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US allows visual inspections of nipple rings

TSA ditches pliers after Texas airport piercing rumpus

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The US's Transportation Security Administration has announced some good news for aficionados of nipple piercings - they will no longer have to remove them with pliers before boarding internal flights.

The policy review came shortly after 37-year-old Mandi Hamlin fell foul of a handheld metal detector in Lubbock, Texas, while trying to catch a plane to Dallas on 24 February. The device sucessfully detected two jub accessories, and Hamlin was ordered to remove them.

She was whisked behind a curtain and while the first piercing - a metal bar - slipped out without protest, her nipple ring proved a little more stubborn. Hamlin was quickly reduced to tears and, when handed a pair of pliers to dislodge the offending metalwork, claimed she heard "male TSA agents snicker as she took out the ring".

Cue the obligatory press conference and demands for an apology, although the TSA claimed its operatives "properly followed procedures in that incident" and further supported "the thoroughness of the Officers involved as they were acting to protect the passengers and crews of the flights departing Lubbock that day".

However, the TSA late last week updated its statement to read: "TSA has reviewed the procedures themselves and agrees that they need to be changed. In the future TSA will inform passengers that they have the option to resolve the alarm through a visual inspection of the article in lieu of removing the item in question.

"TSA acknowledges that our procedures caused difficulty for the passenger involved and regrets the situation in which she found herself. We appreciate her raising awareness on this issue and we are changing the procedures to ensure that this does not happen again."

In celebration of this attack of good sense, we at El Reg have had a quick whip-round and will offer a hearty night in our favourite hostelry to the first male reader who turns up at Lubbock bearing a "Prince Albert" and demands a visual inspection. Watch this space. ®

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