Indian-American actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia has been barred from boarding a flight to the US after staff cast judgement on his turban.
The Grand Budapest Hotel star, who was en route to New York fashion week, was reportedly refused entry to an Aeromexico flight because he would not remove his religious headwear – an act that is seen as highly disrespectful within the sikh religion.
“This morning in Mexico City I was told I could not board my @aeromexico flight to NYC because of my turban,” wrote Ahluwalia on his Instagram account. He accompanied it with a picture of his boarding pass, which carried an “SSSS” stamp – an acronym for the airport’s “randomly” chosen Secondary Security Screening Selection.
The actor went on to post an image outside the airline’s customer service desks. “Dear NYC fashion week,” he wrote. “I may be a little late as @aeromexico won’t let me fly with a turban. Don’t start the show without me.”
13 hours later, he followed up with a final image while waiting to board another carrier. “Still in Mexico City. No traveler should be subjected to what I was today. All we're asking for from @aeromexico is an apology and education/training of the staff.”
Ahluwalia, who also runs jewellery design company House Of Waris, allegedly asked for a private screening room to be able to remove the turban in a more respectful way – though staff apparently refused. “It is not something that I would do in public,” he told the New York Daily News. “That’s akin to asking someone to take off their clothes.”
Despite being a flagrantly racist move from the airline, a press statement issued yesterday refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing. “We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused by this incident,” they said, before adding that they were simply obligated to follow “federal requirements in terms of security determined by the US Transportation Security Administration to review passengers.”