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; 9a.m. - 7p.m.,weekends/holidays.
TSA Social Media Team