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SALDEF Travel Advisory Regarding Airport Security Screening


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Know What to Expect; Report Unfair or Inappropriate Treatment

Press release via email

In advance of the holiday travel season, SALDEF would like to remind you about your rights and the new TSA guidelines which may affect your travel experience. These procedures include new full-body screening machines installed at some major airports and more invasive full body pat-down searches implemented at all airports across the United States. SALDEF requests its members to report on their experiences with the full body scanners or pat-down searches at airports around the country.

What to Expect at the Airport

While most airports still only have metal detectors, an increasing number of airports now have Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines. The AIT machines are whole body imaging devices that are being rolled out to airports around the country.

Screening Options

Remember that you always have the following options:

1. A self-pat down of your turban
2. A pat-down of your turban by a TSA screener
3. Requesting a private screening (in a room outside of public view)

Even if you are not verbally given these options, you have the right to ask for them.

According to the TSA, regardless of whether a Sikh traveler clears the metal detector or the new AIT machine screening, they will still have to go through an additional procedure for screening their turban. During this second screening procedure, a Sikh traveler can perform a self-pat down of their own turban, receive a pat-down of their turban by a TSA screener, or request a private screening (in a room outside of public view).

Additionally, as part of a third screening procedure, a TSA screener will scan your turban with a metal detecting wand. This additional procedure will occur regardless of whether an alarm has been triggered.

If a traveler opts out of an AIT screening, they will be subjected to a new a more invasive full body pat-down by a TSA officer. If you are asked to undergo a full-body pat down, you always have the right to ask for this screening to occur in a private room.


To assist Sikh travelers in navigating the new security screening procedures, SALDEF encourages all travelers to read the following:
• What to Expect When Getting a New TSA Pat-Down
• Know Your Rights

Report Your Experience

SALDEF encourages community members to immediately report any incidents they have with the new pat down procedures, especially when you feel you have been subjected to unfair treatment or been racially profiled by TSA Officials.

Tell Us Your Experience - click here to report online.

SALDEF wishes its members safe travels, and hopes to hear from you about your experiences at airports around the country. Getting your stories and documenting your experiences will help us advocate for more reasonable measures that enhance airport security without compromising privacy rights and civil liberties.


Founded in 1996, SALDEF is the oldest Sikh American civil rights and educational organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the civil rights of Sikh Americans through advocacy, education, and media relations. SALDEF’s mission is to create a fostering environment in the United States for future generations of Sikh Americans.

Contact SALDEF

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
1413 K St, NW, 5th floor
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-393-2700
Fax: 202-318-3344
Web: www.saldef.org
Email: info@saldef.org