A Texas woman who said she was forced to remove a nipple ring with pliers in order to board an airplane has called for an apology by federal security agents and a civil rights investigation.
Mandi Hamlin, 37, said she was trying to board a flight from Lubbock to Dallas on Feb. 24 when she was scanned by a Transportation Security Administration agent after passing through a larger metal detector without problems.
The female TSA agent used a handheld detector that beeped when it passed in front of Hamlin’s chest, the Dallas-area resident said. Hamlin said she told the woman she was wearing nipple piercings. The agent then called over her male colleagues, one of whom said she would have to remove the jewellery, Hamlin said.
Hamlin said she could not remove them and asked whether she could instead display her pierced breasts in private to the female agent. But several other male officers told her she could not board her flight until the jewellery was out, she said.
She was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring. Still crying, she informed the TSA officer that she could not remove it without the help of pliers, and the officer gave a pair to her.
She said she heard male TSA agents snickering as she took out the ring. She was scanned again and was allowed to board even though she still was wearing a belly button ring. TSA officials said they are investigating to see whether its policies were followed.