No Nipple Piercings On Flights?

So about a zillion people have written me about how the TSA has banned — at least in one ill-advised case — people wearing nipple rings from flying in America. Because, what, terrorists are planning on using exploding nipple rings? (Photo c/o Enrikay). Obviously this is a screener over-stepping their authority and abusing their power, rather than an official TSA mandate, but I think it illustrates both that the prejudice against even basic piercings is still strong, and that one of the strong arguments not to give any unwarranted powers to the government is that individuals always will abuse that power, even if the government itself is in theory “good”.


It also reminds me that the BME newsfeed has been sorely neglected over the last while — entirely my fault — despite the continued efforts of Ania and others. I’m pleased to say that Ania will be taking over managing the newsfeed, so over the next couple weeks, watch for regular updates (perhaps “this week in Mod News” or something) on what’s going on. IAM members, as always, can submit news here.

Update: The TSA has refused to apologize and stated that the above was in accordance with official policy, although they say they’ll be updating the policy to allow people to simply show their piercings rather than being forced to remove them.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

90 thoughts on “No Nipple Piercings On Flights?

  1. yeah i havent heard about that one either? does anyne know where i can read that article?

  2. ill have to try to remember that submission page, i see stuff once in a while!
    as for the nipple thing, thats gotta be bs! jewelry doesnt even set off detectors (from my experience anyways) so why would they say no nipple jewelry?! ive never had my crotch bling set off anything, and theyve never even known its there!

  3. uhhh… how would they even know you have nipple rings? the jewelry shouldn’t be setting off metal detectors. strip searching everybody now?

  4. A comment I will happily steal from the link you provided:

    If god had not meant me to pierce myself then why did he give me nipples?

  5. It’s worth noting that this story involves a hand held metal detector. I’ve walked through hundreds of gateway-style detectors and never set one off, but I did have a nipple ring set off a hand held model at the Oakland airport in the pre 9/11 era.

    Even before the TSA era, airport employees seemed under-trained and with a penchant for getting off on humiliating people during the inescapable security process. Now they’re even more under-trained and even more over-empowered.

  6. I travel a couple of times a year and I’ve been taken out of line every time I’ve flown. My large gauge metal jewelery has never set off the hand-held metal detectors…this still makes me nervous as hell.

  7. Whenever I get the pat-down and they’re right about at my crotch, I like to say, “Mmm, you have strong hands.”

  8. A friend of mine was issued a type of card saying he contained metal (he shot himself through the hand while we were in the army – bit of a klutz) to present to metal detector points (mostly airport, but anywhere really). It’s kind of a tricky thing in both cases – should you be needed to flash your nipples if they’re pierced? Kind of rude, but then on the other hand you could conceal a metal object and just say “my nipples/nuts are pierced” – same with my friend though he was wand raped every time he went through – the card was just to say “his hand will beep – it’s just like that”. Forcing them to be taken out is just insane of course, but then no matter how this turns out, I doubt they’ll do it again and perhaps it’ll bring some good attention to this matter.

  9. In Portugal a government party wants to pass a law that regulates piercings, who can get them and where.

    First, they want to make it illegal for anyone under 18 to get tattooed, pierced or permanent makeup, even with parents consentment.
    Second, and most worrying, they want to ban certain piercing no matter how old you are, alleging they are a matter of public health: tongue and genital piercings, or other places near blood vessels, nerves and muscles, as well as silver and gold covered piercings.

    They also want to make the tattoo artist make the client read and sign a paper where he tells all the procedures and riscs involved, wich they’ll have to keep for 5 years.

    The penalty for not obbeying the law will go from 1490€ up to 44890€.

    What the hell is wrong with these people?

  10. The thing that gets me is that they made her take them out–one was just a barbell, so that was easy, but the other was a CBR, apparently. She said she couldn’t take it out without a tool; they handed her a pair of garden-variety pliers. Great situation, no?

  11. Yikes… my family doesn’t know my nipples are pierced. Let’s hope I never run into something like this while flying with them, or I’m in for a hell of a time.

  12. haha i’m so used to beeing stopped in those metal controls.
    I simply lift up my arms and walk left,away from the que.
    But then,they see me doing that..they know i’m expecting it and don’t have anything to hide.

    they say ” allright,remove all metal objects from your pockets.”
    When it still beeps…well. Not very hard to figure why.

    However,a loophole for all you guys out there…
    Titanium and in even further extention PTFE plastic or acrylic for example don’t create magnetic fields in large quantities or even not at all.
    So,use these items instead and just fly and be happy.

  13. I had set off a metal detector in the House of Parliament with my navel a few weeks ago. First I thought it was my belt bucket that set it off but others had those as well and could walk through without a problem. I got checked with the hand-held detector and when it started beeping the guard was like “What’s there?” I said: “Navel piercing.” He didn’t say anything just stood out of my way. It was funny.

  14. PixiETroll, you have to have implant grade titanium, as lower grades may contain types of metal that are magnetic. I think titanium can still be caught by the wand though, maybe. I also believe that implant grade steel should not set off metal detectors as it should not be magnetic as well. I also think they are starting to introduce different types of metal detectors that aren’t based off magnetic fields but of densities of materials going through them (that might be how the wands work) so you couldn’t escape those.

    I don’t understand why they wanded her twice as she got through the first one fine. I also thought it was funny in the article I read about it, it said that often skin grows onto the jewelry making it terribly painful to remove… haha.

  15. America IS fucking retarded. That’s why I’m going to France this summer. …except America might not let me leave because I have microdermals on my chest. Is it really just nipple piercings? how specific are they? either way, that’s totally ridiculous and doesn’t sound legal. However, I live in Santa Cruz, Ca, USA and they just made it illegal to have BLANKETS outside after about 11pm to attack the homeless people in the area. I hate our government.

  16. I think this is just the start of things to come. I don’t know why they are targeting nipples but I think when airports start using biometric systems properly they will ban facial modifications all together.

    I wear a titanium bar in my right nipple and I’ve never set the detectors off in any airport. Aside from the fact they want you to virtually strip off these days the only metal on my person would be my piercings…so maybe PiXiETroll is right! In any case, I’m sure someone would create a work around lol.

  17. The last time I was on an airplane was 2005, I was going to Mexico from New York with a changeover in Chicago. My lobes are stretched to over an inch and I am visibly tattooed. Most of my piercings are under my clothes. Surprisingly enough, I was totally ignored at every check point (including customs) but my little brother… who is about as straight laced and “normal” (aka boring) looking as they come, was strip-searched at every location. It seemed to make sense… wouldn’t a terrorist want to blend in as much as possible?

    Besides, the people they are looking for are Islam zealots… I doubt people with such a strict interpretation of the Koran would have body piercings.

  18. Pingback: Hacen quitar los piercings de los pezones a una pasajera de un vuelo de Texas | Noticias, WTF, en Gran Angular Blog

  19. this sounds like one really unfortunate incident at one airport. i wouldn’t say anybody is targeting nipple piercings or even piercings in general until somebody can show me this sort of incident has happened multiple times. nonetheless, my sympathy is with the woman. truly unnecessary and frankly harmful.

  20. A bit pointless considering that half the people on here could smuggle enough semtex up their ass or verjayjay to take down an A380…

    Fuck them. I’m replacing all my Ti and acrylic with IRON. That’ll teach the bitches. You want me to take my boxers off after my sweaty ass has been trapped on a plane for twelve hours? Fine…Your loss.


  21. Bendtheglass: trust me, France is equally retarded. Maybe not in ridiculous laws, but the general view on modifications is so conservative…

  22. I hate going through passport control it sucks, you’re treated like cattle. When I was flying home from Mexico a few years ago they made everyone take off their shoes before boarding the plane. When it came to searching the bags it was done by hand, you had to walk up to a table, open the bag yourself and step back…then two security people went through your bags with a fine tooth comb and you were not allowed to touch them after that. This is the best airport security I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately some places in Europe like Greece have very poor airport security, but the Canary Islands has the butches female security guards ever, they’re mean and they shout at you like your an escaped convict or something.

  23. If it comes down to getting wanded, setting off the metal detector and opting to not show one’s privates, what can TSA do? It’s retarded, but they don’t know what’s there unless they check. How about metal detector-safe piercings?

  24. cere – If it is anything like the UK, they’ll just bitch about government, immigration, pollution, environment, social dogma, social reform, the poor, the rich, the normal, the extreme…But never do anything about it.


  25. That’s ridiculous and disgusting. I’m so tired of TSA and Homeland Security over-stepping their boundaries. Makes me sick. I’m happy to be an American… but unhappy with my country in a LOT of ways.

  26. i just want to say that these “I hate America” comments are ludicris. its not americas fault, its the tsa. they are the ones we should be getting up in arms about. not America. also, i agree with rob. :)

  27. Btw, how much metal does it take to set these things off? I recently got through security with 1 8ga. ring, 4 10ga. bbs, and 2 12ga. bbs, all steel, all in one…ahh…region. More metal than a coin-pocket full of change. Thought for sure I’d set off the alarm but didn’t.

  28. The boyfriend’s nipple ring didn’t set off any metal detectors on our recent trip to Vegas, and he’s got a titanium arm bone, to boot.

    Mine (before I retired them) did set off a wand detector in Orange County, but I think the security lady assumed it was the underwire in my bra.

    Either way, the events described in this story are ridiculous.

  29. thats a very pretty girl with some lovely boobies,
    This is rather silly its just a piece of jewelry you wouldnt ban bracelets.

  30. I heard that, it made me so mad! Like I’m going to get out of my chair in the middle of the flight and beat another dude to death with my nipples? Come on now.

  31. a couple years ago i was “randomly selected” for a pat down at an airport. the wand beeped over my nipples i told the the guy and he felt to check. then the wand beeped over my apadravya and i got a wierd look from the guy. i told him what it was and offered to show him. he declined and aske dthat i go into a room, remove it and come back out to rewand the area. he never actually saw the barbell in my had. it could have been a nail file stashed in my penis

  32. Nail file stashed in a penis? That sounds uncomfortable. I never set off any metal detectors at airports with my jewelry. The thing that got me the most was:

    “After nipple rings are inserted, the skin can often heal around the piercing, and the rings can be extremely difficult and painful to remove,”

    Yeah, if you wear cheap shit for jewelry. Great, more piercing rumors that closed minded idiots will focus on and refuse to listen to the facts. I hope that poor woman takes legal action.

  33. #17 “…places near blood vessels, nerves and muscles…”

    Doesn’t that make any possible place?

  34. I have a friend who had some serious deviation of her column (not sure was it an accident or congenital, she never told me the details) and has some sort of metal support (she claims it is made out of platinum but it seems a very heavy and expensive metal to use so I assume she might had missunderstood that but anyway it is made of some metal) and she did set up a metal detector in a bank a few mounths ago. Despite having a very clear scar running from about the base of the nape to as low as one can see with her pants on and explaineing very clearly about having had an operation she was not let in by the idiot ward. I wonder how whould she be treated by similar persons in an airport… Ah, yes, I understand she changed bank now…

  35. Damn, and I thought it was bad over here; I spent an hour trying to explain to a french security gaurd that, no, my smiley piercing is not coming out! Knives stashed in a smiley anyone?

    I’ve been ‘randomly selected’ for searches the last 6 times I’ve been on planes, not suspicious at all, eh?

    #17- Seriously?! Do they honestly think that’s going to work? All that’ll do is force people to go to illegal studios

    Gotta say, I think that guy has some of the best facial tattoos I’ve ever seen, they’re stunning!

  36. ha, whatever. honestly if my nipple barbells set off an alarm, I’ll just lift up my shirt, say “see?” and walk on. If my navel never set off a metal detector in a court house, I think I’ll be fine at the airport.

  37. The TSA is just an illusion of security that’s all. They are given the authority to do pretty much anything, of course there are going to be the assholes that abuse it. How is taking off my sandals or my wife taking off her fucking flip-flops supposed to make flying ANY safer, I still haven’t gotten an answer to that from the TSA when I fly. That woman was violated because the majority of Americans have been pussified by the constant perceived threat of terrorist attack (thanks to the “liberal” media talking about “eminent attack this and eminent attack that”), that they have actually allowed the government to have more controls and the rest of us to have less freedoms. It’s sad because if that lady does decide to sue, she will probably lose because the definitions for things are so broad and vague, the govt. will win because “the jewelry could be sharpened and used as a knife” or some dumb shit like that.


  38. We should just ban humans from flying, humans are the terrorists and its just too dangerous to let them board planes. Problem solved!

  39. i was horrified when i read the article about her treatment at the airport. i’ve never had that problem before going through security, and i have the same piercings.

  40. I’m so glad I live in Finland. I did beep once at those bigger devices, but it was because of the steel in my boots/my belt buckle. I wasn’t even scanned, they hand patted me and away I went (I have quite a few facial piercings).

    I am however possibly moving to study in the U.S. and this thing makes me feel really hesitant to do so. Hope the woman sues.

  41. I thought it was the conservative media that was pushing homeland security and all that bullshit fear mongering.

    I don’t want to advertise non-BME material, but this is somewhat on topic and I think worth the watch. Everyone (I literally mean everyone) needs to Google for a movie called “Zeitgeist”. Its about 2 and a half hours long, and well worth the watch.

  42. I used to work for the TSA. Its been a couple years since I quit but they wouldn’t ask anybody to remove piercings to board a flight. That must have been a screener being an ass. I Had many guys come through with nipple piercings and I would just pat the area and send them on their way. I had a 4g PA at the time and it never alarmed, but the hand held ones are very sensitive and alarm on anything. The only thing I ever asked a guy to show me was a large keloided spiral scarification on his back, which was really nice.

  43. what i dont understand is why she complied with everything. i would have demanded to see higher-ups.

  44. I flew internationally in and out of the US two weeks ago. My nipples are pierced, and this is not the first time I have flown with them in. They have never set off the metal detector, and I have never been questioned. This just seems like an unfortunate case of power abuse.

  45. This sounds like one asshat TSA officer overstepping their bounds, which truly sucks ass, rather than an official policy. Definitely worth seeing how this comes out, though. I fly, on average, at least twice a year, and have never had a problem, even when I did get hand-wanded two weeks after 9/11/01.

  46. in Australia for most holidays e.g. Christmas, the security sections in the airports crank it up, including sensitivity in the metal detectors, so that everything gets picked up. Hah! you’d think that they always turn it up, rather than have it less powerful at other times of the year, terrorists don’t want to ruin their easters!

  47. First I just want to say that picture reminds me of the very first Dave Chappelle Show episode: “C’mon Titty!!!!!” Just the look on his face is priceless.

    Second: Regarding Metal Detectors, I’ve had numerous implant grade metal jewelry in my body and set of metal detectors…If memory serves me correctly the metal detectors have settings…It was shortly after 9/11 when I travelled and set the alarms off though…Since then I’ve had no trouble…But yeah I set off alarms A LOT during that time, in Canada and the West Indies and even in the USA….I even had to show the security working the metal detectors,etc in Barbados, my nipple piercings….His comment: “Ooooh Sexy”

    TSA Banning Nipple Piercings: I think if they’re going to suggest that then they need to suggest banning ALL piercings on flights…As nipple piercings are no different then ear lobes, lips, eyebrows, genitals, navels,etc,etc,etc.

    But as we all know that’s a STUPID idea…However one can suggest that for the “sake of safety” said individuals who set of alarms (piercings or not) could be subject to further “investigation/inspection”…Thus meaning if you have a piercing that’s covered and you set of the detectors,etc you could be asked to reveal/remove said item either publicly or privately.

  48. jonnycore: Why is this person CONSTANTLY setting of the metal detectors yet has no visible metals on their person? This week on Border Security, following Zoo! And then later Flying Doctors and then Surf Patrol! ;P

    speaking of which needless to say I walked into this country with needles, receiving tubes, body jewelry,etc without even being searched.

    Customs: “Do you have anything to declare?”

    Me: “I got clothes, small amount of work supplies…”

    Custom: “What do you do?”

    Me: “I’m a body piercer heading up to Darwin NT to work.”

    Custom: “Ok pass through”

  49. Reminds me of a trip I took through Belgium once upon a time. I ended up getting a fairly through search and when the wand got below my belt I had to explain why it was beeping. The security guard was intrigued when I explained about my p.a., and even more so when I told him what it was called. His response, “Prince Albert? We used to have one of those, but he’s king now.” He did ask to see the piercing, but more from personal curiosity than anything else.
    #17 — It seems strange that Portugal would contemplate such a radical disconnect from Spanish legislation on body modification. You might consider getting involved with the government if they’re still in the drafting stage of the bill. The gov’t here was quite open to professional opinions. Contact me if you would like more info or a copy of current Spanish legislation. (

  50. I was flying out of columbus Ohio to JFK in October and I kept setting off the metal detectors (I had a tin of lip gloss in my hoodie pocket that I forgot about. So they wanded me, and of course I too beeped over my breasts because I have nipple piercings and they told me I’d have to remove them.

    I’d never removed them before and they were going to give me pliers and I’m just like, I can’t do that. so then they told me I’d have to show them to a TSA agent so they knew I wasn’t hiding something.

    So then I went into a room with two female agents and had to show them.
    Sorta embarrassing, but I was really afraid they weren’t going to let me fly if I didn’t show them.

    So after I showed them they said okay and let me go.

    I read that lady’s story on CNN and was totally like the same thing happened to me!

  51. i went to the Bahamas last year with my nipples, genitals, and ears done/stretched, and i didn’t set off any metal detectors, or get bothered.

  52. As the owner of relatively new nipple piercings, it made me upset when I read this story yesterday; if I had been that woman, I would have been unimaginably pissed off. It’s a good thing I don’t plan to give the airlines any of my money anytime in the near future :)

  53. and I forgot to address #17′s statement:

    1) I don’t have a problem if a government makes it law that its illegal for a studio to perform work on people under the age of 18, currently quite a few states in America have the same exact law…And also many studios in North America are tied into that situation due to insurance policies on the shops,etc.

    2) Banning certain piercings regardless of age, that I have to say is not cool in my books…If someone wants their genitals pierced they should be allowed to do so. However this makes me wonder based on that statement if its just biased opinion or if Portugal is actually having health related problems on that front….I suspect it to be a biased opinion though.

    3) Please refine what you mean when you say: “silver and gold covered piercings”…Silver should not be used in a fresh piercing. It should either be ASTM F-138 Stainless Steel or ASTM F-136 Titanium…For gold it should be 18ct and nickel free ideally….If you’re referring to “plated” or “coated” materials like Gold Plating, Zircon Gold or Blackline PVD coatings,etc I do personally believe none of that stuff should be used in fresh piercings nowadays.

    4) Tattoo Artists and Piercing Artists SHOULD make clients read and sign waivers and keep them for a minimum of 5 years if not longer. For a studio to provide the type of services we provide and not make the clients sign any release/waivers, its fundamentally wrong.

  54. #46- a friend of mine is a lawyer in california and he says that the girl is going to sue them. I think she’s very smart in taking legal action. It is so ridiculous that shit like this happens. I know that I would personally never take out any of my piercings for them including my nipple rings. Especially when they treat you like that. I guess I won’t be flying any time soon.

  55. It took me a while to explain to security at Sydney Airport that the microdermals in my arm were not going to come out. Asking them how much they like blood swayed them in the end.

    It is slightly worrying though that they’re in such a visible place (I have 4 on the back of my wrist). Flying into the US in October could be more fun that I’d planned.

  56. #73 that’s great news. This has to be one of the most ridiculous piercing-related stories I’ve ever heard. Seriously, wtf?? What’s wrong with them?? Gah I hate people…

  57. I have not come across these issues and I have traveled out of the country within the past year. Is this for all metals? I wear ti. I would guess that it has to do with material mass and how sensitive the machine is. What about implants? I can’t wait for someone to implant a knife, gun, bullet or like. hmmmm bullet implants…

  58. The nipple ring forced removal story is on CNN now. Interesting to see the attention – maybe some will find out private area piercings are more common than they thought.

  59. This happened to me not too long ago flying out of Denver. I was with my parents, trying to catch a red eye flight back to Boston, totally not sketchy at all. I set off the metal detector and then of course beeped everywhere when they wanded me. So, they told me to go into a locked room, remove every piercing from my body, including my nipples and PA, as well as all visible piercings (ridiculous!) and then I’d have to go all the way back through security. If I set nothing off that time around, they’d let me through. This was naturally ridiculous, but I had to get on the plane and so I had no choice. As a result, I lost my nipple piercings which were pretty new at the time, despite my best efforts to shove them back in in the airport bathroom.

  60. #72 Warren, there is a fair amount of current research which suggests that PVD is actually a superior implant material than “regular” CP2 titanium. As such, I can’t understant why you’d be opposed to its use in a fresh piercing. Apart from that, I’m with you 100%.

  61. Wow… banning nipple rings on American flights. I just got my nipples pierced not with rings but with barbells either way its fucked up. Mine have not gone off in the metal detectors so far and iv been on 4 flights. I know if they tried to make me take out my nipple piercings they I would definitly sue them. I feel like its my own right to have whatever kind of rings/piercings I want… why dont they ban earrings too? I mean they surely have more metal then nipple rings.

    Its bullshit.

  62. I flew from Colorado to Louisiana last month, and I didn’t have any problems…but I perhaps almost did.I went through security and i didn’t set anything off, and the screening guy looked at me and said he thought I would have set it off.I suppose I was maybe just lucky.I have little 14ga barbells in my nipples and have never had a problem-yet.I am wondering how much metal it takes to get pulled a side and harrassed….

  63. i’ve flewn to vegas from vancouver a few times in the past 6 years of having nipple bars, it’s never been a problem for me.

  64. Everyone should have to fly naked. No place to hide weapons. (Unless you’re determined) :D

  65. i don’t understand how they even knew she was pierced without her having to volunteer the info. i have gone through airports with cbrs in both nipples, navel jewelry, and various ear piercings and never set anything off…

  66. #72) Please refine what you mean when you say: “silver and gold covered piercings”

    I was freely translating the news. I guess it refers to plated/coated piercings.

    Some of those measures are just plain dumb and hopefully they’ll never pass it as a law, it’s just a bunch of tight ass government morons trying to show some work.
    I also agree with the plated/coated materials being prohibited, and that everyone should be aware of the risks and procedure involved, but some of those other things are not logical and goes to a society with further less freedom of speech. The government wants to legislate our bodies.

  67. well the guy seems to enjoy it.. ^^ but really when are they supposed to stop, soon enough they’ll stop taking passengers because it’s too dangerous…

  68. When I flew to Lithuania to meet my girlfriend, nobody asked about my nipple piercings, and the scanners didn’t even notice them.

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