Your Rights as an Airline Passenger

Since we’ve recently seen an increase in air travel-related incidents involving Muslim passengers, we thought it worthwhile to remind Muslims of the guide which CAIR’s national office provides which details your legal rights as an airline passenger.  Here’s a summary:

As an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel. It is illegal for law enforcement officials to perform any stops, searches, detentions, or removals based solely on your race, religion, national origin, sex, or ethnicity.

If you believe you have been treated in a discriminatory manner, you should:

  • Ask for the names and ID number of all persons involved in the incident. Be sure to write down this information.
  • Ask to speak to a supervisor.
  • Politely ask if you have been singled out because of your name, looks, dress, race, ethnicity, faith, or national origin.
  • Politely ask witnesses to give you their names and contact information.
  • Write a statement of facts immediately after the incident. Be sure to include the flight number, the flight date and the name of the airline.
  • Contact CAIR to file a report. If you are leaving the country, leave a detailed message with the information above at 202-488-8787 or at

It is important to note the following:

  • A customs agent has the right to stop, detain and search every person and item.
  • Screeners have the authority to conduct a further search of you or your bags.
  • A pilot has the right to refuse to fly a passenger if he or she believes the passenger is a threat to the safety of the flight. The pilot”™s decision must be reasonable and based on observations, not stereotypes. (Special thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union.)

No-Fly List and Selectee List

Individuals experiencing difficulties during travel at airports, train stations or U.S. borders may be on either the no-fly or selectee list.

It is very difficult to determine if you are on one of these lists.

You may be on the selectee list if you are unable to use the internet or the airport kiosks for automated check-in and instead have to check in at the ticketing counter. You should eventually be permitted to fly.

The no-fly list, on the other hand, prohibits individuals from flying at all. If you are able to board an airplane, regardless of the amount of questioning or screening, then you are not on the no-fly list.

If you are constantly subjected to advanced screening or are prevented from boarding your flight, you should file a complaint with DHS TRIP at Most people who file with DHS TRIP are not actually on a watch list and that service can resolve most problems.

Contact CAIR to file a report at 202-488-8787 or if you are experiencing difficulties traveling.



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