Two days after Indian-American actor Waris Ahluwalia was kicked off an Aeromexico flight for refusing to remove his turban, it seems that both parties have reached an amicable agreement.
Time magazine reports that an email sent from Aeromexico to the actor confirms that the airline has “issued a directive to its staff regarding the religious significance of the Sikh turban” and that it plans to ask the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the Mexican government implement sensitivity training on religious headwear for airport agents.
After receiving the email, Ahluwalia, who’d been staying in Mexico City until his demands over the situation had been met, will be heading back to New York on a flight today, says the Sikh Coalition, which is representing the actor.
According to Ahluwalia, he was pulled aside by security screeners on Monday while trying to board a flight to New York. He was then asked to take off his turban, which carries deep religious significance for Sikh men.
“At that point, I said the thing that I always say when I’ve been asked that before. I said, ‘I will not be taking my turban off here.”
Ahluwalia said he was then told by Aeromexico staff that he would not be boarding any Aeromexico plane and should arrange to fly with another airline.
He immediately posted a photo of his boarding pass to Instagram and recounted the experience, and word quickly spread on social media with users expressing their support. Within the hour, airline executives tracked him down at the airport and offered him a boarding pass for the next flight to New York.
“That was the moment I realized that if I didn’t say anything, if I didn’t do anything, if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone, that this could happen again to someone else,” he said. “And I couldn’t in good conscience get on that plane knowing that someone else would have to experience this.”
That night, Aeromexico issued a statement saying that it is “obliged to comply with the federal rules determined by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for inspecting selected passengers travelling to the United States.” However, as of 2010, U.S. guidelines no longer require air passengers to remove turbans if doing so makes them uncomfortable.
Since then, an agreement was worked out by lawyers for Aeromexico and the Sikh Coalition in New York that has prompted the airline to announce revisions to its security protocols.
Heading home this morning. Thank you @aeromexico_com for understanding the importance of… https://t.co/3gftrdReyt
— HOUSEofWARIS (@HOUSE_of_WARIS) February 10, 2016
Ahluwalia said he isn’t angry with Aeromexico or the agents who turned him away. “The only way to combat that is with love, it with tolerance, is with understanding and is with education.”