Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nipple ring search procedures faulty, TSA admits

Apparently a woman, Mandi Hamlin, recently had an embarrassing incident in airport security screening. She has several body piercings, including nipple rings, which set off the metal detectors in the airport screening. The TSA officials forced her to remove the nipple rings so they could inspect them and determine that she isn't a dangerous terrorist. Geez.

I have metal rods in my legs and almost every time I go through screening the metal detector goes off, giving me a detour into the area for extra screening. I can sympathize with the lady. It's not the nicest place to go regardless that usually the TSA agents are very friendly, respectful, helpful, and considerate.

Quote:
"Ms. Hamlin did not want to remove her nipple piercings," Allred said, reading from a letter she sent TSA. "After nipple rings are inserted, the skin can often heal around the piercing and the rings can be extremely difficult and painful to remove. In addition, once removed, the pierced skin may close up almost immediately, making it difficult and painful to reinsert the piercing."

More officers were called over, and the group grew to four male and two female TSA officers, according to Hamlin. Also, a small crowd of onlookers had started to gather. The officers insisted that Hamlin remove the nipple rings...Had she been told that she had a right to a pat-down, she would have chosen that option.

What usually happens to me is a "pat down", though this does vary from officer to officer. Because in my case my metal is buried inside my legs it's impossible to remove the metal, giving them no option to request, as they did for this woman, to directly inspect the metal.

The TSA Travel Assistant has guidelines on traversing the airport screening with the least pain. The key is "dress the part", which means wearing clothes and shoes which are most easily removed for screening, to not wear jewelry or piercings, etc. So they would tell Ms. Hamlin to remove her nipple rings before travel and reinsert them after travel. However the article says:

Quote:
"After nipple rings are inserted, the skin can often heal around the piercing and the rings can be extremely difficult and painful to remove. In addition, once removed, the pierced skin may close up almost immediately, making it difficult and painful to reinsert the piercing."

This implies nipple rings are in the same category as the rods in my legs. They are essentially nonremovable and it's best if the TSA learns to accomodate these accessories.

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