First it was the YouTube video of soldiers being charged the appropriate fees for checking their bags on a Delta flight that caused the airline to change their policies and issue an apology. Then things calmed down for a few days and it looked like we were back to normal. But it could not last. No, Delta found itself in the middle of a mess again this week when someone managed to completely misinterpret the carrier’s policies regarding a planed partnership with Saudi Arabia Airlines as part of the latter’s efforts to join the SkyTeam alliance.
With awesome headlines like "Delta adopts Saudi ‘no-Jew’ fly policy" and "U.S. Jews Not Able To Fly On Delta Flights To Saudi Arabia" it i s no wonder that the media went crazy over this one. And eventually Delta capitulated. It is a sad day indeed.
The uproar is over the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ("KSA") generally will not issue visas to travelers who state their religion as Jewish on their passport or who have stamps from Israel in their passport. Every airline is responsible for ensuring that passengers boarding an international flight have the correct documentation to permit them entry at the destination country. The fines can be severe for non-compliance. So Delta would be required to comply with the policies of the KSA and ensure that passengers boarding a flight had the correct Visa. If they do not then they do not board. This is not racism, anti-Semitism or anything else that the stories written about it have claimed, at least not on the part of Delta. But with leading paragraphs like this one, it is easy to see how the facts got confused:
Delta Air Lines’ plan to add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam Alliance of partnering companies would require the American carrier to ban Jews and holders of Israeli passports from boarding flights from New York or Washington bound for Jeddah, prompting outraged accusations of illegal religious discrimination.
What is most interesting to me, however, is Delta’s response. In a blog post yesterday they did their best to clarify the situation and in doing so they appear to have made a few assertions that are, at best, confusing. For example, on the topic of service to Saudi Arabia Delta offered this:
Q: Do you operate any service to Saudi Arabia?
A: No, we don’t codeshare with any airline that serves that country
Except they do. Delta codeshares extensively with Air France which offers service to Riyadh 3x weekly. There is no Delta code on that flight but that’s not the statement made in their answer.
The other interesting assertion in their post is this one:
Q: Will Saudi Air’s membership into SkyTeam affect Delta customers?
A: Simply put, no. We don’t intend to codeshare or share any reciprocal benefits (such as frequent flier benefits) with Saudi Air.
The whole point of the global alliances is a seamless travel experience across member carriers. Things like frequent flyer point earning and redemption reciprocity and codeshares are the reason the alliances exist. And instead of celebrating the growth of the alliance Delta is yielding to the fear mongers and bible-thumpers and disavowing all relationships.
Let me be very clear on this: I’m not a fan of the KSA policies. I’m also not planning on visiting soon. But I’m also not supportive of boycotting a company in the USA that does no business there, certainly not with misinformation and knee-jerk reactions like the ones we’ve seen this week.
It never ceases to amaze me how the idiots can drive policy by proclaiming their ignorance louder than anyone smart.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.