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Fashion designer Waris Ahluwalia blocked from flight because of turban

He posted about AeroMexico’s decision on Instagram Monday morning.


Mary Emily O'Hara


You probably know Waris Ahluwalia from his Gap ad, in which the handsome Indian-American Sikh posed while wearing a traditional turban. Or maybe you recognize him from a string of Wes Anderson films like The Darjeeling Limited, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

But today, Ahluwalia isn’t making news for his fashion line, House of Waris, or his smoldering presence on Hollywood’s hottest red carpets. 

This morning, Ahluwalia took a selfie with his plane ticket: an AeroMexico flight he was supposed to board from Mexico City to New York. But as Ahluwalia posted on Instagram, he wasn’t allowed to board the flight, and he said the reason given was his turban.

The photo quickly spread to Twitter as well, with supporters tweeting at the airline about the incident.

The Indian-American designer would like an apology from AeroMexico, Sikh awareness training instituted for airport security, and a training on how to screen passengers with religious headwear, according to the tweet.

“At this point,” he told the Post: 

“I realize that this isn’t about my convenience or getting home for lunch today. I realize that if I walk away, somebody else was going to go through this experience again… It doesn’t feel like a choice I can make. I don’t think I can just get on that plane.”

Update 9:26am CT, Feb. 9: A publicist for AeroMexico issued a second statement to The Daily Dot:

In relation to the incident that occurred at the Mexico City International Airport this morning, which has been reported by different media, Aeromexico reaffirms its commitment to transport all customers regardless of their race, religion or gender.

However, the carrier must comply with all federal requirements established by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration Agency (TSA) for screening passengers on U.S. bound international flights. 

The airline regrets the inconveniences the other customers may have experienced with the application of these procedures.

Update 9:16pm CT, Feb. 9:  The airline has released this official statement on the matter:

Aeromexico is a global airline that operates flights in different countries throughout the world, and proudly embraces and recognizes the diversity of its passengers. Every day we work to ensure strict compliance with the highest safety standards while we respect and value the culture and beliefs of our customers.

We apologize to Mr. Waris Ahluwalia for the unfortunate experience he encountered with one of our security guards during the boarding process on his flight to New York at the Mexico City International Airport.

This incident inspires us to make sure that our safety personnel strengthens its customer service protocols, with full respect for the cultural and religious values of our customers.

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