Tuesday, February 23, 2016

@AskTSA Travel Tips In Over 140 Characters: Traveling While Wearing a Turban



The @AskTSA team received this tweet yesterday via @TSA and we’d like to take some time to address it on our blog.


TSA officers receive periodic training regarding cultural and religious sensitivities. When additional screening is needed that requires the removal of religious apparel, our officers offer private screening and request the passenger remove the item. 

In regard to this passenger’s turban, TSA officers were required to complete additional screening due to an explosives trace detection alarm The officers offered him private screening, which he accepted. In a private screening area, the passenger was asked to remove his turban and he complied. After determining that there was no threat, the passenger was allowed to put his turban back on and requested a mirror. As there was no mirror in the private screening room, he was advised of a restroom down the hall with mirrors.

The officers followed procedure correctly and the passenger was screened with respect. We have reached out to the passenger to discuss his concerns.

Current screening procedures for head coverings are in part based on discussions with representatives of the Sikh community. All members of the traveling public are allowed to wear head coverings (whether religious or otherwise) through security checkpoints. All persons wearing head coverings may be subject to additional security screening, which may include an officer-conducted or traveler self-conducted pat-down.

We do this to ensure that prohibited items or weapons are not concealed beneath any type of clothing and brought onto an aircraft. This policy covers all headwear and is not directed at any one particular item or group. We recommend that passengers remove non-formfitting headwear before proceeding through the security checkpoint, but recognize that passengers may be unable or unwilling to remove items for religious, medical, or other reasons. In that case, they should expect to undergo additional screening protocols.

Additionally, religious knives, swords and other objects are not permitted through the security checkpoint and must be packed in checked baggage. We recommend that passengers inform our officers if they have religious, cultural or ceremonial items that may require special handling.

The primary purpose of passenger screening is to prevent deadly or dangerous items from entering the secured area of an airport or onboard an aircraft. Our policies and procedures focus on ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity, respect and courtesy.

 From TSA.gov: If you are wearing head coverings, you may undergo additional security screening including a pat-down. A pat-down will be conducted by a TSA officer of the same gender. If an alarm cannot be resolved through a pat-down, you may ask to remove the head covering in a private screening area. We ask that you please inform our officers if you have religious, cultural and ceremonial items that require special handling.



If you’re scratching your head and wondering what @AskTSA is, it’s a small team of TSA professionals from various agency offices who answer TSA related questions from the traveling public that are sent via Twitter. You can read more about the program in this recent USA Today article.

You may also wish to consult with your airline about any policies they may have regarding the item (s) you’d like to travel with.

If you have any TSA related travel questions, please send a tweet to our @AskTSA team. They’re available to answer your questions, 8 a.m.- 10 p.m., Eastern Time, weekdays; 9 a.m. -7 p.m., weekends/holidays. 

Follow @TSA on Twitter and Instagram! 

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media Team

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

This passenger wasn't screened "with respect":

"@TSA Officer P....n by AA at MEM - My infant with cancer cant have a paci & you want to open & ruin food for her feeding tube?"

Susan Richart said...

I would suggest that anyone interested go to the AskTSA Twitter page and do some reading. It's exceptionally revelatory.

https://twitter.com/AskTSA/with_replies

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Susan Richart said...

Your readers might also find some interesting reading here:

http://tsanewsblog.com/

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

RB said...

Just another TSA attempt to cover up its abuse of travelers.

The terrorist TSA is looking for wear TSA uniforms!

Anonymous said...

Have your explosive trace detection tests ever found an actual explosive? Or is their false positive rate basically 100%, just like your naked body scanners?

Why do you use so much technology that does not work?

Susan Richart said...

"After determining that there was no threat, the passenger was allowed to put his turban back on and requested a mirror. As there was no mirror in the private screening room, he was advised of a restroom down the hall with mirrors."

You conveniently forgot to add this to your story, Bob:

"But when he asked for a mirror to put the turban back on, security directed him to a public washroom at the other side of the terminal, he said. That forced him to walk through the airport without the sacred religious headpiece.

"It's an embarrassing and really insensitive ordeal," he said, calling it like asking someone to remove their underwear in public."

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Anonymous said...

You should have mirrors in your private screening booths

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Have your explosive trace detection tests ever found an actual explosive? Or is their false positive rate basically 100%, just like your naked body scanners?

Why do you use so much technology that does not work?

February 24, 2016 at 8:53 AM
----------------------------------------
I would like to know the answer to this too. It seems alarms on these tests just lead to incidents like this or unnecessary invasive patdowns. While the test can detect explosives, it only seems to catch people who used the wrong soap that day. It leads to a "Boy Who Cried Wolf" scenario. The screeners aren't going to take a real alarm seriously after so many false alarms.

Anonymous said...

For many months this blog has been nothing but a forum for misleading blotter posts intended to scare people. Why the sudden flurry of (dishonest) postings about current tsa practices?

Fix the TSA said...

Bob, you wrote, "... the passenger was asked to remove his turban".

Then you wrote, "All members of the traveling public are allowed to wear head coverings (whether religious or otherwise) through security checkpoints. All persons wearing head coverings may be subject to additional security screening, which may include an officer-conducted or traveler self-conducted pat-down."

You say he had to remove his turban, then just a few sentences later say he could wear his turban.

You say there could be a patdown, but you never mention there could be removal of the headwear itself.

Why not?

I remember reading a blog comment a while back where a Jewish man had to remove his yarmulke or kippah when going through the screening area.

The conclusion the American public must draw is that people are not allowed to wear headwear through screening areas, despite your assertions that they can.

Do you see the problem?

Fix the TSA said...

West,

It is good to see you stepping up the frequency of comment approval. Three times in four days is quite a change from once or twice per week.

Alka Sood said...

If it's a private screening room where passengers have to remove articles of their clothing, it makes sense to have a mirror in that room so they can properly put those articles of clothing back on. Use common sense here please.

Anonymous said...

Meh..... TSA using the TSA blog to tell the TSA side of the story. Thank you for sharing but I will have to side with the passenger on this one, the TSA did not act in any way respectful towards this man.

Anonymous said...

West and Bob, given Susan's post, are you going to update your blog post to indicate that the passenger did NOT feel that he was treated with respect?

The truth said...

It's funny how you cut the story short after saying he asked for a mirror. Smart move by not adding that they didn't give him one. If that isn't disrespect then I don't know what is. Maybe you should try writing the full story next time and not forget major parts.

aiy said...

Just another TSA attempt to cover up its abuse of travelers.

Anonymous said...

Is sfo a tsa airport or is it private contractors? the contractors that would take over without tsa?

Anonymous said...

Give the man a mirror. Treat everyone how you want to be treated. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

honestly if you guys have the "authority" to ask a passenger to take off something so sacred and holy as a religious garment, you should AT LEAST provide a mirror in the private area for the passenger to put it back on in the proper religious manner as they need/want to do so!

Amitoj Singh said...

There should be some sort of uniform airport protocols at least made similar across the world. My turban was disrespectfully profiled at Mumbai Airport in India. My experience in the US has been fine for the most part.

Anonymous said...

This passenger was not treated with respect. If the TSA had respect, they would have provided a mirror within the screening room. Not providing the mirror is akin to forcing a woman to put on her shirt in public. It is a matter of personal dignity. A turban for Sikhs and many South Asians is a symbol of individual sovereignty and dignity.

Anonymous said...

I see "ask TSA' but I do not see the Tsa with any STRAGHT {sp} answers Why is that?

emmanuel said...

I think all airport security staff should have basic training about attires of different countries and respect religious sentiments.
If checking seems absolutely necessary they should ask with respect and if the person refuses then they should consider his reasoning.

Anonymous said...

The TSA showed a clear lack of respect during this incident and failed to acknowledge their mistake and apologize for it. I am appalled by this behavior. The TSA needs to be trained on how to properly handle a similar situation in the future so that an incident like this does not happen again.