Delta Airlines awoke this week to two new stories. First, their SkyTeam alliance has entered into an agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines. Second, many bloggers have cried out, writing that Delta will ban Jews, Israelis, those with Israeli stamped passports, and anyone traveling with Christian bibles and other non Islamic religious oriented items from its flights to Riyadh and other Saudi Arabian destinations.

Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter responded to these rumors, writing that:

We’ve gotten questions today from you, our concerned customers, following an article about Saudi Arabian Airlines joining SkyTeam (the global airline alliance that includes Delta as a member). After listening to many of your thoughts today, we’d like to take this opportunity to share some information and help to clarify some of the questions we know you have.

First and foremost, I think one of the most important things to mention here is that Delta does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against anyone in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.

That said, some have raised questions about whether Saudi Arabian Airlines’ membership in SkyTeam means Delta is adopting any type of policies that could present barriers to travel for some passengers, including Jewish customers. Jewish customers might have to opt for a private jet card program instead. For this particular concern, it’s important to realize that visa requirements to enter any country are dictated by that nation’s government, not the airlines, and they apply to anyone entering the country regardless of whether it’s by plane, bus or train.

We, like all international airlines, are required to comply with all applicable laws governing entry into every country we serve. You as passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary travel documents, such as visas and certification of required vaccinations, and we’re responsible for making sure that you have the proper documentation before you board.

Okay, now I understand. Delta is not discriminating. They are merely entering into a commercial relationship with a national airline that requires passengers to have visas and vaccinations before landing in Saudi Arabia. Just make sure you were not vaccinated Jewish, I guess; but I am sure you can still order the kosher meal.

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  • They do have a right to fly where they want. They are following the mandates of the countries they fly to. Even though those countries are stupid for not letting in Jewish people, or should we say anyone who visited Israel, what can we do? A guy has to make a buck, right? Doesn’t Delta fly to Israel, maybe that was a few years ago.

  • Seems like much ado about nothing new. The only new thing is Saudi Arabian interests are merging with an American carrier, otherwise, who ever thought you could travel to Mecca with an Israeli passport?

  • The “outrage” over this is completely ridiculous.

    Delta will not be discriminating against anyone. And Delta isn’t even going to be flying to Saudi Arabia. This is an alliance and code-sharing agreement that allows passengers to earn/redeem frequent flier miles on the allied airlines and allows the airlines to market each other’s flights. So if you want to fly to Riyadh or Jeddah, instead of buying a ticket on a US airline to New York or Washington and a Saudi ticket from there to Riyadh or Jeddah, you can buy a Delta ticket all the way through (although the last leg will still be on a Saudi Airlines plane with a Saudi Airlines crew–you’ll just have a Delta flight number on your ticket).

    Pretty much all airlines that fly internationally already check to make sure you have proper documentation before traveling internationally. You’re not supposed to get on any international flight without a passport. And you’re not supposed to get on a flight to a country that requires a visa without a visa. Delta checking to make sure you have a Saudi visa on a flight connecting to Riyadh is no different than checking to make sure you have a Chinese or Russian visa on a flight connecting via Skyteam members China Eastern or Aeroflot to Shanghai or Moscow. And Delta refusing someone with an Israeli passport is no different than American refusing someone connecting to an El Al codeshare who has a Syrian passport.

    This isn’t discrimination. It’s the airlines trying to avoid having to fly you home on their dime after you are rejected from entering the country of your destination.

    Meanwhile, if folks are upset altogether about doing business with Saudi Arabia altogether, then instead of picking on Delta, I suggest you start boycotting your car, since the US gaspump is where most of Saudi Arabia’s money and power originates.

    • Right on.

      Just to compare, to visit the US – a country that partakes in the “Visa Waiver Program” as well as Germany does and that I need not apply for a visa for – , I need a biometric passport (for which I needed biometric passport-proof passport pictures), I need to fill in the ESTA form on the internet (comes with a fee) at least 72 hours prior to departure to see whether the US will consider my temporary stay (approval is no guarantee for admission), an extra form for my airline in which I provide part of the info I’ve already provided on the ESTA form, the visa waiver-form I90 on the plane (again, the same info) as well as the customs declaration form. Now the info I must provide even entails a valid email address and a phone number at which I can be reached over there. All throughout my stay I am required to carry my passport on me into which a segment of the I90 form has been stapled to give evidence of that I’m legally visiting the US as a tourist. Before I can board a plane over here, I need to provide sufficient documentation that shows that I’ve already booked and paid for a return flight. Upon request, I need to provide proof of sufficient monetary resources upon entering the US as well as proof of health insurance that’ll cover me over there as there, as of now, is no bi-lateral agreement between Germany and the US that would ensure I could claim medical assistance.

      In complying with this procedure, I’m subjecting myself to the very rules that apply to all citizens from countries that partake in the VWP. And it’s ok, because I want to be a guest to the US, which’ll be my host. A polite guest abides by the rules of their host. Their home, their rules. My home, my rules.

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