Holiday season is upon us, and weird stuffing recipes, rambling stories from drunken uncles, ugly sweaters, and fights at big-box stores over this year’s hottest toy aren’t the only perils on our clients’ minds. Many piercees are concerned that their piercing(s) will set off a metal detector in an airport or other venue.
Stories of friends—or friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends—being stopped abound, usually along the lines of, “I was flying out of LAX, and my 00gauge Prince Albert set off the metal detector. I got pulled aside and had to pull my junk out for the TSA guard.” Although this is a great conversation starter at Christmas parties (or plotline for an adult film), people worry about it more than it actually happens.
Many heavily pierced people will tell you with all honesty that they have traveled extensively without as much as a single beep. In general, a few piercings usually do not pose a threat of setting off an alarm. Security metal detectors are used to look for dangerous objects: guns, explosives, ninja stars, tweezers, etc.—items that contain lead, nickel and iron. Quality metal body jewelry, made from implant-grade stainless steel, is non-ferromagnetic and does not set off the large walk-through metal detectors.
According to the TSA, piercings are not prohibited. You may not want to wear or carry long spike-style jewelry during travel, however, as these are sometimes construed as weapons and may be confiscated. Spikes aside, you should not be compelled to remove body jewelry, since it isn’t a security threat. But if you really don’t want to have to explain your piercing(s), your best option would be to remove the jewelry before you get there.