector.

  7. WasabiJoe says:

    I’m more interested in how they even found out, the article says she passed through the larger scanner with no issues so why was she suddenly picked for a more through search?

    Still, that’s pretty demeaning and if they let her pass with a belly button piercings I don’t see why they would FORCE her to remove her nipple piercings. Another TSA horror story to be sure. I wonder if the TSA would have even bothered had it been an appropriate male appendage piercing.

  8. skipjack says:

    I really don’t blame them for their policy.

    How in the world would the woman have known her piercing’s would set off an alarm? It obviously wouldn’t be advertised on the TSA’s website, and as someone who has piercings…it would never cross my mind to remove them.

    However, if they needed to be removed…even the most sensitive ones…could easily be removed. It’s never safe if a piece of metal grafts to your skin. Perhaps her piercer didn’t inform her of the possible problems if your body began to attach to the piercing?

  9. WasabiJoe says:

    Well, the article says the skin tends to grow around the piercings and that’s why she needed pliers to get the second one out. I guess her body was used to it so it hurt more to rip out the skin and put in plastic than to just leave it in. I also wonder if this lady has had any problems at other airports?

  10. Ailu says:

    Nipple piercings? Ouch!!!

  11. utensil42 says:

    If this had happened to me, I don’t think I would take them out. I’d tell them I’m not boarding the plane, please retrieve my baggage, I’ll take a train. I don’t HAVE to fly. It hurts like hell to take out a nipple piercing, I’ve had to for MRIs. And no, this does not mean there’s something wrong with them–they don’t hurt in day to day life, they’re not infected, I take care of them, and I see a doctor every 3 months to check on them. It just means you have a piece of steel through a very sensitive body part. How would it feel if you had to remove a piece of steel from your penis? Yeah. That said, stainless steel will not set off the metal detectors so there’s really no reason she should have to take them out to pass security.

  12. Moosehawk says:

    I bet you feel really cool having them. You must be really popular and stuff.

  13. PhilR8 says:

    This isn’t really an option for everyone, but my advice is: just don’t fly. I don’t plan on flying again until the TSA retards are better trained, or (even better) are removed altogether.

  14. Mollyg says:

    From a longer version of the AP article:
    “‘Our security officers are well-trained to screen individuals with body piercings in sensitive areas with dignity and respect while ensuring a high level of security,’ the agency said in a statement.”

    I love it when the official statements directly contradict the facts. It is obvious that the officers were not well-trained to treat people with dignity and respect.


  15. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    I get the feeling from reading the article that if all the TAS screeners had been women, she wouldn’t have been asked to remove the piercings. But instead, some jack ass male screeners wanted to see some tits. Booooooooooooo

  16. mienna says:

    I’m tired of hearing people bitching about airport screeners. They are trained to follow a book of standard operating procedures. They screen according to these procedures. If you don’t like the procedure, feel free to not fly. Or better yet, write the TSA administration with your complaints. Then write your congressperson. These are the people who can affect change in policies. Denigrating the workers as “retards” as some jackass above did is unfair to the VAST majority of screeners who do their jobs well. Not every person in every job is going to be a shining example of humanity’s progress, but to paint all screeners as mouth-breathing idiots shows your own ignorance.

  17. mienna says:

    @Lin-Z: Male screeners are not permitted to screen females at all and they are not even permitted to be present at a private screening of a female.

  18. MataHari says:

    I have a nipple piercing, it has never set off an alarm. But one time, closer to just after 9/11, the underwire in my bra set off the hand scanner. They pulled me aside a little to the area where they were checking a bunch of people and a female screener patted me down along my bra until they were assured it was just my bra and not some hidden weapon, I suppose.

    My partner also has large piercings in her ears that require pliers to remove and if anyone ever asked her to remove them at the airport, she would make a huge scene and we’d probably get arrested or something. I shudder to think what would happen if they asked me to remove my piercing.

  19. Tansis says:

    I’m sure the TSA is protecting us from the TX Terminators.

    + Watch video

  20. Mollyg says:

    @mienna: I think the problem was that the screeners were not following TSA procedures. There is no TSA directive that says people must remove piercings.

  21. So what happens to someone with a fresh piercing? You’re not supposed to remove the jewelry on a fresh piercing because the hole will close up.

  22. geoelectric says:

    In 2000, I flew cross-country for my high school reunion. My chest piercings didn’t set off the walk-through detector, but the wand caught them.

    I ended up getting felt up under the shirt (I’m a guy) by a 70+yo TSA “guard” in front of the crowd of people lined up for the plane. He wouldn’t just let me lift my shirt and show him, the bastard.

    And my piercings don’t come out. They’ve been in since I got them in ’99, and I’m pretty sure that removal would be semi-permanent.

  23. geoelectric says:

    D’oh. Reread that, and it must have been in 2002, when I flew out for another thing. No TSA in 2000.

    Anyway. I avoid flying now, almost categorically.

  24. “…until that is resolved, we’re not going to let them go through the checkpoint, no matter what they’re wearing or where they’re wearing it.”

    “Which is, I admit, a bit of a bummer for people with metal plates in their heads, but y’know, there could be a revolver under there or something. The TSA recommends you bring your own angle-grinder to help us remove your plate, on account of how you probably don’t want to touch one of the… communal… ones.”

  25. marike says:

    I get why I can’t bring large bottles of liquid in my carry-on luggage.

    I get why I have to take off my shoes.

    But having to remove body piercings when there’s an easy way to verify that they’re there? And absolutely harmless?

    I guess I don’t feel like other people’s body piercings are going to put me or anyone else traveling in danger. Oh nos – guy next to me has a piercing in his shlong…hralp!

  26. brs928 says:

    @SpiderJerusalem: Stainless steel will set off the detectors, but jewelry is usually a small enough amount that it isn’t detected.

  27. megan9039 says:

    I have my belly button done. I have flown on serval trips since 9/11 and never have I been pulled by the TSA or wanded/patted down so far. I wonder if there is more to the story….

  28. RandoX says:

    She’s old and gross anyway.

  29. Chols says:

    I forgot to take off my belt once. It didn’t go off.

  30. monkey33 says:

    I had my nipple piercings set off the wand at DFW. They requested that I take them out or not board, and I asked if I could just show them to the screeners. “We can’t ask you to do that”. “You don’t have to ask, I’m offering”. Got a private screening with two female staff members who were polite, and a little awed.

  31. Ilovemygeek says:

    I have a belly piercing and at one time had two belly piercings and I’ve never set off a metal detector. I was even wand screened once and nothing.

  32. qwickone says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: i never take my jewelry off when i go to the airport and i’ve never had any problems. FYI i wear 2 rings, a watch, and earrings.

  33. econobiker says:

    @Chols: Depends on what sensitivity the walk through scanner is set to. I had a metal Cross brand pen clipped to my shirt collar. In my home airport of Nashville (an area hosting about 5,000 former Iraqi Kurds) the walk through went off. I tried this again on purpose for my flight from the return airport (which will remain un-named) and walked through with no problem, no trip…

  34. Saboth says:

    “Sir…SIR…calm down. I know you broke your arm in 19 places, but until you remove those screws and rods, you are NOT flying today. Rules are rules. Now…where is that hacksaw?”



    This happened to me with an eyebrow piercing way before TSA abuse became the norm. The abuser was Delta (out of Hartsfield) – I was flying on a buddy pass and my eyebrow ring didn’t fit their dress code.

    People always ask me “why didn’t you just put a bandaid on it?” … the answer is because a) I didn’t know it was an issue in advance and b) once the guy at ticketing saw it, he wouldn’t let me cover it up. He refused to issue my boarding pass until I removed it.

    (I had never removed it in the two years I’d had it. It bled. Then I really needed a bandaid.)

    Needless to say, by the time I got to San Francisco, it had already started healing up. I had no way to sterilize the jewelry but forced it through anyway because I am obviously hard-core.

    Two weeks later, I woke up to a pink, puffy eyebrow. Thanks, Delta!

  36. jamar0303 says:

    The current TSA should really be dumped. That, or we import better, more professional people from other countries to work security. America seems to be the only country with this issue.

  37. CRNewsom says:

    @monkey33: Seems like you were reasonable, and they treated you well because of it. However, there are many other instances where people try to be reasonable with the TSA only to find they are talking to a robot trained to follow only what’s written in the training manual, and not put any thought into their job.

  38. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    Couldn’t she have just put ’em on the glass?

    @marike: You’re ahead of me, I can’t figure out the liquid thing.

  39. CRNewsom says:

    @jamar0303: The most efficient airport security I have seen was in China. Everyone gets scanned with the wand, and they seem to know what they’re doing much more than the TSA. No taking off your shoes, walking through the metal detector four times, or any of the other fun activities the TSA has us do here.

    I here Isreal has real nice security people as well.

  40. backbroken says:

    @utensil42: “How would it feel if you had to remove a piece of steel from your penis?”

    Um…I would not put a piece of steel in my penis.

  41. monkey33 says:

    @CRNewsom: Very true. I know that the TSA folks can be both reasonable professionals or jerks with a badge; I’ve been very lucky when flying and usually get nice, friendly, professional screeners. I also fly out of Kansas City normally, and they have private security that beats the TSA every day.

  42. mgy says:

    @backbroken: I at least wouldn’t wear it into an airport, and on to an uncomfortable airplane.

    All of you Prince Charles’ out there are on a different level of thought than I am I guess. Jesus that looks scary.

  43. This makes me extremely glad my surgical screw has never set off the metal detectors at an airport.

  44. levenhopper says:

    @CRNewsom: Israel has IMO the best security in the world. Their security agents are trained to profile people based on how they are acting (tone of voice, how the stand, etc…). It’s all quick, painless, and very efficient.

  45. textilesdiva says:

    I leave my jewelry in. Metal detectors have varying sensitivity thresholds, and most are set to ignore tiny amounts of metal (and from a friend with a MASSIVE amount of steel in his groin, apparently, they can customize those settings according to body regions, as well. Courthouse, sporting events, and airports – we both go through with almost no problems caused by jewelry).

    The only time my piercings have even been noticed by the TSA was when my heavy, steel, locked necklace set off the detector at Ohare (the only one it’s ever set off), and when I told them the only way it COULD come off right then was with bolt cutters, they did a wand screening, and that’s when they found the piercings.

    And the TSA agent who did that was gloriously polite – I didn’t need to be re-assured that my nipple piercings were perfectly normal, but she kept on about how I shouldn’t feel embarassed.

    You also can only know to put in plastic ahead of time. I am not alone in saying ‘oh fuck no. I’m not putting in a retainer right here at security’. In addition to privacy, there’s sanitation, and in my case, nerves – I’d rather my piercer do it. And if all the research you’ve done indicates there’s absolutely no need, why would you? I checked with the TSA, the airline, talked to friends with even more piercings than I have, and took the chance to go through two metal detectors in my city (hockey game and courthouse) before traveling.

    You’re grossly misinformed about piercings. Maybe ya ought to go get one or two. Make ’em count ;-)

  46. brewmonkey says:

    Whats more humiliating? The TSA forcing you to remove your piercings or announcing it to the whole world?

  47. Doofio says:

    Jesus Christ people. I get so tired of these people who like to “test the waters” just to see how far they can go and then bitch and whine when they get challenged.

    Everyone knows the state of security these days, especially in airports. They know that their will be a screening process and they KNOW that there will be metal detectors involved.

    So what does this person do? She knowingly wears peircings that have a very high chance of setting off alarms then bitches when they ask her to remove them. Just another cut and dry case of someone knowing a rule, trying to act defiant by ignoring it, getting caught and bitching about it. There’s absolutely zero reason she needed to have those things on during her flight and she could have easily just removed them before even going to the airport. This reminds me of those people that try and sneak food into a movie theatre, get caught, and then complain about being caught for breaking a rule that they knew they were breaking.

    If you don’t like a rule, fine. If you disagree with a rule, fine. If you want to see if you can bypass a rule, fine. If you get caught, you have no right to whine about it.

  48. erratapage says:


    I’m a little surprised you think that airport screeners are so much da bomb. I gotta tell ya… I’m an unassuming 40 year old white woman who probably resembles most of their mothers, and I’m treated like total crap when I go through security. I get yelled at ALL the time. It’s like they take joy in making grown women cry.

    Nothing in my life makes me feel like an insecure boob like going through airport security.

  49. textilesdiva says:

    @Doofio: Except…piercings aren’t typically an issue. Well, standard gauge ones. And no, there aren’t rules against keeping in your piercings. At least, not publicly available ones that pierced travelers can reference before traveling.

    The fact that you say there’s zero reason she needed to have them in shows that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Stick to commenting on issues about which you are fully informed (or at least not so clearly in the dark), maybe?

  50. mduser says:

    I have yet to set off the detector, but they’re going to be sorry if they tell me to remove my piercing (prince albert)

  51. etherealclarity says:

    @Doofio: Except it isn’t a rule.

  52. Mr. Gunn says:

    skipjack: The question is whether of not the screener actually followed policy.

    Since you can request a pat-down and wanding instead, clearly they didn’t do it right.

  53. Mr. Gunn says:

    Doofio: No one was testing any waters. If you’d bother to RTFA before knee-jerk blaming the victim, you’d see that she’s had them in for years. Also, it’s not their policy that you have to remove them. Somebody fucked up, as occasionally happens in top-down bureaucracies, and they need to figure out why, and apologize for humiliating the poor woman.

  54. Mr. Gunn says:

    monkey33: That’s right. They can’t ask or offer. You have to specifically and clearly ask, and even then they might not understand the rules, so you have to hope for the best.

    or, just not fucking fly in protest at how goddamn ridiculous the whole security theater charade has become.

  55. GearheadGeek says:

    All of this crap makes me think it would be worth it to get my ASEL current and never fly commercial again.

  56. sassypizzazz says:

    @Doofio: I can’t see how anyone could consider this a reasonable response to the situation. Yes, if you wear metal to an airport then you should be prepared to set off the detectors and be subjected to a secondary search. That’s true. I wear my wedding ring and a watch and I’m prepared for that same possibility.

    However, once the secondary search has been completed and the cause of the alarm has been identified, that should be the close of the issue. There was no safety issue that this woman was causing by having pierced nipples. The fact that they let her continue with a belly button piercing proves how completely arbitrary their thought process was in this situation.

    I think people like you have lost perspective on what exactly these screeners are supposed to be accomplishing.

  57. unklegwar says:

    Tomorrow, woman detained and forced to remove genital piercings.

    Hey, you gotta take off rings, watches, earrings, etc etc. Be smart, don’t wear your nipple bars to the airport. Are they just supposed to take her word that it’s ONLY nipple piercings?

  58. textilesdiva says:

    @unklegwar: Something called common sense.
    …Admittedly, it’s never really been a priority requirement for government jobs.

  59. Falconfire says:

    Last week I experenced two sides of the TSA. I have a CPAP machine and when I left from Newark to Orlando, I had the case opened but the machine wasn’t removed, and I asked “Is this ok?”

    “Sure, we dont need it taken out unless its a laptop, it can remain in the case as long as it’s open.” Now this came from a supervisor and not the agents doing the checks.

    Coming back I did the same thing. I got pulled aside by the Orlando TSA and treated like I was a criminal. The guy said to me “Dont you know your supposed to take that out, what did you think you where doing?”

    “Its funny you said that sir, because your equivalent supervisor in Newark would be saying the same thing to YOU, since he was the one who told me only laptops need to be removed and I didnt even need to open my case like I did for you.”

    Didnt stop him from swabbing my CPAP machine for bomb materials, but he didnt talk to me like I was a idiot the rest of the time either. Going through forms about bringing CPAP machines through have shown me the same thing happens often, by policy they are not supposed to be treating it like its a laptop, but in practice depending on the airport your flying out of, the ones that tend to not be busy also tend to be much more invasive on their searches, and tend to violate TSA policy.

  60. alexiso says:

    I have my nipple pierced and when I flew with my family I took it out. They don’t know about it and I didn’t need TSA to tell them about it either. It’s not the end of the world to take it out.
    If you’re so upset about having to remove it then find 12G or 14G fishing line and thread it through the hole.

  61. chanelrs says:

    The problem isn’t with the policies or the victim. I don’t have any nipple piercings but I do hear that it hurts to take them out because your pulling and tugging on the piercing. And if the piercing is twisted on tight alot more tugging and pulling. Just like your ear if its on too tight you have to pull and tug and it hurts. Of course the screeners do need more trying because of new gadgets always coming out. The problem should be that there were men in the room while she was taking out her piercings. Why did they need to be there. As Concerned_Citizen said the female probably doesn’t want to see her body parts. But most men do. Don’t get mad at me for saying that. Its reality. And your right it is a waste of time to go to another room, but thats the way it is. How come we are allowed to leave rings on but have to take off piercings? This whole thing is ridiculous. What would happen if she had a clit piercing? Oh well.

  62. S-the-K says:

    Well, since the TSA agents are government union employees, nothing will come from it. The people responsible can’t be fired. Their bosses can’t even put a written reprimand in their file without getting a visit from union goons in response.

    The TSA should never have been unionized and nationalized. Once that happened, they’ve got a job for life no matter how badly they screw up or how many members of the public they offend.

  63. sassypizzazz says:

    I think the real lesson we’ve learned here is that Consumerist readers are a bunch of pierced mutants. ;-)

  64. bugsbenny36 says:

    All this poor woman was/is asking for is a simple apology.
    The fact is that the TSA has a reputation of overstepping their boundaries, and this seems to be the case here too. Making people remove their piercings, has no security implications and should not be tolerated, they’ve taken enough of our freedoms and liberties already! Enough is enough!

  65. textilesdiva says:

    @sassypizzazz: I’m not a mutant…just a pervert.

    And no matter who tries to claim otherwise, buttsecks and some S&M are not a threat to national security!

  66. Anitra says:

    “until that is resolved, we’re not going to let them go through the checkpoint, no matter what they’re wearing or where they’re wearing it.”

    Clearly against official policy. They don’t make people with metal surgical implants (screws, plates, etc) take them out (like that’s even possible). They are supposed to wand and/or pat-down the person if the metal isn’t removable – and underwire bras and piercings (for example) are not things you’re going to remove in public.

    How do I know this? My husband has a metal plate in his arm. The few times it has set off a metal detector, he clearly says what he suspects is setting off the detector and shows the scar on his arm. They can wand him to determine that’s the only metal he’s “wearing” if they don’t want to take his word for it.

  67. eury says:

    First off, you should be able to remove a piercing (if lubricated) easily unless it is a permanent piercing.

    Second off, for those who say she should have known better for wearing it, like anything in life, the longer you have a piercing the less you think about it as it becomes a part of you.

    Thirdly, I have flown probably 20 times with various piercing configurations and not once have I ever set off a metal detector.

    Finally, they do make almost all jewelry these days available in a PTFE (teflon) version that can contain 0% metal if you so please.

    I don’t like siding with the TSA but I think this is being made into a much bigger deal than it should be. If I am stopped by TSA and told to remove my piercings, I would gladly ask for a cup of water to act as lube and remove my piercing so that I can enjoy the service of flying.

  68. snoop-blog says:

    not a big deal. no metal means no metal. it’s not like women have never tried to use the boobs to help smuggle before so yeah it’s not unreasonable. but i do find it a bit strange that it would even set off a metal detector.

  69. snoop-blog says:

    the real question is: what’s more of a threat to our security? nipple piercings? or vagina piercings?

    cmon it could be anything down there…lol.

  70. MaliBoo Radley says:


    Hehe .. I believe you mean “Prince Albert” …. :)

  71. ohgoodness says:

    I have a septum piercing and it never goes off in airport security metal detectors. Something tells me it was her underwire that set the damn thing off. She didn’t need to inform them of her piercings. Just sayin.

  72. eury says:

    It might be pretty difficult though to remove this

  73. Some people that get piercings are afraid to remove them for various reasons. I think it’s unreasonable to ask every person who is pierced to remove it. Some people can do it, but not everyone has the guts to remove said piercings let alone even think about it. A friend of mine got hit by her clit piercing once but this was at a courthouse. She had to elaborate on the situation but it got resolved without her having to remove it.

    Besides, there are some risk factors for infection if you ask them to remove it in a non-sterile environment. Some people with pierces would probably do it, but not all.

    Anyway, I think that’s just a major nightmare to remove piercings from sensitive areas. They may have just asked her to remove it because of “standards” though. They only disguised it with “national security” >_>

  74. warf0x0r says:

    @Richard Garfinkel: No one with fresh piercings is fitted with anything beyond nickel or alloy which doesn’t set off alarms. If you have a pourous metal in your body it can cause infection. I personally am allergic to stainless steel (or rather the nickel in it) and use gold after alloy when I got piercings.


    I’ve had four piercings and traveled to South America and back and nothing happened. (post 9/11). If this girl had switched her piercings with ones made from other materials (which can be a bad idea depending on how long you’ve had them) that could have caused a problem. Typically you have nickel, gold, plastic, and alloy (niobium) based piercings. I’ve not seen any others, but its been a while since I’ve looked.

    Unless someone can post an article that says something like “TSA saves lives during random screening.” I’m going to say that their a goon squad.

    Feel free to inform me if I’m mistaken… and you have proof.

  75. DogTown says:

    “This really just seems to be a case of someone not realizing that their body jewelry will set off the metal detector”

    The bottom line here is once the nipples rings have been identified by the metal detector, what kind of a threat do they truly represent? I don’t believe they any more of a threat than the metal fillings in my teeth.
    At one point they were going to stop women with silicon breast implants from flying until it became clear that the stupidity of that action was not going to fly, so they stopped the requirement from be put into place.

  76. bbagdan says:

    Last time i flew i couldn’t remove my ring because my fingers were swollen for some reason. Security had no issue with this.

  77. @eury:
    Goddamn! That’s just insane in my eyes! I doubt it’d set off flags, but if it does…hopefully she can explain it. I don’t see it possible to remove it without the piercer his/herself.

    Must’ve been fairly painful. I guess now people will start trying innard organ piercings. Has anyone pierced a uvula?

  78. eury says:

    @超外人: The cervix piercing is the new uvula piercing!

    I think any body part that is freely accessible has to have been pierced by someone by now.

  79. crooshjef says:

    The jewelry probably hurt for her to remove because: a) it was the wrong size, b) she didnt have lubricant, and c) she probably had to use regular pliers, not a piercers multi tool or ring opening pliers for the job.

    I am a piercer. I’ve flown with brand new implants, both implant grade titanium and teflon. Its never been an issue, but I can imagine what it would have been if TSA decided to be jerks. At the end of April, the Association of Professional Piercers conference will be in Las Vegas. My guess is TSA in Vegas is prepared for the jewelry issue, especially now.

  80. scarletvirtue says:

    I’ve gone through with several ear – and one eyebrow (see avitar) – piercings, with no problems.

    As others have mentioned, occasionally my underwire bra will trigger the metal detectors. Otherwise, it’s all good.

    @超外人: I’ve seen the uvula piercings on BMEzine.com, as well as people that have gotten their eyelids, fingers and gums pierced. Why they do it, I don’t know. If it makes someone happy, more power to ’em.

  81. Red_Eye says:

    So WTF will they do with who has a head full of bullet fragments? Make her take out her fillings?

  82. TheSeeker says:

    I didn’t read anywhere if the TSA confiscated the jewelry. If not what was the point of having her remove it at all other than to humiliate her?

    If the jewelry was considered a danger, wasn’t it less of a danger in her nipple than in her hand…where she could try to attack someone with what…a stick of metal smaller that a matchstick?

  83. ironchef says:

    any clown with a prince albert deserves the extra hassle. The laughter is priceless!

  84. coraspartan says:

    Of course she was in pain…her nipples are pierced!


    Gah, just reading this story makes mine hurt. I can’t even imagine.

  85. Witera33it says:

    Actually, high quality jewelry shouldn’t ever set off a metal detector. Crap jewelry might. Crap jewelry also hurts to remove because the threads are on the post, not the ball. Threads on the post act like a cheese grater on the inside of the piercing. The industry standard is to have the threads(male end) on the ball. There should never be never be a need to switch to plastic for the sake of travel. There are, in fact, piercings that cannot be removed by any other means than a scalpel. What to do then?

  86. drjayphd says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: Sir Mix-A-Lot would rather kiss them than indo.

  87. BlackestRose says:

    This is not a question of safety. Common sense dictates that once the TSA employees identified someone as having body jewelry, they had ample alternatives to forcing her to remove them.

    This interaction is not about safety, but about social conformity and disapproval.

    (No, I don’t think there is a formal policy. However…)

    …the individuals involved in the removal probably look down on people who wear nipple rings, thinking them “deviant” and “inferior.” Therefore, any actions they undertook became justified.

    This is the insidious consequence we as a country and as a people, must divert. This imposition of one single standard of morality, over something so inconsequential as a nipple ring, shows hoe much our freedoms have been eroded.

  88. Witera33it says:

    @eury: ptfe is not suitable for long wear and needs to be replaced every couple of months because its actually degrades. Metal is the only way to go for health of the piercing. And water isn’t lube, only lube is.
    I don’t see anyone taking out their earrings! What is the difference, between an ear and a nipple that isn’t prurient.
    Perhaps I should bring this incident to the attention of the Association of Professional Piercers. Maybe they can have a polite conversation with TSA.

  89. drjayphd says:

    @超外人: As per scarletvirtue‘s comment: yes, they have:


    Want to see a really incomprehensible (read: how is that even possible?) piercing, look around there for smileys.

  90. jeff303 says:

    @sassypizzazz: Exactly. The goal shouldn’t be to keep metal off of planes. It should be to keep bombs, etc. off planes.

  91. nidolke says:

    If it went off on a metal plate in her head then I’d feel bad. But for a piece of metal she willingly had installed for shits and giggles, I can’t really be bothered to drudge up any sympathy.

  92. Raziel66 says:

    I’m shocked and amazed that people want a safe country and safe travel, yet they never like the steps taken to ensure that. Who the hell keeps metal on them when going through airport security? This idiot apparently.

  93. acousticdank says:

    If you actually read the article, you’d see she made it through the actual security metal detector. It was only after they randomly selected her to use the hand held detector that it was discovered. My belt never goes off in security, but if I get a spot check, the handheld will go off.

    This is for all of you who are saying “she should have taken it off before she went through” or “I never set off the detectors when I go through with my piercings.”

  94. tamoko says:

    I accidently carried a box cutter on a plane, TWICE, and only realized I had it when I was unpacking after the trip.

    The TSA is a joke, and the quality of secusity seems to vary emensely. Philadelphia International was lax, yet the realively tiny Portland OR airport was in ubersecurity, lockdown mode, with multiple peoples’ carry on luggage (including mine) being opened.

  95. katylostherart says:

    what are the chances they had her remove them and then just stick them in her pockets?

    they let her keep the belly button ring though. tsa are crap at everything.

  96. AlphaTeam says:

    TSA tries to follow everything verbose which is stupid.

    I rememeber bring a Swiss army knife and they confiscated and yelled at me for it, but the guys next to me had carried a knife of some sort onboard by accident.

    Dumbest security agency.

  97. Morgan says:

    @Raziel66: I think people might want actual safety rather than security theater. The piercings were no threat to anyone, and many people here have commented that they’ve gone through security with piercings with no problems.

  98. katylostherart says:

    @Raziel66: i’m sure you’d find it acceptable to wear earrings though right? most people don’t take those out and nipple rings and one set of plain hoop earrings contain about the same amount of metal, and quite often the same type. it’s not idiocy to keep piercings in considering the normally don’t set anything off. the few that i have have never set anything off. the rivets in our jeans don’t, the grommets in our shoes don’t. it’s not idiotic to expect that small jewelry items would be allowed to stay.

    tsa fucked this one up. you are returned your bracelets and watches and belts with metal buckles after passing through or being wanded. this was a level of ridiculousness that sounds pretty malicious. especially considering she kept the belly button ring in. why remove the ones in her breasts if the one in her abdomen was allowed to stay?

    doesn’t really add up does it? i don’t know what the making up for this should entail but apology sounds like the minimum.

  99. funkadelica says:

    I’m totally going topless next time I fly. Then they can clearly see that my nipple piercings are harmless and underwires will be a non-issue.

  100. andeonthemountain says:

    You know, TSA has become a total joke. I flew a year or so ago with two toddlers, and I used a ‘Canadian’ crutch to walk – the kind that has a cuff around your forearm. Not only did EVERYONE have to remove their shoes, but they took my crutch and put it through – in Alabama they even dismantled the crutch – and made me send my toddlers through alone, poured out sippy cups (we had been told at the beginning of the line that as long as they were opened and inspected, having water in them was no big deal – otherwise, we wouldn’t have wasted a $3 bottle of airport water), and wouldn’t even let us through the handicap guest line.
    I don’t know what I’d do if they ever asked me to remove my nose screw – those things are such a pain to remove because you have to bend the piercing just right… It takes me ages to switch mine out, and the retainers never seem to stay in.

  101. @eury:

    I should’ve figured someone must’ve already done it. I just think it’s very likely to get infected and accidentally set off the gag reflex very often especially when swallowing. Judging by how many people have done it, my suspicions are probably wrong.

    Anyway, I wonder how many of my friends will want to try the cervix piercing.

  102. TheSeeker says:

    Why are so many saying that the TSA should apologize? All we ever hear is that if so-and-so apologized things would be different/better. If the criminal had felt remorse or apologized for their crime, then the sentence/punishment would be adjusted accordingly.

    Forget that. The only ones who apologize are the ones who regret getting caught rather than regret what they have done.

    I’m sick of all the apology talk. The TSA employee or anyone should be punished, not made to apologize.
    They clearly did this because they have the “power” to do so. Idiots who can get real jobs now have power over all the people that wouldn’t hire their stupid @$$es!

    As Morrissey sings in “How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel”

    “…and as for you in your uniform
    your smelly uniform
    and so you think you can be rude to me
    because you wear a uniform
    a smelly uniform
    and so you think you can be rude to me
    but even I / as sick as I am
    I would never be you
    even I / as sick as I am
    I would never be you
    even I / sick and depraved
    a traveler to the grave
    I would never be you
    I would never be you”

  103. dizavin says:

    I find it hard to sympathize with the woman. it was her perogative to put the nipple peircings in and nobody elses. I would rather my safety be assured while flying than tolerate the “expressiveness” of other peoples private bits.

    I’ve had piercings and have tattos of my own, and you are well informed at the time when the procedure is done, of how taking out the piercings works and if it will hurt.

    this woman knew this. and in light of that, she still took her nipple piercings out in the boarding area behind a curtian because she valued the flight more than the pain she was about to feel and the embarrasment of having to undress in public.

    if that’s too much for you? cancel the flight, voice your complaint and take the damn bus instead. don’t just wimper onto the plane and then weasel in a complaint telling people that TSA “forced you” to take out your nipple rings. they didn’t force her to do anything. the security policy is crystal clear: if the alarms go off, the metal has to go. and if you’re not okay with that? pack up and go elsewhere.

    I’m getting sick of people claiming that they were “forced” to do something, when in reality they agreed to a policy and simply didn’t like it.

  104. TheWaffle says:

    My piercing is non ferrous, but I still wouldn’t want to remove it in public. I like to keep my pants on in the airport ;)

  105. BlackestRose says:

    For those who wish to throw the blame onto the woman involved think of these questions:

    Are the rules clearly stated?

    Many of us wear rings, bracelets and necklaces, without thinking of them as an impediment to getting on a plane. If they are flagged, we assume that simply showing them to the agents will be sufficient to allow us passage. Why would any one assume that nipples rings would be different?

    Why are the standards enforced so differently?

    Within the airport, between travelers and even in this situation on the body of the person in question, the “standards” are applied very differently. Heck, I can bring on my knitting needles which are far more deadly than any nipple ring!

    Should all non violent, non disruptive behavior that “deviates” from the norm be banned from flying?

    Clearly no one can argue that the tiny piece of metal was either disruptive (no one could see it from the outside) nor dangerous (many other tiny pieces have been let through). What about my underwire bra? Should I be expected to remove it if I wish to fly? I assure you, many women would be very put out should underwires be declared dangerous.

  106. rustyni says:

    Zomg Nipples!

    That’s odd. I’ve worn my belly button ring every single time I’ve flown, never set off any alarms, never got molested by TSA.

    So much for the “no matter what they’re wearing or where they’re wearing it” bullshit. TSA really needs to re-evaluate their training mechanisms, if they think raising flags and ringing bells over a nipple ring is necessary.

  107. TheSeeker says:

    @dizavin: “if the alarms go off, the metal has to go.”

    yes but where did the metal go…if it went into her pocket, what was accomplished! And why didn’t the belly jewelery have to go.

  108. @snoop-blog: cmon it could be anything down there…lol.

    Reminds me of a quote from Fear Effect 2: The Most Overhyped and Underwhelming Game Ever:

    [after seeing Hana’s party dress]
    Rain Qin: You’re going to wear that! Why don’t you just walk in there naked?
    Hana Tsu-Vachel: Don’t be silly… I’d only be able to hide one gun if I were naked.
    Rain Qin: Speaking of which don’t go waving them around in there… your guns that is…

    I hate myself for playing that game through to the end.

  109. scarletvirtue says:

    @Saboth: Actually, I’ve had a couple of friends with pins and/or rods in their bodies, and typically they have a physician’s statement for TSA or anyone else, basically stating that they have those things in their bones. Kind of a “don’t fuck with me, jackass” measure.

    @超外人: I saw the cervix piercing and it looks entirely too uncomfortable. Besides, why would I want to pierce that part of me, since it would only be seen by my OB/GYN?

  110. VikingP77 says:

    TSA is a JOKE!

  111. shepd says:

    a) You know (or should have known) that you will need to go through a metal detector to board an aircraft. This has been the case for several decades, well before any crazy terrorist action.

    b) Knowing (a) you decided to do something that would make (a) difficult or impossible.

    c) You are complaining… why? Hello personal responsibility!

    If you can’t remove the piercings that you chose to put on your body, you bear the ultimate consequences of your decision. You should have talked to your doctor about your decision and how it has now permanently affected your life (ie: You cannot go through metal detectors without setting them off now).

    Your doctor would have given you a note (and placed it in your medical file) that your personal decision has caused you to permanently have a piece of metal attached to your body that is not removable without extreme pain.

    You could now go through the metal detector, knowing that if you set it off, you could hand the TSA a note explaining the situation. You would have been treated the same way someone with a metal bolt or head plate would have been treated.

    Now, while I feel somewhat bad for people who, through no specific fault of their own, ends up “disabled”, someone who makes a personal decision that affects their lives and doesn’t take care of the issue before going to an airport will have problems. And, unless something was done glaringly wrong, will receive zero sympathy from me. I think the TSA acted appropriately considering they chose not to visit a doctor previously. The person could have refused, left the airport, and gotten the appropriate documentation. Instead they chose the more painful option: Another personal decision with unsurprising consequences.

    Hopefully this will serve as a lesson: Don’t hug personal responsibility toy without steel gloves.

    Sorry if I come off harsh, but I see this a lot…

  112. borednowtoo says:

    People with metal in their bodies for medical reasons usually have doctor’s notes. My father had a knee replacement and has a card the surgeon gave him to show the screeners. He’s was still flagged for further searches an absurd number of times because they didn’t like how much the wand beeped over his knee. One time he was screamed at a lot because he was too slow taking off his pants. It was loud enough I could easily hear it while waiting outside the screening room. What exactly do they expect of senior citizens? He’s obviously arthritic and setting no land speed records at anything.

    His travel wardrobe now involves bike shorts under sweatpants. Even in the dead of winter. He takes the sweatpants off before going through security and puts them on again after. They still wave the wand at his knee a lot. It’s also not a pretty sight for the spectators, but it has stopped him from being flagged for additional searches.

    The problem really isn’t the policy. Most of the nonsense he suffered was directly against every policy they have. Policies aren’t much good without properly trained people who follow them.

  113. patela says:

    What I have yet to see anyone (least of all the TSA) explain is WHY the piercing had to come out. Let’s go through this for a second.

    A person walks through the detector and it alarms. They tell her to empty her pockets, take off her belt, watch, visible jewelry, etc. It all comes out and off, and she still sets off the alarm, so they go over her with the wand. The only place the wand beeps is over her breasts so she explains that she has stainless steel nipple piercings. The agents asks to see them, and sure enough there they are. The agent can wave the wand over the piercing and get a beep, but doesn’t get a beep anywhere else, so the agent can be sure that the only metal on this person is at the nipple.

    Now, having determined this, WHY THE HELL DOES THE PIERCING HAVE TO COME OUT. Are we afraid that the woman is hiding metal weapons or bomb parts in her breasts and using the nipple piercings as cover? Or do we think that the piercings themselves may be bombs or weapons because they are unusual?

    I don’t care whether she should have taken the train or taken out the piercings at home or whatever. The point here is, once the TSA agent saw what they were, and saw that they were the object setting off the detector, the agent was done. The intent is to make sure that objects going on the plane are safe, not to make sure that all metal objects are removed from the person before they pass. We generally have people remove all metal objects because it is more efficient them wanding every single person and examining everything they are wearing or have in their pockets. But if you see the offending object and determine it’s not a weapon, then the job is done, right?

    Have we lost all sense of why we do this stuff? Where is the perspective here?

  114. parnote says:

    Ummm … pity the poor soul who has a prosthetic metal hip replacement! “They will not be allowed to pass through if the alarm goes off” … or some shit like that. Sorry ma’am … we’re going to have to cut off your leg before you can continue on your dream vacation.

  115. pyro789x says:

    Besides the fact that they have signs posted everywhere warning you that you will be forced to remove all metal objects, including jewelry, it’s also probably police to send customers through the metal detectors until it no longer goes off. They can’t simply take your word for it that it’s your nipple rings setting off the metal detectors, you could still be hiding a pocket knife in your body cavities.

    Bottom line, she knew the rules and shouldn’t be complaining. When I get to the metal detector I always check my various pockets for anything metal, and even some things that may not be metal, just so that I can get through the metal detector quickly and without issue. I just think this is something she should have been prepared for, and if not, she shouldn’t be making such a fuss about it.

  116. hmk says:

    This is stupid. My nipple (or any of my) piercings do not set off anything at the airport. However I would be unable to remove them myself without the openers I have at home (for the rings) or from the help of a piercer (for all the others). And none of my piercings hurt to wear and I don’t think they’d hurt to remove… But I believe the woman in that if I had to take my nipple piercings out with pliers, all by myself, I’m sure I’d hurt myself.

    I’ve flown many times with my piercings. What the hell? I side with the woman on this one.

  117. lemur says:

    It seems that in reaction to that incident the TSA has changed their
    policies on body piercings:


    Relevant passage:

    The TSA said Friday in a statement on its Web site that the officers properly followed procedures, but that the procedures must change. In the future passengers can either allow a visual inspection of their piercings, or remove them, the agency said.

  118. the_wiggle says:

    @MataHari: at least you weren’t told to take it off & hand it over if you wanted to get to the gate. asshole guard (male) made that little ultimatum at Sky Harbor *prior* to 9/11 when i was trying to pick up my husband who’d arrived on a red-eye.

    @Lin-Z: i quite agree.

    @bugsbenny36: damned straight but it’s only going to be getting worse, much worse, before it gets better. . . .

    @Witera33it: that prurient difference is likely why things got so ridiculously outta hand.god help her if she’d been pierced lower down as i’m sure those petty power tripping abusive asshats would have insisted on additional removals!

    apology her aching tatas. the scum should be pierced & then put thru the same bs she was.

  119. the_wiggle says:

    @levenhopper: as if the gov’t, airlines, TSA or whoever would spend the time & money to have real professionals like those.

    i wish!

  120. Skeptic says:

    by snoop-blog at 12:32 PM on 03/28/08 Reply
    the real question is: what’s more of a threat to our security? nipple piercings? or vagina piercings?

    Pretty sure nobody has a vagina piercing–pierced external genitalia, sure, but not a pierced vagina.

  121. Her Grace says:

    @Witera33it: Not strictly true. Bioplast/bioflex is a plastic designed for piercings (and medical implants, like the new kneecap I’ll eventually need). There are sourcing problems, as with stainless steel: a lot of places claim to be bioplast when they use ptfe (which can degrade, yes), similar to how a lot of places say they have stainless steel jewelry (when what you need is a surgical grade stainless–not enough consumers realize it comes in grades at all). But, real bioplast is autoclave-able, safe for new and healed piercings, and fine for permanent wear.

    I’m not a shill, I swear. I do have a nostril piercing that would have been long retired if not for my bioflex screw, though. I had terrible allergic reactions to every metal I tried, and that is a painful piercing to mess with and be changing the jewelry all the time.

  122. Amelie says:

    There’s no reason for any piercing to be removed. The TSA needs to concentrate on real problems – assuming that’s even possible – like people actually bringing guns on planes.

  123. dizavin says:


    where did the metal go? who knows. it can go in a bucket at the back of the plane, for all I care. these detectors are calibrated to pick up certain quantities of various metals that could be used as parts and components of malicious devices, as well as solid objects that could be used as weapons. her nipple rings set off the alarm. so then the rules were set in action: those bits of metal have to go.
    And when you have dozens of lives on your responsibility, every flight? I wouldn’t take any chances, either. and to make the laughable assumption that the airline could let it go, JUST this one time? or have an agent on hand to work out these little kinks? well hey, that can be your job cause I, for one, would refuse to take a job like that.

    the fact still remains that she was, in no way, forced to do ANYHTING. She agreed to the policy of removing the nipple rings because, to her, making the flight was worth more than her pride or self respect of staying clothed in public and now she’s looking for a hand-out. if she REALLY thought that taking her rings out would be a degrading and insulting act, she would have given the airline the one-finger salute, packed up her things, signed up with another mode of transportation and lobbied her case to get a refund.

    seriously. sometimes I think I’m the only sane person left, on the planet.

  124. dizavin says:

    @Skeptic: umm.. dude. I dated two women who had clitoris piercings.