Flying While Sikh – Not on US Airways

A Sardar friend of mine once recounted his experiences flying soon after 9/11. He was flying within California to a small Central California city. Upon arriving he had to wait for his plane-side check-in luggage and the air-hostess joked that he was lucky to have flown at all. When he asked why, she told himus_airways_jetbridge.jpg that 2 customers had felt ‘uneasy’ with him on the plane and had they had a third complaint, he would not have been allowed to fly. He asked if he was flying with his three friends, could they report that they felt ‘uneasy’ if they saw a man with a cowboy hat. The air-hostess replied that – that would be a different situation.

It seems for 3 “eminent Sikh classical musicians” there situation was not much different than others that flew post 9/11. In a news report that is widely circulating in the Indian press, three Sikh musicians were on board to fly from Sacramento to Salt Lake City on US Airways were asked to deboard the plane after they had cleared proper TSA security clearances, at the whim of the pilot:

The incident occurred after Gulbag, Davinder, and Iqbal Singh cleared Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security and boarded US Airways flight no. 0493 on November 15th in Sacramento, California, on their way to Salt Lake City, Utah. The three were sitting together in the rear of the plane, in their assigned seats. After having been on the plane for approximately ten minutes, they were approached by one of the ticket-reception desk workers and asked to exit the plane. While none of the three adequately comprehend or speak English, the group complied and exited the aircraft. When it became apparent that the group was unable to converse with US Airways representatives, a Panjabi interpreter was called to assist.

The Panjabi interpreter informed Iqbal Singh, on behalf of the US Airways representatives, that the US Airways pilot for the plane was refusing to fly if they were onboard the aircraft. When Iqbal Singh asked why, the US Airways representatives were unable to give a clear answer, and the interpreter went on to persuade the three not to raise any objection because it could lead to more problems. The group, having become concerned, fearful, and worried about what had happened, took the only option they were given, which was to stay the night in a hotel and depart on a Delta Airlines flight the following morning to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Commenting on the discriminatory and publicly humiliating treatment, Gulbag Singh commented, “I would like to ask the average American to think about how they would feel if they were cleared by security, were sitting on their plane, and then were asked to leave for no good reason. It is ridiculous that a person should be submitted to such second class treatment.” (Translated from Panjabi)[link]

Unfortunately such occurrences are not isolated incidents and continue to occur. Such racial profiling should be condemned by all. Sikhs should be vigilant against such practices, when it occurs to them, or when it occurs against others.


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47 Responses to “Flying While Sikh – Not on US Airways”

  1. s singh says:

    Very sad. There is quite a dichotomy between the challenges Sikhs are facing in Canada and the US. In Canada it looks like we will be heading back to the oh so important issue regarding tables and chairs http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html…. Glad to see we have are priorities straight. Hopefully these youngsters will get it right and leave this can of worms closed!!

  2. s singh says:

    Very sad. There is quite a dichotomy between the challenges Sikhs are facing in Canada and the US. In Canada it looks like we will be heading back to the oh so important issue regarding tables and chairs http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html…. Glad to see we have are priorities straight. Hopefully these youngsters will get it right and leave this can of worms closed!!

  3. s singh says:

    Very sad. There is quite a dichotomy between the challenges Sikhs are facing in Canada and the US. In Canada it looks like we will be heading back to the oh so important issue regarding tables and chairs http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html…. Glad to see we have are priorities straight. Hopefully these youngsters will get it right and leave this can of worms closed!!

  4. s singh says:

    Very sad. There is quite a dichotomy between the challenges Sikhs are facing in Canada and the US. In Canada it looks like we will be heading back to the oh so important issue regarding tables and chairs http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=46c32acb-ab9f-4fda-be5f-3eb2787df942. Glad to see we have are priorities straight. Hopefully these youngsters will get it right and leave this can of worms closed!!

  5. […] Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim were subject to a pervasive and violent backlash. (As we reported earlier this week, Sikhs in America have been profiled in the airport setting.) Accordingly, with […]

  6. sizzle says:

    us airways is unequivocally the worst airline fathomable, so this doesn’t really surprise me.

  7. sizzle says:

    us airways is unequivocally the worst airline fathomable, so this doesn't really surprise me.

  8. sizzle says:

    us airways is unequivocally the worst airline fathomable, so this doesn’t really surprise me.

  9. sizzle says:

    us airways is unequivocally the worst airline fathomable, so this doesn’t really surprise me.

  10. BUCHANGI says:

    I see how indian authorities in USA will do nothing and not make a statement.

    I dont mean to go on about the same issues, but would the Khalistani Govt sit quite.

    Wouldn’t the khalistani consulate and embassy say something?????????????

  11. BUCHANGI says:

    I see how indian authorities in USA will do nothing and not make a statement.

    I dont mean to go on about the same issues, but would the Khalistani Govt sit quite.

    Wouldn’t the khalistani consulate and embassy say something?????????????

  12. BUCHANGI says:

    I see how indian authorities in USA will do nothing and not make a statement.

    I dont mean to go on about the same issues, but would the Khalistani Govt sit quite.

    Wouldn't the khalistani consulate and embassy say something?????????????

  13. BUCHANGI says:

    I see how indian authorities in USA will do nothing and not make a statement.

    I dont mean to go on about the same issues, but would the Khalistani Govt sit quite.

    Wouldn’t the khalistani consulate and embassy say something?????????????

  14. Jay Singh says:

    Even though the Sikhs have been targeted at various airports in this country, I am very disturbed by this news–US AIRWAYS refuses to fly Sikhs. If this is their policy, this airline should not be allowed to fly anyone! I hope FAA has something to say about this. Sue these bastards to bankruptcy!

  15. Jay Singh says:

    Even though the Sikhs have been targeted at various airports in this country, I am very disturbed by this news–US AIRWAYS refuses to fly Sikhs. If this is their policy, this airline should not be allowed to fly anyone! I hope FAA has something to say about this. Sue these bastards to bankruptcy!

  16. Jay Singh says:

    Even though the Sikhs have been targeted at various airports in this country, I am very disturbed by this news–US AIRWAYS refuses to fly Sikhs. If this is their policy, this airline should not be allowed to fly anyone! I hope FAA has something to say about this. Sue these bastards to bankruptcy!

  17. Jay Singh says:

    Even though the Sikhs have been targeted at various airports in this country, I am very disturbed by this news–US AIRWAYS refuses to fly Sikhs. If this is their policy, this airline should not be allowed to fly anyone! I hope FAA has something to say about this. Sue these bastards to bankruptcy!

  18. Jay Singh says:

    Indian government does not represent Sikhs. When was the last time, they supported the rights of the Sikhs.

  19. Jay Singh says:

    Indian government does not represent Sikhs. When was the last time, they supported the rights of the Sikhs.

  20. Jay Singh says:

    Indian government does not represent Sikhs. When was the last time, they supported the rights of the Sikhs.

  21. Jay Singh says:

    Indian government does not represent Sikhs. When was the last time, they supported the rights of the Sikhs.

  22. Jay says:

    As someone who is not Sikh but a resident of Sacramento (where this act of racism occurred), I'm disgusted, ashamed and angry. The pilot and those who "felt uneasy" enough to have these men thrown off the plane for no stated reason are clearly bigots. In addition, U.S. Airways' management are bigots if they condone this racism and don't publicly apologize and discipline the pilot. Anyone who sits by and doesn't speak out against this kind of primitive, ignorant, irrational and dangerous behavior is guilty of contributing to it. This story should be reported, investigated and paid much more attention to than it has been. It is an outrage that this kind of discrimination and persecution is still taking place.

  23. Jay says:

    As someone who is not Sikh but a resident of Sacramento (where this act of racism occurred), I’m disgusted, ashamed and angry. The pilot and those who “felt uneasy” enough to have these men thrown off the plane for no stated reason are clearly bigots. In addition, U.S. Airways’ management are bigots if they condone this racism and don’t publicly apologize and discipline the pilot. Anyone who sits by and doesn’t speak out against this kind of primitive, ignorant, irrational and dangerous behavior is guilty of contributing to it. This story should be reported, investigated and paid much more attention to than it has been. It is an outrage that this kind of discrimination and persecution is still taking place.

  24. Jay says:

    As someone who is not Sikh but a resident of Sacramento (where this act of racism occurred), I’m disgusted, ashamed and angry. The pilot and those who “felt uneasy” enough to have these men thrown off the plane for no stated reason are clearly bigots. In addition, U.S. Airways’ management are bigots if they condone this racism and don’t publicly apologize and discipline the pilot. Anyone who sits by and doesn’t speak out against this kind of primitive, ignorant, irrational and dangerous behavior is guilty of contributing to it. This story should be reported, investigated and paid much more attention to than it has been. It is an outrage that this kind of discrimination and persecution is still taking place.

  25. Jay says:

    As someone who is not Sikh but a resident of Sacramento (where this act of racism occurred), I’m disgusted, ashamed and angry. The pilot and those who “felt uneasy” enough to have these men thrown off the plane for no stated reason are clearly bigots. In addition, U.S. Airways’ management are bigots if they condone this racism and don’t publicly apologize and discipline the pilot. Anyone who sits by and doesn’t speak out against this kind of primitive, ignorant, irrational and dangerous behavior is guilty of contributing to it. This story should be reported, investigated and paid much more attention to than it has been. It is an outrage that this kind of discrimination and persecution is still taking place.

  26. Jodha says:

    Jay,

    I understand your sentiments and it does seem that at least one local newspaper has picked up the story – the Sacramento Bee. It has also been commented on at Aero-News Network.

  27. Jodha says:

    Jay,

    I understand your sentiments and it does seem that at least one local newspaper has picked up the story – the Sacramento Bee. It has also been commented on at Aero-News Network.

  28. Jodha says:

    Jay,

    I understand your sentiments and it does seem that at least one local newspaper has picked up the story – the Sacramento Bee. It has also been commented on at Aero-News Network.

  29. Jodha says:

    Jay,

    I understand your sentiments and it does seem that at least one local newspaper has picked up the story – the Sacramento Bee. It has also been commented on at Aero-News Network.

  30. Jay says:

    That's true, Jodha, and thank you for pointing that out. It was only one article (somewhat buried in the Sunday paper) with no follow-up or investigation that I can find. There are so many other questions: What did the passengers observe that made them "uneasy". How many people felt scared or suspicious? Did any passengers object to the blatant racism? What does the airline have to say now and will they accept the offer of training that United Sikhs has offered? I also dislike the oft-used addendum to many articles of this type that states that "after 9/11 many Sikhs have been erroneously mistaken for Muslims" as if it would be any more acceptable to discriminate against Muslims.

  31. Jay says:

    That’s true, Jodha, and thank you for pointing that out. It was only one article (somewhat buried in the Sunday paper) with no follow-up or investigation that I can find. There are so many other questions: What did the passengers observe that made them “uneasy”. How many people felt scared or suspicious? Did any passengers object to the blatant racism? What does the airline have to say now and will they accept the offer of training that United Sikhs has offered? I also dislike the oft-used addendum to many articles of this type that states that “after 9/11 many Sikhs have been erroneously mistaken for Muslims” as if it would be any more acceptable to discriminate against Muslims.

  32. Jay says:

    That’s true, Jodha, and thank you for pointing that out. It was only one article (somewhat buried in the Sunday paper) with no follow-up or investigation that I can find. There are so many other questions: What did the passengers observe that made them “uneasy”. How many people felt scared or suspicious? Did any passengers object to the blatant racism? What does the airline have to say now and will they accept the offer of training that United Sikhs has offered? I also dislike the oft-used addendum to many articles of this type that states that “after 9/11 many Sikhs have been erroneously mistaken for Muslims” as if it would be any more acceptable to discriminate against Muslims.

  33. Jay says:

    That’s true, Jodha, and thank you for pointing that out. It was only one article (somewhat buried in the Sunday paper) with no follow-up or investigation that I can find. There are so many other questions: What did the passengers observe that made them “uneasy”. How many people felt scared or suspicious? Did any passengers object to the blatant racism? What does the airline have to say now and will they accept the offer of training that United Sikhs has offered? I also dislike the oft-used addendum to many articles of this type that states that “after 9/11 many Sikhs have been erroneously mistaken for Muslims” as if it would be any more acceptable to discriminate against Muslims.

  34. […] November 2008, three Sikh musicians were heading to Salt Lake City via Phoenix when they were escorted from a US Airways plane at the Sacramento International Airport after some passengers expressed […]

  35. […] November 2008, three Sikh musicians were heading to Salt Lake City via Phoenix when they were escorted from a US Airways plane at the Sacramento International Airport after some passengers expressed […]

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