Dear Supporter Ji,
On August 22, 2018, I walked through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) scanning machine at Richmond International Airport and was told by a TSA officer that both my body and turban required an additional pat-down.
I know my rights, so I told the officer that by law I am allowed to pat down my own turban. The officer denied my request, so I insisted on speaking to a supervisor. After 20 minutes detailing my rights to the TSA supervisor, I had my request denied again.
I had a work flight to catch that I couldn’t afford to miss, so I was forced to suffer the indignity of being secondarily screened and then having my turban patted down in front of everybody.
This should not have happened to me and this should never happen to you. As we head into the busiest travel week of the year, I urge you to download the Sikh Coalition’s TSA: Know Your Rights Guide. This recently updated resource has been vetted by the TSA and is compatible with every updated TSA screening procedure and regulation and it’s a critical resource for you to have before you travel. The resource is completely free to download and available in English and Punjabi.
After this incident, I knew that my rights had been violated so I also used the Sikh Coalition’s FlyRights smartphone application to directly file a complaint with the TSA. As a frequent traveler, I had this free app on my phone for emergencies, so I was able to easily file the complaint in real time.
After I filed the complaint using the Sikh Coalition’s FlyRights smartphone app, I received a phone call almost immediately from the TSA. A senior TSA official received the complaint and reviewed video footage of the incident. The TSA official apologized to me, acknowledged the officers were at fault and agreed they needed to be retrained.
I’m now working with the Sikh Coalition to make sure that the TSA officers undergo additional training at Richmond International Airport.
Before you travel, I urge you to download the Sikh Coalition’s TSA: Know Your Rights Guide and the FlyRights app. This way, if you encounter any problems you can immediately report them through the app.
No organization has done more to hold the TSA accountable than the Sikh Coalition. Thanks to their work over the last 17 years, they have dramatically improved TSA’s policies and empowered Sikh rights at airports nationwide. And, when problems still arise, they stand ready to take action on our behalf.
As we enter Thanksgiving week, I’m forever grateful that we have the Sikh Coalition as our insurance policy. I hope you will join me in donating to this outstanding organization today.
Jasmeet Singh Bhatia
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