Update (2/10/16): Aeromexico has issued an apology to Waris Ahluwalia after he was barred from one of its flights for not removing his turban, reports the New York Daily News.
“We apologize to Mr. Waris Ahluwalia for the bad experience he had with one of our security elements in addressing your flight to New York in the Mexico City International Airport,” the airline wrote in a statement. “This case motivates us to ensure that security personnel strengthen its care protocols, always respecting the cultural and religious values of customers.”
Despite the apology, Ahluwalia has vowed to stay Mexico until the airline agrees to train its staff to better work with Sikhs and others who wear religious headwear.
See the original post from 2/8/16 below.
Waris Ahluwalia was reportedly banned from boarding a plane this morning because he refused to remove his turban in public. The stylish New Yorker, who designs jewelry for his label House of Waris and has starred in several Wes Anderson films, posted a selfie on Instagram this morning with the boarding pass for his missed flight from Mexico City to New York for Fashion Week.
The photo shows the letters "SSSS," which means he was chosen for a Secondary Security Screening Selection. Ahluwalia told the New York Daily News that airline security let everyone else board the 7:15 a.m. flight, but kept him back to search his bag, swab him and run their hands down the bottoms of his feet. Ahluwalia, who is Sikh and wears a turban daily, says that he is used to being chosen for these types of security measures, but when they asked him to remove his turban, it was a step too far.
"That is not something that I would do in public,” he told the news outlet. "That’s akin to asking someone to take off their clothes."
When he asked for a private screening room, he was told he would not be flying Aeromexico and needed to book a new flight.
Since posting the photo, Ahluwalia has received plenty of support from commenters. One user wrote, "This is outrageous. Sikhism is not even related in any way to terrorist extremists. What a sad day, a beautiful faith of love and peace in treated in such a horrible way."
Ahluwalia is hoping that this experience will be a learning opportunity, much like his feature in a 2013 Gap campaign. After becoming the first Sikh man to model for the company, many of the ads were defaced with racist graffiti. To show their support, Gap used his image on their social media sites.
"It was a big conversation about diversity that we needed to have," he told the Daily News. "And if you can take a hateful situation, and then have people respond with love and put more love into the world, you win."
Ahluwalia has refused to fly with Aeromexico again until they issue an apology and promise to train their staff on how to respectfully work with Sikh passengers.