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article imageOp-Ed: Man and wife kicked off plane for T-shirt satirizing TSA

By Ken Hanly     Aug 22, 2012 in Travel
Buffalo - A man and his wife were not allowed to board a Delta Airlines flight from Buffalo-Niagara airport because their satirical T-shirts supposedly made crew and passengers very uncomfortable.
Arijit Guha, 31, is a doctoral student at Arizona State University. He has advanced colon cancer and has undergone extensive surgery and chemotherapy which ended up costing $118,000 more than the $300,000 cap on his student health plan, expenses that his insurer Aetna would not cover.
Guha managed to draw the CEO of Aetna Mark T. Bertolini into a heated exchange on Twitter and as the video appended shows Guha won out in the end and even won a victory for the student health plan. The usually caustic and sarcastic Guha in the end had nothing but praise for Mr. Bertolini. Guha is no stranger to controversy and he seems to enjoy being provocative. He has no praise for the TSA (Transportation Security Agency)
Guha and his wife were about to board a plane at the Buffalo-Niagara airport. They passed through security with no problem. However, he was then approached by a Delta agent who told him that his T-shirt was making passengers nervous. The offending T-shirt has a TSA logo together with text that satirizes what Guha considers the agencies paranoid and overbearing security stance.
TSA agents questioned Guha about the significance of his T-shirt. He explained that it was mocking the manner in which the TSA approached security and over-reaction by them and the public to the threat of terrorism. Ironically what was happening to Guha and his wife was a perfect exemplification of his point!
Guha was then informed that if he took off the offending shirt and again had their belongings searched they could board the flight. Guha agreed. Just as they were about to board the plane he was pulled aside again by not only a Delta supervisor but three TSA agents and several Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police as well. There was no SWAT team however.
He and his wife were questioned again. Their bags were searched anew, the offending shirt was photographed, and they were asked multiple questions. This was all to no avail as the pilot of the plane insisted that the presence of Guha and his wife would cause discomfort to other passengers. The T-shirt text was obviously not really a satire just the plain truth.
Guha and his wife were subject to even further interrogation. Some of the questions were quite inappropriate. There is much more detail on Guha's own blog. Guha and his wife had to find overnight accommodations at their own expense and flew out the next morning at 7 AM. The TSA was kind enough not to put them on the no-fly list. Yet!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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