I wasn’t going to comment on the recent kerfuffle over Saudi Arabian Airlines joining Skyteam, it seemed pretty silly and Wandering Aramean and One Mile at a Time already covered the issue quite well.
But the story is still circulating, I’m incensed at the silliness being repeated on this morning’s news shows, and which completely miss the point.
Huffington Post carried a piece claiming that Delta discriminates against Jews because Saudi Arabian is joining the alliance of which Delta is a member. Saudi Arabia won’t provide visas to anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport (though of course one can get a secondary passport to circumvent this problem, or avoid the permanent stamp in the first place).
Saudi Arabia is a particularly oppressive regime, as are many Middle Eastern governments. And Timatic contains the following information on admittance:
– Visitors holding passports containing any Israeli visa or
stamp could be refused entry.
Delta doesn’t fly to Saudi Arabia. But they will partner with the country’s national airline, making it easier for passengers to buy through-travel. Delta is required to follow the entry rules of the country to which passengers are flying. As are other airlines that fly to Saudi Arabia, and plenty of other airlines partner with airlines that do as well. Lufthansa, for instance, flies daily to Riyadh and partners with United/Continental and with US Airways. So does Star Alliance member British Midland. And Turksih. And EgyptAir. These airlines are subject to the same rules and behave exactly the same way.
And in fact, the government of Saudi Arabia is hardly unique in its requirements. Here’s what Timatic says about entry to the United Arab Emirates:
Holders of passports containing an Israeli visa or stamp
must obtain clearance through the C.I.D. (Crime
Investigation Dept.) upon arrival.
American just this week announced a new partnership with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad. Which offers non-stop flights to the U.S. (American’s joint business venture partner British Airways flies to Saudi Arabia as well.)
Until recently, United and Continental partnered with Emirates, which also offers non-stop flights to the U.S.
The U.S., by the way, offers special rights to Saudi Arabian Airlines to continue its Jeddah – New York flight on to Washington Dulles (it cannot carry passengers solely between DC and New York). And it allows special rights to Kuwaiti Airlines to fly New York JFK – London, in other words flights between the US and a country other than the airline’s home country .. out of a slot-controlled airport, no less.
There is plenty of reasonable outrage at the practices of Saudi Arabia, and at other oppressive regimes. But the locus of outrage, it seems to me, ought to be at (1) those regimes directly and (2) at the U.S. government for accommodating those regimes.
Plenty of people will argue that the current government of Saudi Arabia is much more liberal, and much more friendly towards the U.S., than what we would get otherwise. And that’s a reasonable argument to have. But it doesn’t seem like it’s an argument to have with Delta, which clearly isn’t anti-semitic.
Delta seems to be the frequent target of misplaced public outrage (and some that’s justified). In this case, though, the beef seems with the government rather than the airline… which after all allows Saudi Arabian Airlines to fly to the U.S..