24 June, 2011

Regarding Delta Airlines & Jews

I have some thoughts about this story that, at least for now, put me in direct opposition to many of my friends. First, a little background to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Yesterday my twitter feed was buzzing with a story printed in both World Net Daily and USAToday regarding Delta Airlines partnering with Saudi Arabian Airlines. The USAToday story has since been removed, but the WND story can be found here. Basically, it says that Jews will not be allowed into flights into Saudi Arabia.

Delta, realizing they had a PR nightmare on their hands issued the following statement, included in its entirety.

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. 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.

On a personal note, I want to share with you all that I’m proud to work at a global airline that serves a diverse customer base with an extremely diverse workforce, and I hope this blog has helped answer your questions on this important topic.

Trebor Banstetter

Delta Media Team

I read that, and tweeted that, in my mind, this exonerates them to some degree. They claim that they’re merely complying with Saudi Arabia’s travel restrictions and that you’d face the same travel restrictions no matter how you entered Saudi Arabia.

To borrow from our esteemed President. Let me be clear. If Delta’s statement is true (and I have no reason to believe that it isn’t), and that the Saudis do not allow Jews to travel in their country, then that is reprehensible. Before the statement from Delta, many people in my timeline were saying that Delta’s decision was reprehensible as well. Afterwards, the outcry diminished a little, but not much, pointing out that Delta doesn’t have to fly there, so their behavior is still reprehensible. That’s probably true.

Often stories go viral on the internet and stir up quite a bit of anger and frustration. This is certainly one of those times. Nearly as often though, there’s little accompanying research with the story. This also appears to be one of those times. My concern isn’t that Delta is being accused of deplorable behavior, but that they are being singled out.

I did a tiny bit of research. Not much. More needs to be done. What I did was to go to travelocity.com and look for flights from my local airport (IND) to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (RUH). I searched for a round trip from July 20-July 27. I found flights from the following airlines into Riyadh: Lufthansa, Etihad, and Qatar. In addition, the following airlines link with Saudi Arabian Airlines, Emeriates, or EgyptAir for flights into Riyadh: Delta, American Airlines, Air France, and US Airways.

From this I conclude one of four things is true:

  1. There are no travel restrictions for Jews into Saudi Arabia, and this whole this is nothing but hot air.
  2. There are travel restrictions and Delta is lying about who is to blame.
  3. There are travel restrictions and other airlines are ignoring them.
  4. There are travel restrictions and other airlines are complying as well and Delta is being unfairly singled out.

The last one seems by far the most likely to me. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to attack Delta over this. If you feel that this is wrong, attack them. Just make sure that you’re not caught up in the heat of the moment and are armed with facts, and are not singling out Delta for behavior that may not be unique.

However, if my interpretation is incorrect, and Delta does deserve to be singled out, then I will gladly post an update and jump on the bandwagon with you. Until then, I prefer to wait and see how this all plays out.


  1. Ag_conservative4:33 PM, June 24, 2011

    Sorry, I was responding on twitter, but realized I can comment here. This deal is a bit different fro what other airlines who fly to SA do. Delta is specifically signing a huge deal to make Saudi airlines part of their fleet. As such they will be responsible for enforcing harsher restrictions as to who can fly and what they can carry. Usually airlines just have to check for a visa (which is not given to anyone with an Israeli stamp and in some instances Jews). So essentially Delta is choosing for financial reasons to support SA's discrimination to a much larger extent (or would be as the people at Delta I talked to told me the deal is not final yet and they are wavering). That is not to say Delta has no right to do what it is doing, they do. However, if it is a financial decisions, then me and other patrons have every right to talk with out money and not fly them unless they cancel the deal. I think the outrage is just a way to warn Delta that those financial consequences may come if it chooses to go through with the deal.

  2. You appear to know more than I do, as you've actually talked to people at Delta, so you may be right. I remain skeptical that Delta will be doing anything differently than any other airline, but I certainly wouldn't be willing to bet the farm on it.

    Interesting post @ The Corner today that has some bearing:


    I don't agree with the comment saying that the same fury should be directed at the rest of the SkyTeam members, since none of them appear to be U.S. firms.

    Anyway, I don't have a problem with you or anyone else being fired up about it. I'm just withholding my anger until I'm sure I know who exactly should be on the receiving end of it.

  3. ag_conservative4:51 PM, June 24, 2011

    Understandable, I just wanted to point out that the Delta situation does appear different than other airlines. Although, as I said on twitter, I am not going to fully condemn them until I hear they actually are going through with the deal.

  4. I BELIEVE this is a Delta-specific issue. They are choosing to take on the additional restrictions because they want to offer flights to and from Saudi Arabia. To be sure, I don't KNOW for a fact this is the case.