Aeroflot Deports US Citizens To India Because Of How They Look

Filed Under: Aeroflot

There are quite a few airports throughout the world that allow you to transit without a visa. As a matter of fact, a vast majority of countries do as long as you remain in the sterile transit area. This works just fine 99% of the time, but it gets tricky in the event of irregular operations, where you can’t legally leave the airport. I don’t want to say that it’s a reason to avoid connecting certain places, though at least it’s something to be aware of, especially if you’re traveling on a route with only one flight a day, or even worse, a route with just a few frequencies a week.

Reader Nick forwarded a story from some Facebook users who had a nightmare experience with Aeroflot at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on January 7. First I’ll share a brief summary of what happened, then a video, and then the full Facebook account from one passenger.

Essentially passengers were traveling from Delhi to Moscow to New York, and upon arrival in Moscow they were informed that their flight to New York was canceled. After having to wait for hours to be rebooked, US passport holders were informed that they would be “deported” to Delhi, since passengers can’t stay in transit for more than 24 hours.

Passengers allege that white US passport holders were rebooked on flights to the US, while US passport holders of Indian descent were sent back to Delhi. Perhaps most damning is a video of an Aeroflot employee telling a group of passengers that they’d be deported to Delhi. He says “I am talking now with Indian passengers” while holding up one of their US passports:

Please share. This guy is discriminating against Indians and trying to “deport” us all back to India. As a US citizen per IATA regulations they need to send us to the US, not back to India. He literally looked at people and decided who needs to go back to India. Can I sue him and Aeroflot???? Who knows???

Posted by Shahana Begum Islam on Sunday, January 7, 2018

Here’s one account shared by a passenger on Facebook of what happened:

On Jan 7, I had my return flight to New York City (JFK airport). On landing in Moscow, I learned that my flight from Moscow to New York (JFK) SU102 was cancelled. I stood on the information counter over 10 hours to learn my fate. I was repeatedly told that all the flights are full and I have no option but to return back to New Delhi. I informed the representatives behind the desk that I am US citizen and I need to go to my country, my home i.e. US. I begged the Aeroflot Airlines representatives (Mr. Gregoriy and Ms. Kitora) that they can send me to anywhere in the US, places in Europe on the next available flight. I was ready to wait at the airport at my own expense.

To my horror, I saw many US citizens (white in color) come by and get their tickets for later flights or be told to wait in lounge and will be called once the details are ready. Once such couple was coming in from Saigon with JFK as the final destination. I was shocked to see lies and racism at full play at the airport. US citizens were given separate treatment based on color. One woman with a crying baby was rudely told to come back after the baby is quiet.

In the meantime, Aeroflot Airlines official, Mr, Mikhail, issued me a boarding pass on a flight back to Delhi. I informed him that I am a US citizen and wanted to go back to my country. He got very rude, shouted at me and said that this is ‘only’ choice I have otherwise I would face heavy fines and deportation. I informed that if they have to deport me it will have to be my home country i.e. US. He told me I will be deported to New Delhi. So, either I go at my will or they will send me against mine. I was left with no choice and had to board the flight back to New Delhi. I have been flying for over 17+ years and never ever has been harassed or treated this way.

When I arrived in New Delhi on January 8th, there was only one Aeroflot Airlines employee (Mr. Neeraj) at the airport. He told me that he had no information regarding when I would be issued a new ticket, could not offer hotel and food. He told me to take a taxi and find my own hotel. He gave me contact details where I could speak with a representative and get details. The office was to open only at 10.00am IST. With nowhere to go, I took a flight to Jaipur. I emailed the office that morning and called the phone number provided to me but nobody bothered to answer all day. Next day, I had to send an acquaintance of mine to figure out the situation because Aeroflot Airlines representatives were neither responding to calls nor emails. He explained the situation to the employees and they said the would issue me a ticket but for the 13th. I asked what if I fly other airline as I need to get back to work but the ticket is expensive and will they cover? They said no.

Because of the lies and racism faced by me, I have lost a week of work (I will not be allowed to to vacation this year) and faced tremendous mental stress. Aeroflot has left me scarred. I have videos and testimonials from passengers to prove these incidents.

How can airlines treat their customers this way? I urge everyone to not fly by this airline and suggest what course of action I can take against them.

This sounds horrible on so many levels. Not only for the very obvious racism, but also for the incompetence. Could Aeroflot not find these people any routing back to the US on any airline? It’s completely unacceptable to send people back to where their journey originated when there certainly must be some options to get people to their destinations (there are tons of routes through Europe, for example). I get that this was during a time where New York was having all kinds of operational issues due to the weather, but at a minimum they could have gotten them to an intermediate airport where they could enter without a visa, even if the connection was only a day or two later.

  1. A lot of hearsay…was this when there were massive cancellations across US due to blizzards and arctic temperatures? How do they really know the ‘white’ passengers actually did get tickets onwards to the US?

  2. @ Steve — No doubt there’s a lot of hearsay and I wouldn’t necessarily put too much weight on that part of the story. However, the Aeroflot representative telling US passport holders that they’re Indian is just about all I need to know.

  3. No offense, but we’ve heard the same OMG MUH RAYSISM from Indians transiting in, of all places, Frankfurt a.M.

  4. Russians are not known for Hospitality toward people with darker skin.
    That being said I wonder if the person complaining was being a cheapskate to be stupid enough to fly aeroflot through Moscow?

  5. Everyone should also realize this Aeroflot representative was not a master of english and a lot of what was be said could be attributable to simple miscommunication. This is really a non story and these passengers seemed very pushy (albeit understandably given the circumstances).

  6. I am definitely choosy about my layovers. I was not happy having a long layover in Turkey during the Visa debacle for this reason. I will do long layovers where I have a Visa and plan a visit but I’m hesitant to go places Americans are clearly unwelcome. And I won’t fly through the Gulf countries that have iffy records with women. No thanks. But this is beyond horrible. Send them anywhere. But sending them back to India makes no sense. I think at that point I would have paid a lot to get any flight to an EU country and figure it out from there. I will certainly take Aeroflot off my list.

  7. Taking Aeroflot off your list is the quickest way to get their attention.
    If enough flyers do it they will get the msg.

  8. Hold your horses until more facts get out. Maybe the airline reps analyzed everyone’s passports and they concluded that they would only send people to the US if they had used up their single entry Indian visa and back to India if they had a multiple entry visa. Thise of Indian descent would have been more likely to have had multi-entry. Or maybe those US passengers of Indian extraction were dual passport holders—deduced if their US passport had no Indian visa in it or the IT system showed an additional Indian nationality–info gained from the questioning before boarding tbe original outbound flight.

  9. @Bob and Steve, you mean how 90% of the flying public chooses flights? Remember we who follow this blog are a very small minority compared to the vast majority of people who only fly to get from point A to point B and in the cheapest manner. Points and loyalty mean very little to the public at large.

    @Emily, simiarly to my point above, the majority of people flying may not even know about things like the Visa issue in turkey, or layover transit rules in Moscow. Airlines dont exactly go around parading information that is likely to drive people away. The only reason I knew about the visa issue in Turkey was because of this blog. A good friend is going on vacation in Greece this spring, and was going to book via IST on Turkish. The prices were out of this world cheap (I wonder why?) I told him about the visa spat and he ended up booking via BA. In a lot of cases the Airline will offer absurdly low ticket prices with no mention of the issues. During the visa issue, Turkish was consistently the first airline with the lowest price for a ton of destinations all over the world originiating in the US because travel was down enough to warrant them going after unsuspecting consumers.

  10. Don’t trust Russia. Ever. It’s really that simple.

    That sucks, though, and India isn’t exactly the place you want to be stranded in to deal with airline agents. I’ve been there during IROP and it sucked as nobody could/would help and you have limited communications with the outside world since wifi isn’t just everywhere. They also have a weird double security thing at the airport that can leave you in purgatory. It sucks.

  11. The risk of being subjected to this kind of incident is why I buy fully comprehensive travel insurance. One call to the insurance company would, I feel sure, have provided confirmation that I would be reimbursed for the additional cost of re-routing to my original destination on any airline – via Timbuktu, if needs be!

  12. I entertained the thought of flying Singapore Airlines IAH (Houston)-DME (Moscow Domo-whatever)-SIN but the thought of IROPS and not having a visa or bumping into Ed Snowden was too much. SQ recently changed it to a IAH-MAN-SIN routing, which is much safer.

    Flying Aeroflot is even riskier than a SQ Russian stop.

  13. When I go to India, I feel I have to be alert upon arrival. None of this 2 am arrival non-sense. What I do, and this is inefficient, is to fly to Singapore, recover for at least a day, then continue to India. It slows down my schedule and adds costs, but it’s the only way.

    It might be possible to recover in Hong Kong instead. Bangkok or Dubai might be a possibility, too.

  14. It’s strange that when Indian/Brown people complain of racism then it’s “hearsay” and a non-story but when it’s black or white people then it’s always a legitimate problem.

    @WilliamY – there have been various reports of racist attitudes from LH agents towards Indian people. I don’t think people will make up 10 paragraph stories just for giggles.

    They should report this to the US embassy and DOT. Ridiculous that an airline will refuse to send US citizens back home.

  15. So why Aeroflot (if it’s so bad) – got so many Skytrax awards last year? I don’t understand that.

  16. Wouldn’t the obvious argument be “I can’t go back to India. I don’t have a valid visa anymore!” ? In most cases, that would probably be true. I had visa in other nations that were void after 1 entry. Getting send back is therefore not an option.

    Seeing how Aeroflot was apparently refusing to rebook on non-Aeroflot flights and how the US was impacted by adverse weather, this roughly resembles the plot of Terminal. Can’t continue travel since weather prevents that. Can’t leave the terminal since you don’t have a visa and can’t return in case your Indian visa is no longer valid. Tom Hanks would approve.

    BTW: That’s one of the reason why I’m not flying via Moscow (or Saudi Arabia for that matter). If you want to be on the safe side, book on European carriers via the EU: You’ll get your hotel, food and drinks paid even if the airline isn’t at fault. Just this week BA forked out over 300£ in expenses for hotel, food and drinks.

  17. Oh, and always make sure that you can
    a) enter the transit nation without visa, or
    b) get a VOA or emergency visa at the transit point

    in case of IRROPS

  18. @Dave: For similar reasons I haven’t booked SQ on CPH-(DME)-SIN-ADL. They had/have a decent fare on that route $2,700 rt in J (only 245$ more than AI FRA-SYD) and it’s operated by an A350 on CPH-DME-SIN (so new metal to test). The visa issue is however holding me back.

  19. @Slobodan—not sure of the criteria Skytrax uses but in my experience Aeroflot is just like RyanAir or other discount carriers—cramped seat pitch in economy even over Atlantic, paper cups, could have been cleaner,… But $2,000 total for a family of 4 IAD-SVO round trip, no complaints. Most real people fly the cheapest option when not traveling on the employer’s dime and have insurance for when things go wrong.

  20. Someone mentioning Aeroflot getting Skytrax awards in the comments as representation that Aeroflot is right and the best. LOL!


  21. I have flown aeroflot several times in the past 2 years. Their aircraft are nearly new and I consider their economy section to be one of the best I have ever flown. Actual legroom and edible food for a price that cannot be matched. Americans can get 3 year multiple entry visas so just get one and no issues with transit. Russians cannot even transit the US without a visa – imagine a Russian trying to board a US airline that transits the US – they would simply be denied boarding. This can happen if a Russian only receives a single entry visa but is flying round trip. At least these folks were able to get home.

  22. I never address comments, but I feel compelled to do so here.

    Cripes, some of the comments here are disgraceful — references to alt-right/neo-Nazi memes, insistence that there’s something in the Indian character that caused this to happen, assertion of unwarranted “aggressiveness” on the part of the pax, etc. You have a video in which an Aeroflot agent is holding US passports and insisting that the holders are not US citizens. What else do you need to know?

    Maybe the agent wasn’t racist. But if he wasn’t racist, he was certainly stupid. So you’ve got three choices here — racist, stupid, or both.

  23. No way in hell I’d fly a russian airline or go anywhere near that place. I don’t care of the price but it’s not worth it. I’ll transit through London, Madrid, Paris, or any other European airport. Regardless of this situation for which I feel bad for these people.

  24. @Eliyahu—one also needs to know if the people whose US passports up also had Indian citizenship.

  25. I have lived and worked in Russia and I have flown Aeroflot back in the days when they were still flying Tupolov and Illyusian where some seats were folderable. Since then, the equipment has gotten better and fa better trained, but the racial bias ingrained into Russian population in general will take much more than some training to change.
    As for the story, it is totally believable and likely.

  26. I was booked on Aeroflot TLV-SVO-JFK on January 8th. I was afraid of being stuck in Moscow so I went to the ticket office at TLV and convinced them to rebook me on a nonstop to Newark!

  27. This comment is submitted to defend SU and the US citizen accusing it of discrimination.

    In January 2015 as part of a Skyteam around-the-world award ticket in business class (Delta has since killed these), I flew SU from Dubai to Moscow to Sofia to Moscow to Amsterdam. I found the cabin crew on each flight to be very helpful, friendly, and professional. They had very good english skills. Business class on the SU A320s and 737s was outstanding. Way better than what major EU carriers provide intra Europe. Seats were much better than US domestic first class and food and beverages were comparable to business long-haul international.

    I didn’t worry about visas or irrops but that trip taught me a lesson about connecting at SVO in January. The Russians are very good at keeping their airports open during blizzards, and SVO has many bus gates. Not matter where you are coming from or going to, dress warmly.

    In contrast to the great in-flight experiences, the SU ground staff at SVO seemed uptight about everything. For example, I asked an agent in the lounge at SVO if I could take a photo (she wasn’t that good looking but thought it would be cool to have an Aeroflot employee in the shot). She hit the ceiling. I thought she was going to call the FSB and have me sent to Siberia.

    As an African American, I’ve run into very helpful Russians and a few who seem to have issues. I’m somewhat amazed by the comments that appear to be attacking the man who got sent to india because he has no proof of discrimination. I wonder if they have been the victims of discrimination because of skin color or perceived national origin. These days it’s not like anyone is dumb or bold enough to come out and say I’m discriminating against you or giving preferential treatment to others because of x,y,or z. Racists never publicly admit they are racists.

  28. I’ve done some research and another version of the Indian-American passengers’ quotes note they had Indian visas-so presumably that closes my dual-national idea. But it might still be a single entry v multiple entry visa issue—if limited seats to US in the 24 hr window, presumably they would be saved for Americans with single entry visas as the airline would get in trouble sending people to India with no visa. Not saying there isn’t rascism in these unfortunate passengers’ situation, just that it shouldn’t always be the first thing we all jump to when we don’t have all the facts.

  29. Doesn’t look like @Travel Dad has done much traveling or googling either for all kinds of non intelligent comments he is posting here.

  30. If I had to guess, the passenger was a US Citizen with an OCI card (Overseas Citizen of India). The US is obviously home, but they can enter India multiple times with no issues.

    Indians have been dealing with racism on every European (and even some Middle Eastern) airline for over 2 decades. Not just at the European hub, but even during overbooking or lost baggage compensation in India anyone who looks brown or doesn’t know the rules gets shafted. Attitudes have improved only thanks to cutthroat competition and cellphone video.

    Aeroflot is frequently the cheapest option on DEL-US by the way, so this is bound to happen again.

  31. @MrChu—

    It would better if you were to attack a poster’s arguments rather the poster personally. I made a possible argument about dual nationality and I noted it was wrong myself before anyone else. And I’ve been to 108 countries.

  32. I am so sad to read a lot of comments saying this is a made up story. According to me all people who are defending the airline and are insensitive to what the guys had to go through did not ever face such a situation due to their skin color. Lufthansa and Air France regularly treats Indians like that..I have myself experienced that even though I was flying in business class. Had such experience in BA also.

    So please think before saying something so insensitive. To me I feel that could have happened to him as Indians are treated regularly like that on a lot of airlines.

  33. As a Russian, this story doesn’t surprise me in the least. The population is incredibly racist – as in, think a movie about 1930s backwaters Alabama level of racist. So, the idea of sending the brown people “back to Africa” (everything is Africa if it’s not white) is not only likely but rather pleasurable for I’d say 80-90% of the population.
    Hopefully this story saves at least some people from visiting Russia and experiencing far worse.

  34. Leave it to Lucky’s privileged audience to whitesplain racism to a traveler of color who got royally fucked by the system that benefits them.

  35. Hmmmm I am somewhat surprised about this. Have never ever heard before about such tactics at SVO … have personally seen (though years ago) African refugees stuck in transit in SVO. So why the haste to deport? Unless that wasn’t the case. Did something maybe get lost in translation? One does wonder (as a commenter noted above) why a US citizen wouldn’t reach out immediately to the US Embassy and/or demand consular assistance prior to deportation to a third country (=India).

    I do wonder if this happened during the time that many planes were sent back to Europe during the storm chaos at JFK, and thus seats were extremely limited. And whether potentially due to customer conduct (ie boorish behavior) and/or limited capacity that this is what Aeroflot offered. I have no idea. But I would — absent any photo / video evidence — be cautious about drawing any conclusions without further eyewitness accounts.

  36. @rw and @Travel Dad: “I’ve done some research and another version of the Indian-American passengers’ quotes note they had Indian visas-so presumably that closes my dual-national idea.”

    You’d be correct if India allowed dual citizenship but hasn’t since about 10 or so years ago. Since they rescinded the ability to hold the Indian passport and the US passport at the same time you had to send in your Indian passport to be officially rescinded and stamped as such before they would issue you a new visit visa to India which is normally a 10 year visa (expires in 10 years after issuance) unless on a business visa in which case that is good normally for 1 or 5 years. HOWEVER there is a possibility the agent may have seen an OCI/PIO card/book and not realized that the passports he is holding are US passports (the books allow Indians who have been born overseas or naturalized citizens of another country to come back to India for a set duration without needing visas to be issued, also mandatory to own certain properties or do banking).

    Again however regardless the passenger in question should have immediately contacted the US embassy in either Moscow or Delhi and forwarded the video as well as the log of events followed by a complaint to the DOT for referral. Aerflot would then have about 30 days to do an investigation and reply to both the DOT and the passenger justifying their actions.

  37. Here we go again. Story seems doubtful. Nothing to do with Aeroflot. Customers of Indian decent often claim racism when it’s absolutely not
    Immigration are the ones who make the decision on arrival and not the airline
    I’ve read similar stories of people of Indian decent claiming discrimination because the airline refused a transit visa af a European airport due to a disruption
    Airlines don’t provide visas ! They can speak to immigration who have the final say
    If the flight is xxx they allow for irrops
    Aeroflot would rebook the next avail as they are obliged to

  38. I think we have to give Aeroflot the benefit of the doubt. We saw a video of a man being *extremely aggressive* with the airline employee during what was probably a very difficult situation for him: imagine the Aeroflot employee having to deal with getting an entire plane of people somewhere other than Russia within 24 hours, and his a#% is on the line if he fails.

    How does the aggressive man in the video know that other passengers of non-Indian descent were not also sent back to India? Also, as someone suggested above, Aeroflot probably deported those back to Delhi who could actually be deported to Delhi (i.e. Indians with multi-entry visas) while those who could not be deported back to India (i.e. those with single-entry visas on arrival) were sent to the USA or Europe — this isn’t racism, it’s dealing with a tough situation where the choices made give the illusion of racism.

    In short, yes, maybe racism, but also, maybe, a really tough situation where those who could be deported to Delhi were deported to Delhi and those who could not be deported to Delhi were sent elsewhere.

  39. Several them right for buying cheap tickets. I always try to book the most expensive ticket I can. That way I travel less, which has really reduced the amount of travel hassle I’ve had to endure.

  40. To add,viewing the video it was not well explained however due to the lack of flights to the USA I suspect SU wanted to send them back to India being the point of origin
    However one must consider if they are US Nationals then they would end up in India on a one way ticket unless they had the correct documentation to arrive there
    I think the SU staff didn’t explain it well

  41. Also, at the end, the airline rep says, “I don’t know how to say it” when he slams the passport down on the desk and runs away. It’s clear there were communication issues and that he had spent hours being berated by passengers of both Indian and non-Indian descent. Again, maybe he’s a racist, but maybe he’s also just frustrated from dealing with the situation and not being able to communicate properly as a non-native English speaker.

  42. I dont understand the logic what people making comments. If US citizen of indian origin has indian visa, deport him to india. In that case if US borne citizen stuck at moscow, they can deport him to any small south east asian country because US citizens can get on arrival visa ? How would that work out ? If you are a US citizen, you should be deported to US…period.

  43. @Anthony: by looking at video, it seems that both airline rep and US citizen speaks english very well.

  44. @Dealgrabber — the issue was that Russia has a strict 24-hour transit rule for those without visas. At the time this happened, JFK was in chaos. Aeroflot only had so many flights out of Russia. Where would you recommend the agent send the guests on this flight if they cannot send them to India? This is being painted as racism when I really think it’s more just a crummy logistical issue.

  45. @DealGrabber the airline rep does not speak English very well — that’s obvious. He speaks basic social English well enough to do basic functions of his job, but probably not well enough to explain a complicated situation like, “Well, I have to deport back to India those who can return to India with a multi-entry visa, while those who can’t go back to India must be prioritized for the flights to Europe or the USA.”

  46. English language ability could definitely be an issue. I recently flew from Samara to Moscow. The agents in Samara spoke no English whatsoever.

  47. Aeroflot rep said, “I am taking to ‘Indian’ passengers….”

    Maybe he just meant passengers on the fight from India that are now stranded.

    I get referred to as a “Dallas” passenger when traveling to that airport or having come from that airport.

  48. @anthony: if that was the case then they shouldnt have let him board the flight from Delhi. If blizzard condition at jfk was the true reason, they are well aware in advance. Please dont tell me aeroflot might not know about condtion at jfk.

  49. @Dealgrabber — it’s a long flight from Delhi to Moscow and many flights from Europe to JFK were turned around midair, so the chaos at JFK was certainly not predictable. I think you should have a bit more “generosity of spirit” for an airline employee stuck with an extremely difficult task — getting an entire planeload of people somewhere other than Russia within 24 hours.

  50. Just a note, for most leisure travelers to India, even with a multiple-entry visa, you must remain 60 days outside of the country between visits. Once they left the country it’s highly likely they would have had trouble re-entering India.

  51. To every Caucasian commentator who does not think this is racism – Being white, you folks have NO CLUE what racism is. So please stop mansplaining racism to those of us who face it every freaking day.

  52. @anthony: come on dude…its a 6 hrs flight…are you telling me that its a long flight. Did it snow in NYC first time? We all know in well advance that when blizzard will come and how much snow is expected. Dont tell me in 6 hrs blizzard unexpectedly came and 5-10 inches of snow fell. I fully agree with you on situation of airline employee but dont agree on jfk situation was reason because airline employee knew the 24 hrs strict rule so they r responsible that pessenger dont get boarded from delhi.

  53. India does not have single entry visas (like Vietnam for example). They’ve recently introduced an E-visa which allows 2 entries. Otherwise there is a one year or 10 year visa. Both if them have unlimited entry and exit allowance.

  54. @ElaineG – By that logic, every girl n US is a slut as they sleep with multiple men before marriage and per bible will go to hell for committing sin

    We already know how ignorant and tone deaf many of you are, we don’t need your comments to confirm that

  55. @jigar

    Not mansplaining racism at all, but the passenger in the video was being extremely aggressive to a low-paid Russian airport employee, with maybe 1/10 the privilege of this U.S. citizen traveling around the world and living in one of the most expensive U.S. cities. So, it’s not “racist” to give a foreign airline employee the benefit of the doubt, especially when it’s *very* obvious that he speaks poor English (i.e. at the end he is exasperated not knowing how to express himself). How would you respond to being screamed at by a passenger — of Indian descent or Irish descent — for almost 10 hours?

    If the investigation proves racism, the Aeroflot employee should be disciplined, but none of us here have all the facts.

  56. @Travel Dad, I think the problem here is that you sound too much like an apologist – “Yeah, the unarmed black dude was shot but we don’t know the full story so let’s not jump to conclusions…”. You saw the video, right? It is disgraceful – I think most reasonable people would agree.

  57. Russia is becoming as bad as Germany and Britain. Shame Russia. We had higher expectations from people who fought the Nazis.

  58. @anthony: you are now playing victim game because you dont have anything to say. If I dont like my low paid airline rep job, wht i do ? I quit. Passenger is not aggressive at all. He is just shocked and asking reason why he is being sent back to India which is not his home country.

  59. @Anthony I totally agree. The available evidence is not conclusive enough to blame the airline. It may very well be the number of entry issue on passengers’ Indian visa. Also, those US citizen Indians should have contacted US embassy. But my comment was in reference to lot of initial comments that tried to suggested Indians are always crying racism. Yes there are some that make false racism claims, but most of the initial comments were had racist undertone to them

  60. Jigor, clearly you do not understand racism or you have only traveled to Caucasian majority countries. Caucasians often face the same issues in Asia and Africa. I understand that certain people are going to be biased and it often a result of their upbringing. I remember a 10 year Mongolian girl telling me how much she hated Chinese people. A screaming and yelling Indian American only helps to reinforce certain stereotypes. All of us can face similar circumstances, it does not matter what race you are. But being an a#$hole in public is not going to get you very far and you have to expect that other’s reaction might just be the same.

  61. @ Jigar
    Or maybe you faced it one or twice in your lifetime, and you became paranoid, and it just seems to you that you face it every day.

  62. @ Dealgrabber — The weather situation at JFK last weekend was completely unprecedented. The snow came that Thursday, and on Sunday (60+ hours after precipitation had ceased) the FAA closed T1 (where most international flights arrive) to all incoming flights. It was an absolute mess. I know of someone who was stuck trying to leave JFK for five days because the situation kept changing nearly-hourly. Ten days later many passengers still don’t have their bags, which is certainly not something anyone could have predicted.

    So while I agree that this behavior from the Aeroflot agent is completely unacceptable, those saying that the agent was possibly under a lot of additional stress and at the end of his language skills also have a point. Unfortunately that kind of pressure often brings out the worst in people — which still doesn’t excuse this.

  63. The bad transit rules for passengers from the sub-continent implemented by EU countries are what lead to the rise of ME3. Thanks aeroflot for contibuting to increased success of ME3. Many of my friends exclusively travel on Emirates between US and India and no longer even try to shop for the cheapest airline. Emirates in particular has built such strong loyalty that they can easily expand their a380 fleet and fill up their planes while rest of the airline industry move towards smaller planes.

  64. @VJ — European Union/Schengen transit rules are extremely generous for Indian citizens as in most cases Indians don’t need a visa to transit the Schengen area. In contrast, the United States requires a transit visa of *everyone* transiting through the USA who would otherwise require a visa to enter the USA.

  65. @anthony

    If it was so important to “deport” the Indian-American US citizens, they should have figured out a way to deport them to the US. It’s not like JFK is the only airport Aeroflot flies to, and its also not like they couldn’t have figured out another way with their SkyTeam partners. Sending them back to India only exacerbates the problem (especially depending on what kind of visa they had for India).


    As awful as this behavior was, JFK was an absolute clusterF that weekend. Essentially when the storm hit on Thursday the 4th, JFK closed down but suggested that they would reopen later that day so a bunch of international flights going to JFK took off and then had to be rerouted or go back to their departure point. When the airport opened again on Friday, there was still miscommunication between the airport, the terminals (which aren’t all owned and operated by the Port Authority, which runs JFK), and the airlines and thus all the international flights that were delayed from the day before took off plus the international flights scheduled for Friday, which created a rolling disaster for JFK that didn’t get resolved until that Monday. It still doesn’t excuse the behavior of the Aeroflot guy (who presumably was booking white US citizens on flights that would depart later than the 24 hour visa situation would allow them to stay in Russia), and who should have figured out a way to “deport” the US citizens to the US instead of India, but it should be noted that JFK was a hot mess.

  66. This is absurd! How can you deport someone to country that is NOT their home country?!!? There had to have been a bunch of other places they could have sent such passengers that were at least getting them closer to the US than all the way back to India. I am of Indian decent but my family has been out of India for a century and I have transited through DME a few times without incident so never on Aeroflot obviously. My understanding is that they are solid airline.

    That being said, my gut says this may have been a legitimate case of “you look Indian so you must be an Indian passport holder.” I see there is somewhat of a language barrier airline staff must be able to at least understand English to verify visa and passport information as it is the international language of travel/aviation. I wish there was more of the video so we can discern who he is talking about when he says”the Indians” as he holds up a US Passport. In any case, it is still incredulous that they should be sent to a country that is not their home country especially one so far in the “wrong direction.” I honestly wonder what would have happened to a person who has a Greencard for the US and an invalid Indian visa in a third country passport who happens to be an ethnic Indian?

  67. I think this was possibly a logistical issue that was not properly explained to the passengers. If JFK flights are cancelled and people cannot transit in Moscow for more than 24 hours without a visa, it stands to reason that only some people will be able to be rebooked, particularly on or around Jan 7 when most flights are running full anyway.

    It does seem strange though that Russia’s transit rules are so strict that it compels the airline to return people to their point of origin if they can’t be rebooked within 24 hours.

  68. I think the people attacking the Aeroflot employee here do not understand how strict Russia’s visa rules are. You cannot stay in the country longer than 24 hours without a visa. The employee would have been in *deep poop* if he had not found a way to deport the travelers within 24 hours.

    With the clock ticking, the Aeroflot employee did the best he could. Flights to Europe may have been fully booked and, really, what difference is a flight to Europe compared to a flight back to Delhi? If the passengers had been flown to Rome or London or Paris, they would have then had to fly *back to Moscow* for another connecting flight back to the USA — how is that any different than being sent back to India for a few days?

    Again, it’s possible the agent was behaving in a racist way, but I think we’re simply getting 10 seconds of a video with a lot of facts missing.

  69. If his spoken English is as bad as his written English, that could be a problem.
    Plus, of course, there are ten thousand better routes for just a couple of hundred dollars more to go from India to the US.
    That being said, my two worst flying experiences EVER in traveling to 125+ countries were at Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo in Moscow! Either they look for ways to shake all Americans down or they have terminal ( no pun intended) confusion and/or typical Russian paranoia about the authenticity of your boarding pass, whether email or paper.
    Who in the H uses Moscow as a transit stop?

  70. Of course this is racism! In the same way that I’ve been allowed to transit though FRA without ever required to perform a swab best but have observed countless darker skinned people been pulled side randomly for the test. I sympathize with my citizens who had to suffer through this before ordeal – another reason not to fly aboard aeroflot as if any more were needed. I feel strongly against this since all of my employees in my firm at higher positions are citizens of Indian origin because they were the best and I’d hate to see them judged on the basis of their skin color instead of their accomplishments.

  71. This is also why aeroflot is on my firm’s no-fly list. Flew with them in 2013 to try again, an absolute terrible in-flight experience in business.

  72. I flew with Aeroflot last year. To this day, 174 countries and more 200+ airlines later, the worst flight ever. Total farce on board. I’m not surprised that Aeroflot is capable of hitting new lows with such incompetence.

  73. Does not surprise me given my own experience with Aeroflot back in 2002 when I visited my brother who was studying in Russia at that time. I had planned a 7 day layover in Moscow en route to Bombay and when I checked in for the onward flight to BOM was told that I was offloaded due to overbookings. I was at the airport counter 3 hrs before the flight departure and no their website had not let me check in online. Was told I would be put on a flight 3 days later but I would be responsible for getting my Russia visa extended which would have costed me a couple of hundred bucks as it would need to be processed urgently. After a lot of argument I was asked to pay $50 (which probably was pocketed by the agent) and put on a charter flight operated by Aeroflot to Delhi. Was stressful to say the least.

  74. @karim I. Agree. Many ignorant people are quickly jumping on the bandwagon and blaming Aeroflot.
    Airlines are not immigration police
    They will only follow the orders of the immigration officers, whom may have stated they cannot stay > 24 hrs
    Ok this sd be explained by SU or possibly immigration
    @ Kent. They are not Indian ! However many races ( incl my own ) always cry racism without full knowledge of the events that unfolded nor what happened before and without actually seeing the customer’s documents. But hey the SU employee are Caucasian do it must be racism ?! Then they state all the staff in their company will boycott airline ABC.

  75. Twenty-four hour rule applies to most people. If you’re Eric Snowden, it can be extended to forty days. Just sayin’…

  76. @Prabuddha: Your Russian history is very selective. Read up on it, it is fascinating.

    More generally, the posting of such a video is an invasion of the employee’s privacy in my view.

  77. I don’t doubt there is truth to this story. I’m of South Asian descent, an American citizen and have to travel to Russia and Russian-speaking countries quite a bit for work. I’ve grown up in the US and worked professionally for 20+ years.

    While I’ve experienced some racism in the US, especially since 9/11, I’ve experienced open hostility in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. I’ve even been told not to hire a very qualified Muslim candidate as “his beard is too big and it will give the wrong message to the Russian office.” By the way – I’m a VP of Human Resources.

    I don’t doubt for a second that this type of incident has happened before and happened this time as well.

  78. I’m honestly not surprised.
    Here in Russia Aeroflot is widely known for very poor service, frequent delays or cancellations because of “the weather in Moscow” (so they don’t have to provide anything to the passengers), when all the other airlines are departing the same sunny Moscow airport at the same time with no issues, and the “you could jump off a cliff and I still wouldn’t care attitude”, especially when it comes to domestic flights and even if the problems were caused by Aeroflot itself, not to mention usually rude or apathetic ground staff with very limited English knowledge. Onboard in economy is usually better, but nowhere near the Asian or Middle Eastern carriers, at least in my experience.
    They try their best at PR though, so it’s usually “Aeroflot is the best known brand and the most improved airline”, and not all their shenanigans that gets out and gets published.
    So I’m glad that this story got some attention and feel very sorry for those people.
    I’m based in Moscow and I avoid Aeroflot like a plague, mostly because if anything goes wrong – you’re completely on your own.

  79. If the employee couldn’t speak english properly why is he at the desk of an international airlines handling cross-continental passengers?! This kind of behavior is in-excusable under any circumstances and the airline should be severely penalized and people responsible be held 100% accountable for their bad decisions!

  80. These passengers are dual citizens who checked in at New Delhi using their Indian passports. In Aeroflot’s system they’re shown as being Indians, not Americans.

  81. It does not matter how many passports you hold, or withhold in your suitcase.
    Some people have 3 or 4 passports of different countries, often completely legal.
    But as a passenger you Have to select one identity, I mean one nationality, and one passport, for the entirety of the flight booked. And for the Airline, it does not matter that you have a different passport, or a different name, if you do not use it when checking in.
    For the airline, it matters only with which passport and nationality you booked the flight, and checked in.

    If some passengers checked in as Indian Nationals, having a reason to withhold the information that they also carry a US passport, then the airline has no other means as treating them as nationals of the outgoing country, India.

    Ben, you posted similar stories of people being denied travel before , usually their passport or visa status was not in line with their travel routes. And before you suggested racism behind Airline decisions, driven by administrative regulations. And now you jump on the Anti-Russia bandwagon, because it is mainstream and easy. This is sad.

    You yourself, Ben would have been proactive in such a situation, would have used miles or some money to get a ticket to a nearby destination, like Vilnius, Warsaw, Riga, that do not require Visa for US citizen, and you would have waited and sorted it out from there, maybe flown on to the US, or back to Moscow, when Aeroflot would have given you a green light that now direct flights to the US resumed. And later you would have sorted the ticket cost or Hotel out with Aeroflot – or not, but gotta good story out of that re-routing. Passengers have a certain responsibility, for their route-planning, carrying and declaring the right IDs.

  82. Honestly shocked at how racist most of the comments are in this post. Terrible that Lucky won’t even call these people out or ban them from commenting…

  83. An airline have to return a passenger to the point of origin if they do not hold a visa.

    But I wonder what happened to the FIM (Flight interruption manifest ) Its a document they can issue you to use to pay for a ticket with any other IATA airline to get to your destination.

  84. Im sorry, but I think your being anti Russian for no reason. Obviously, Indian Nationals – because of the 24 hour rule – MUST go back to Deli as that is their home country. Americans are deported back to the US as that is their home country. YOU guys are being racist against Russians.

  85. Travel Dad,

    India has a constitutional ban against its citizens holding dual-citizenship and the ban against dual-citizenship applies to all Indian citizens who are adults. In other words, valid users of regular US passport of Indian ethnic backgrounds have no inalienable right to be admissible to India. That is to say that even ethnic Indians with OCI (glorified visa) status have no guaranteed right to be admissible to India, but all such persons with US citizen passports have an inalienable right to be admissible to the US. And yet some nincompoops at SVO couldn’t see beyond the ethnicity of the US citizen passengers.

    Not so amusingly, in some decades past, Indian airline/airport workers were also known to discriminate against people based on ethnic appearance rather than based on citizenship, and it was such that a European-American using a US passport would be treated better than a comparably-positioned Indian-American using a US passport by Indians working for Indian airlines/airports. It seems like Russia/Aeroflot are sticking to legacy Indian ways.

  86. Exilschwab,

    Indian citizens aren’t ordinarily allowed to hold US passports, due to a constitutional ban against dual-citizenship and multiple passport holding by Indian citizens. And the Indian authorities to do check for these things. 😉

    You can bet that nowadays most every US citizen of Indian ethnic appearance at SVO doesn’t arrive there with an Indian passport. It would be counterproductive for most US citizens to even want to try to a hold a resident Indian passport in an era when non-resident Indians and foreigners of Indian ethnicities are treated better by the Indian government than resident Indians.

    For anyone that believes that Russia doesn’t have a massive racism problem, it’s an example of trying to be an ostrich with its head in the dirt while located in the wintry Siberian tundra.

    Keep banging your head ostriches: Russia has no racism problem; it hasn’t had a neo-Nazi problem; and it hasn’t tried to sponsor racist/xenophobic parties and agendas internationally. Now time to sell those ostriches a bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn. 😉

  87. My inflight experiences with Aeroflot are no worse than with various European and American carriers, but language dynamics and a different cultural approach mean I don’t expect American-style friendly service in the Sky. On the ground, Aeroflot service for transiting passengers is definitely not the industry’s A team.

  88. kq747,

    I have some Indian-born relatives who aren’t Indian citizens, but when they checked in to fly from Sweden to Thailand for vacation, the check-in staff tried to insist they needed Thai visas despite the ticketed itinerary being for a sub-2 week stay in Thailand. This wasn’t the only time I’ve seen such kind of messed up approach from airline ground staff who can’t understand that for travel purposes citizenship generally trumps ethnic appearance and place of birth. Then again we have people like Trump who think US citizen intelligence analysts/operatives can’t be from the US if their ethnic appearance is considered non-European in ways. This incident is the airline version of Trump’s intelligence briefings, most recently with the “pretty Korean lady”.

  89. The Russians are now almost as good at state sponsored comments as the Chinese. Again, just because you don’t have democracy or the rule of law, doesn’t mean you get to be jealous of us who do. Get back to your cabbage soup, dear.

  90. Indian passengers, or at least those who were brought up in India, are very needy though. They harrass cabin crew non-stop, want to be served first, want blankets, pillows, extra blankets, extra drinks. It’s a wonder anyone else gets served. There is more to this than meets the eye.

  91. I truely believe, this discussion is way out of scope of this travel site.

    GUWonder: the Indian government banned US passport holders of Indian decent for a reason from holding also an Indian passport. However this happened a mere 10 years ago. So far it has been easy for US passport holders to keep their Indian passport, if they only travel regularly to India, by using their Indian passport, and not their US passport, and regularly apply for a new one.

    In order to conceal their US citizenship to the Indian authorities those passengers have to use their Indian nationality and passport for the airline registration.
    And then they are Indians for the airline, self-declared Indians. Your argument that this was illegal does not contradict that in reality, and in effect this may be wide-spread practice. No any racism involved. Just following law, and Respecting passengers as what they have declared themselves to be.

  92. Exilschwab, you are mistaken on multiple points above.

    The fact is that India’s constitutional ban against Indian citizens holding dual-citizenship and its ban against Indian citizens using a regular non-Indian citizen passport has been around for far longer than 10 years. It’s been in place for decades longer than there has been a Flyertalk (or its offspring blogs like this one).

  93. Ben, thanks for this awareness. I know this sounds improbable to many… But Russia is still a very long way from US sensibilliteis. Here is my story:

    I was traveling through Russia, few years ago (YES to save money). It was about three in the morning, and a very cold night, it was minus 30F outside. I was waiting in the huge 240,000 sq ft. Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. I was busily chatting with a group of adventurers, all realizing some of their dreams. One British gentleman had just finished climbing a mountain in Pakistan, while his other fellow countryman was coming off a long exploration journey in Thailand.

    One particularly interesting individual was from Bulgaria, with extensive knowledge of the Russian culture. We spoke at length about the long term negative effects of communism on society, with a very pessimistic view of the whole future outlook of the former Soviet Union state. He seemed to be very interested in what I had to say. Suddenly, I heard my name being announced on the loud speaker. I tore myself out of the crowd and reported to the counter.

    When I asked about the nature of my call, I was told that my flight has been moved to a separate terminal, and I was to immediately board a shuttle, so I can meet my flight. I, of course, obliged, and found myself, after a very long and clunky shuttle ride in a much smaller and a rather archaic terminal. There was no sign of technology, and it felt like the pre World War II era environment. Just like any airport I was asked to go through security. This terminal had mostly local Russian passengers, and upon seeing my United States residency, I was asked to step aside and taken to a corner for further examination.

    I was carrying about $800 in cash, and during the pat-down, it was discovered. The Russian looked at me inquiringly. I said, in the calmest way I could, “No problem, this is my money, no problem”. He simply said one word in thick Russian accent which made my hair stand up, “prrroblem”.

    The guards escorted me to a huge unheated room, with only an old wooden table and one metal chair in the middle. I was asked to sit on that chair, and three uniformed guards surrounded me. They fired questions at me in Russian, the problem was that I did not speak any Russian, and they did not speak any English. Hours went by, without any resolution. I was getting a bit concerned, as I realized that nobody actually knew where I was. If something were to happen to me, my family and friends would never find out. As I was getting very discouraged indeed, things took an interesting turn. In walked the Bulgarian fellow that I was talking to earlier.

    He spoke quickly to the guards in fluent Russian and started to walk toward me, expressionless. I was not sure if this was a good thing for me, or bad. I recalled all the bad things I had said to him about Russia, just a few hours ago. Was I being detained by the KGB for speaking against the state? That would be very bad, very bad indeed. I had a sudden feeling of deep disquiet. As he approached me, however, I detected a slight smirk around his mouth, which wholly threw a more positive light on the matter at hand.

    “They are holding my friend from Australia in the next room.” He said, without wasting any time. “I was with him, interpreting.”

    Misery loves company, I suppose. As I felt instantly better, at least, I was not alone in this thing. “What do they want?” I asked the most obviously question.

    The Bulgarian seemed to be enjoying my suspense, and without any sense of urgency he simply said, “$25”.


    “$25”, He repeated. “They want 25 of your American Dollars.”

    “They put me through this for @$#%@#* $25?”

    “It goes a long way for them”, He said flatly.

    Now, I absolutely loath any idea of giving bribes, as it is the biggest underlying catalyst for corruption, but in this case, I didn’t waste any time giving them the money, and within a few minutes I was out of there.

  94. The Indian authorities at exit immigration and customs control have a long history of checking Indian passport passengers for their travel documents to transit/enter the transit and/or destination country. This included looking for visas and residency permits. 😉 How does an Indian citizen show Indian authorities entry allowance for the US without showing a US document of sort that isn’t a passport? They don’t, unless they want to incriminate themselves on the spor.;)

    Back to the drawing board, Exilschwab and Steve. This ain’t kindergarten any longer, so expect to be called out for poor excuses to try to justify this service blunder. 😉

  95. The Indian authorities at exit immigration and customs control have a long history of checking Indian passport passengers for their travel documents to transit/enter the transit and/or destination country. This included looking for visas and residency permits. How does an Indian citizen headed to the US via SVO on SU show Indian authorities entry allowance for the US without showing a US document of sort that isn’t a US passport? They don’t, unless they want to incriminate themselves on the spot.;)

    Back to the drawing board, Exilschwab and Steve. This ain’t kindergarten any longer, so expect to be called out for poor excuses to try to justify this service blunder. Or is it that some consider racism in business to not be a service blunder?

  96. @Steve… that is by far the dumbest comment ever. I don’t think I have met rowdier passengers than our own ignorant American people. And yes, I am an American.

    This is a tremendous error made (racism even) by the Russian airport authorities. No one can enter or leave India without showing immigration documents. All incoming and outgoing passengers must pass through immigration in India. An individual cannot enter/exit India with multiple travel documents as a result of this. On top of that India does not allow dual citizenship – note that one has to return their passport voluntarily. So unless one has a valid US visa and a passport they have not returned to the Indian govt, that individual cannot enter or exit India on their Indian passport since most likely they will not have entry documents for their destination. In the US immigration during departure is handled by the airline at the check-in, which is a bizarre and unusual delegation of duties.

    Frankly, this is why no one from our company, including my Russian colleagues, fly on Aeroflot. What a ****show of an airline.

  97. @Emily

    Indians aren’t rowdy at all. They are fairly ‘quiet’ but they will generally order FAs around by making numerous requests. Want their meals first…multiple drinks…must have multiple blankets…multiple pillows…must have water water water etc. Flights to India are one of the least requested ones by FAs, hence they are unpopular routes and flown with ancient aircraft.

  98. @Steve – ancient aircraft?

    The airline I travel via use new equipment to Delhi – LH, TG, SQ, CX, ANA, AI. I’m flying on the LH A350 to DEL via MUN next week. Cannot speak about the ME3 since I avoid traveling on airline from that region.

  99. As a frequent Aeroflot flier and top tier elite with them, let me weigh in. I will say that Aeroflot by and large has much better customer service than American domestic airlines. The employees tend to be more friendly and more competent, in general. However, Russians are usually very direct and as a rule not the friendliest of people, especially to people they don’t know personally. I rarely have issues with Aeroflot, and the few times I have, it was resolved quickly and efficiently. Of course, as with every company, there are exceptions. As in this case. The problem is that in Russia, you cannot stay in transit in the airport more than 24 hours without a visa. That means that if a passenger is brought to Russia by Aeroflot, then Aeroflot is responsible in that thy must ensure that the passenger complies with Russian immigration law, or pay for that person to be sent back to the point of the flight’s origin, not necessarily to their home country. Aeroflot usually has three daily frequencies to JFK, and they usually are quite full. It’s obvious that they didn’t have enough seats on later flights to rebook everyone. The sticky thing here is that instead of rebooking them on a Skyteam partner airline’s flight with a connection in Europe (Air France, Alitalia and KLM fly to Sheremetyevo), Aeroflot was cheap and sent them back to India to restart the whole journey again on Aeroflot metal. Race for sure played a part, as Russians are quite racist and Aeroflot will not have the backlash for doing it in Russia that a European or American airline would have in their home countries. In the Russian mind, it would be a travesty to send a white person back to India rather than a person of Indian origin. Sad, but reality. I have lived and worked in Russia 5 years, and racism is the norm, as Russia is a state based on Slavic identity and doesn’t have the race issues that the US does.

  100. My view: It is not a racism. In this short video, I saw a lack of English. Instead of telling”passengers from India(as departing place) was told “Indian passengers” which the traveller took as a racial profiling but representative for sure did not meant that but meant as departing place. He was under the stress because of a angry passengers. In US, the agent would call a police in a minute and the video taker would be taken into a custody. If the agent was a racist, the passenger would be still in a Russian jail, for violating the public law or threatening official(15 days custody).That did not happened, so pointing in to racism is a easy card to passenger,disqusting one.He wrote that some other passengers who happened to be white where put to other flights to US. Those passengers where from SGN flight as been written. Most likely SGN flight to SVO arrived earlier to SVO and therefore had a priority. Should the agent just moved the first passengers to last because some US Indian arrived and demanding something??? In that days basically all of flights to US were full due to the weather circumstances, so to save the passenger, Aeroflot return him to point of departure and from there organizing his return to US. As he wrote he got to India, so there was no racism involved but just fulfilling a immigration law in connection with IRROPS handling. He lost a week from job. How many of travellers have lost a week too due to the weather conditions around the world? Ash,snow etc.
    @Icarus The agent is white, not Caucasian. Huge difference, go to Caucasia and search whites there. 🙂

  101. @Kent

    Not all companies but Emirates uses ancient aircraft to India. Cathay / Cathay Dragon deploy some rather dilapidated planes to South Asia, as well as the Mainland China carriers.

  102. @NWE

    Indeed I hate the term ‘caucasian’ to refer to white people. Quite why so many have an aversion to mentioning a person’s color…

  103. @ Lucky Wrote the topic as you did shows your lack of understanding the language barrier but supporting the racial card based of the short video without knowing all the circumstances. If the flight arrives from US, then they US passengers(arriving from) regardless of the ethnity.

  104. I’ve been at that same Aeroflot transit desk in SVO when Alitalia cancelled its SVO-FCO flight and thus I had to wait an extra 8 hours for the next AZ flight. There was an earlier Aeroflot flight but that ticket office told me I had to go to an Alitalia ticketing office (which was outside the transit zone.) Their English is overall good to do their job but I can see how they have issues explaining IRROPS to other passengers especially when under stress/pressure.
    Nowadays I’d only transit in Russia if I have a multiple entry visa or if i have status on any skyteam airline.

  105. Here’s the secret sauce: Indians are not allowed to hold dual citizenship. Many Indians, however, refuse to report their U.S. citizenship to the Indian government (i.e. in order to cancel their Indian passports) and secretly hold two passports (also common with some Japanese citizens). I suspect these Americans were also Indian citizens and may have traveled to Delhi on an Indian passport, but then used the U.S. passport to return home to the USA, as is required by law. This would explain everything.

  106. @Dave

    It’s well known there are ways of circumventing the ban on dual nationality. Many Chinese hold a passport from another country as well as their Mainland Chinese one. This is banned but if they don’t tell China, they won’t know about it…same goes for India.

    Wtf is stormfront? You’re just brainwashed into thinking you’re Caucasian and not ‘white’ because Americans are all hypersensitive.

  107. From the tape: 0:10 Passenger talks to agent: You said that the only option that I have is to go back to Delhi. I said, fine.
    So,he agrees to go back there.Then what makes him mad is that a white passengers arriving from SGN got tickets to US, so he immediately take a racist card from his pocket.

  108. @Anthony

    Again you are wrong you can’t exit India without the customs officials at departure verifying you have the papers stamped along with the entry documents in the US. Essentially this means a paper with a stamp as well as a stamp on the entry passport. You cannot go back to the US on an Indian passport without those stamps and visa for entry.

    TL;dr you cannot use the Indian passport due to exit checks this will get flagged in multiple systems.

  109. @NWE — I think you hit the nail on the head. If there were other travelers (white or purple or black or orange) coming form another country (i.e. Vietnam) where they could not be sent back, but some travelers were coming from a country where they could go back (i.e. Americans of Indian descent to India), then it makes perfect sense that the agent made the decisions he did. This seems like a non-story because a passenger got a little mad that his travel would be disrupted, just like it was for thousands of people at JFK.

  110. First flew Aeroflot in 1981. 2 international and 3 domestic flights in economy. Great entertainment. The flight from Montreal Mirabel(long closed) to SVO was 2/3rds drunken Russian fishermen going home. The flight attendants fought a vicious rear guard action to keep them away from the “regular” passengers. The meat stew dinner that was served out of huge vats in the galley. They had CP Air labels on the vats. I assume it was boarded at Mirabel. Quite tasty and a lot better than most economy class meals I’ve had in the last 35 years. You could even have seconds!!!!! Never flew Aeroflot again until July 2016 in biz class on 3 flights. Service on the 1 domestic service was good. Unfortunately the flights from LHR to SVO on an A330 in both directions was pitiful. The young Russian business man businessman sitting beside me was very embarrassed and and told me it was rarely this bad. I think the Russians must bribe the people at SKYTRAX to get a 4 star rating. Aeroflot tickets are some of the cheapest tickets you can get if you’re flying from North America or Europe to East and South Asia. Buyer beware . There is always a good reason that something is really cheap!!!

  111. @Steve

    LH uses A350 and A380
    SQ uses A380 to DEL and BOM. They also have deployed A350 to BOM
    EY used A380 to BOM for sometime
    Emirates also used A380 before switching to B777
    TG uses 787

    Now a days almost all the airlines are using new aircrafts to Indian cities.

  112. @Animesh

    Don’t forget QR uses 787, ANA uses 787, LH uses 747-8 also and BA with their A380, 787s.

    The market for travel from India is strong and growing. Airlines know this and are increasing flights at a pace greater than DEAL can accommodate. No wonder I read about expansion if DEL and the ground breaking ceremony for another international airport.

    The treatment of passengers in this article is sad. That is why it’s best to avoid airlines not operating from well known hubs.

  113. It seems these days so many non-whites are trigger-happy to pull the race card every opportunity they get. In fact, I truly believe that those people who do, are racists themselves. There are two sides to the story, and I don’t buy his, even with that video footage. They were coming from India and looked Indian so he called them Indians, what’s racist about that? Is it racist calling black people black or Africans nowadays? What about calling white people white or Europeans? Yeah, a little tactless along with inability to handle this situation properly, but Aeoroflot were always notorious for unprofessionalism and incompetence and this dude had to learn it the hard way. Also, there was a language barrier: it was pretty obvious the employee was not able to communicate everything exactly how he wanted, and even got frustrated and walked away. For those who don’t know, Russians are more straight forward and say things more directly and fortunately, are not so preoccupied with political correctness like people are used to here in the West. That plague has not spread so widely over there and no one is going to dance around you and wipe your butt, just because you’re Indian or an Eskimo or whoever you are. I once had a major issue with Aeroflot myself, where they double sold me the same ticket twice and refused to refund one of them. However, I did not go around yelling “antisemitism” because I realized this is Aeroflot and this is Russia, that’s how they do things. I dealt with it differently. So I can understand how pissed this dude was to be sent back to India, but his “racism” claim is nothing but a cheap tactic of an attention whore.

  114. Im still debating the racist angle. However, Indians who live in the USA can be the most privileged obnoxious bunch. I wouldnt be surprised if he behaved badly with the ground staff which led to this situation.
    Most Russians still think of India well due to the close ties during the Soviet era.

  115. @Donald who said you have 2 entries. This is from my e-visa
    “e-Tourist Visa (eTV) once issued on arrival is Only Single Entry, non-extendable , non-convertible & not valid for visiting Protected/Restricted and Cantonment Areas.”

  116. armpeet,

    It’s mainly racists and the apologists for racism of sorts that talk about and berate a claim of bigotry as being “the race card” most every time someone appropriately recognizes racism in action. The fact that multiple US citizens of ethnic European appearance were allowed to remain in Moscow to make an IRROPs connection to the US while US citizens of ethnic South Asian background on the same route were being rejected from being treated the same and instead sent to India speaks volumes about ethnicity-based discrimination.

    This wasn’t a situation of discrimination based on passengers’ passport ; it was a situation of discrimination based on something beside passenger’s passport. Discrimination based on ethnic appearance? Many would see that as racism, but racists and the apologists for government and big business often try to write off due criticism by using undue means and lousy excuses. This situation is no exception, and racism needs to be addressed. Crying about “the race card” won’t disappear the due criticisms of racism, but better luck next time in trying to squelch criticism of unseemly discrimination. 😉

  117. @GUWonder

    So the apocalyptic weather conditions played no factor? I guess God was being racist against Indians by deciding to inflict such awful weather that it would cancel their flight…

    How we even know those ‘white’ passengers from SGN were going to US? It’s hearsay. Even if they did…maybe they were first in the queue. Maybe they had status. Maybe they were business passengers. Maybe they had been waiting longer.

    All this “I’m black…I’m brown…something bad happened so it must be because I’m black…brown” is a disgusting privileged attitude.

  118. @Jared

    NH also uses a 767 to Delhi. It’s hardly cutting edge. It uses a 787 to Bombay because it has the range for it. And since when did BA use an A380 to India?!

  119. Steve,

    This wasn’t a situation of discrimination based on weather or passengers’ passport ; it was a situation of discrimination based on something beside passengers’ passports. And the primary factor of discrimination for the passengers on the DEL-SVO-US routes for this flight certainly seems to have included discrimination based on perceived ethnicity. And such discrimination is a form of racism. Aren’t you a fan of racist discrimination? Would it be correct to recall something about you being a fan of racist profiling too, or are you going to blame that on the weather too? 😉

  120. If one passport is used for check-in/booking of the flight and another passport is used to enter/exit a country, is airline ALLOWED to treat you as any other nationality besides the info they have from booking?

    Airlines do not have separate passport field for departure and return, if you used one passport on outbound, does that mean you are “stuck” with that identity even if you plan on using a different passport for part of the trip? I’m interested in this topic, as I have been using other passport when it was convenient (no visa for layover country), but I had no issues in airside transits and always kept it clear in my head (one passport for airside, another for layover country).

  121. @Marija: What airlines are allowed to do and what should do are probably different. When you fly to USA you must enter Advance Passenger Information on the airline’s website or at the airport check-in with the specific passport/visa that you intend to use to enter the USA. Therefore in the case here, the US citizens would have had to enter their US passport information and therefore be “treated” as US Citizens (it is virtually impossible for them to have a US passport and US visa in another passport) and all US passport holders must use their US passport to enter/exit the USA.

    As many people have mentioned as is relevant to this specific situation, you cannot legally have an Indian and US passport and immigration officials in India would check for an entry stamp upon exit as well as ask for proof that you can travel to the USA legally i.e. you cannot use an Indian passport to enter/exit India and show US passport to demonstrate travel authorization to the USA. My home country on the other hand does allow this.

  122. Guys, a lot of Indians do secretly maintain two passports, so it’s possible something like that was involved here.

    Regardless, this is a non-story. The guy even posted on Facebook that he wanted to “sue Aeroflot.” Give me a break. This was Aeroflot sending people back to the country from which they flew because of immensely irregular operations at JFK. It was also a holiday period in Orthodox Russia (New Year is later than in Europe), so flights to/from Europe and the USA were probably booked solid. Some “white” passengers were not deported to Vietnam, like the Indian couple was to Delhi, because Americans need a visa to visit Vietnam and can’t just “show up” and be admitted.

    It’s not like the guy was flying Rome to Moscow to JFK and they decided to deport him to Delhi instead of back to Rome. No, he was flying Delhi to Moscow to JFK, so they simply deported him back to Delhi because that was the most logical place, given the 24-hour rule and available flights.

    I’m a super-woke-Leftist-dual-citizen-of-Europe-and-USA-globalist-guy and I can see that this was clearly not an act of racism.

  123. This is the first time I’m hearing that online check-in is actually validating your passport and visa requirements. While you SHOULD (by US law) enter passport that you intend to use for US destination landing, all airlines are just informing you that it is YOUR personal obligation to validate visa requirements for destination and any transit points. And while check in personnel is (in theory, at least) obligated to validate that your passport is valid and meaningful, there is no direct integration with local immigration on which passport is allowed for transit and destination. The lack of “exit” immigration in North America is obfuscating the fact that check-in and immigration are two completely separate points, and using two different passports for both is entirely possible. I still don’t know (if something like this does happen to me), when IRROP strikes, can I just randomly pull passport X (out of any that I have) and demand that I be treated as citizen X and thus deported to the country X? I don’t know what are the rules for airside, as for entering the country, the passport that is used for immigration entry point is the one that will apply, regardless if you have/not have local citizenship. If one uses German passport to enter Germany, no US embassy can protect him, regardless if one has valid US passport.

    I’m 100% sure that there is lots of racism and prejudice in Russia (and plenty of people will mansplain it away), but this somehow does not fit the simplistic mold that internet at large assigned it into.

  124. @Marija: There is an onus on the airlines to validate passport and visa information as they are responsible for covering the cost of send passengers back if they failed to to validate the
    information at the point of embarkation and also can be fined thousands of dollars per passenger. The advanced passenger information you enter at online check-in will ask for US passport number/PR card number/visa number and expiry dates and this information is passed on to Homeland Security in the USA to be validated so this information is vital and is the same information that is automatically pulled up at the immigration desk/kiosk upon arrival into the USA.

  125. Just because they have good looking stewardesses, yes, I am not PC, does not mean the airline and the ground personnel are good. Buyer beware!

  126. @GUWonder

    It would be discrimination if all things were equal, but they weren’t. If there were white Americans and Asian Americans on the same flight, and one was allowed through and the other wasn’t, due to no other fact other than skin colour, then sure it’s discrimination. However that isn’t true in this case…there were a huge number of variables:

    – Christmas in Russia
    – Exceptionally rare weather in NYC closed down airports
    – Americans cannot be deported back to Vietnam as they would not have a visa to re-enter.
    -Language barrier
    – These Asian American passengers were in economy, on the cheapest tickets most likely and had no priority with the airline. Other passengers with status, or in premium cabins would have priority over any flights to US.

    What you are doing is being a racist yourself by failing to acknowledge the logical explanations which could give rise to these events.

  127. @Anthony

    You are ignoring reality because you are ignoring what has been said over and over. Between the US and India, citizens of either country CANNOT hold BOTH passports. The allowed variations are an Indian Passport, for Indian citizens, or a US passport with either visa (this is a printed visa attached to your US passport before being allowed to visit India even if you are a Person of Indian orgin) OR PIO/OCI card or booklet. You cannot swap between US passport and Indian passport for entry to either country, full stop. Indians who are citizens of OTHER countries may potentially be able to hold an Indian passport and another, however Visa and PIO/OCI card issuance then becomes a problem later and they must still only use one passport for entry and exiting.

    Secondly if the person has a visa stamp rather than an OCI/PIO card they must remain overseas at least 60 days before re-entering India as a mandatory gap. In fact the OCI card/book is the only way they (the passenger) would have been allowed back to India at all without running into customs and immigration on the Delhi side detaining them. As has been said again and again, you cannot enter India using an Indian passport then exit India using a US passport. The immigration officials check for entry stamps and paperwork on your passports.

    TL;DR again: One passport had entry and exit stamps correctly. This was likely the US passport seen in video. There is a very high likelihood that the agent in video saw either 1) OCI/PIO booklet or 2) saw only passengers ethnicity and made the incorrect assumption that they were only allowed to go back to India.

  128. Steve,

    It’s racists who try to explain away racism that does indeed exist and try to pin accusations of racism on those who rightfully consider its existence in circumstances such as this.

    Failing to acknowledge a logical explanation of racism as being a factor in events such as this is something I’d expect of racists. It seems to be what you’ve done above by entertaining various possibilities while being biased against acknowledging the possibility of racism being a factor in this travel situation. Who’s the racist? 😉

  129. @GUWonder

    So if you have 100 black people in the economy line and 10 Asian people in the priority line, is it racist to let the black people wait, since the Asians are allowed in front?

  130. @GUWonder

    Would you rather the airline takes the economically illiterate decision to let economy passengers fly in business seats, whilst leaving business passengers behind?

  131. The truth is, there isn’t enough evidence to say whether racism exists here, since nobody had the full facts.

    Heaven help an accused if you were on a jury. You would hang the plaintiff before the trial finished…

  132. I read that the guy wanted to sue Aeroflot. Good luck!! Maybe he could try to sue them in the USA, since they operate there, but good luck getting legal standing over something that happened in the airline’s home country. US courts have no jurisdiction on something that occurred abroad and is not illegal in that country. And Russian courts would laugh at him if he tried to sue there.

  133. There is nothing sinister or racist. Aeroflot had to dispatch a planeful of people within hours, to avoid the immigration-related consequences(incidentally, nothing tragic in that also, they don’t send people to camps for overstaying visa). Rules require routing to port of origin, or port of destination. With flights to US in a state of funk all over Europe, they returned those returnable to India to India. These are the risks of flying via countries you can’t get into, and one takes them consiously, to save money, and that is that. As for the rest of it: political correctness did not take root in Russia, and Russians routinely refer to people by ethnicity, race, body type, etc.,without being actually being racist. It may indeed sound abrasive, but you can’t quite expect the whole world to subscribe to American sensitivities and verbal equivocation. Hence, it will be Indian, or Turkish, and not “Indian-American”, or “holder of Indian passport” in Russia, so get over this- no offence meant. Finally, Aeroflot: reading silly comments from those who never flew them is funny. At this point , it is the best airline in Sky Team, newest planes, best food, at least in business, professional and courteous service. Falls short of premium Asian airlines (although food in Aeroflot business is better than Singapore business, for example), but not by much , and is certainly better than any US carrier. Intra-european flights in business is actually business seat, and not an expensive joke offered by, say, Lufthanza or BA. It is all consequent to gigantic infusion of money into equipment, airports, and training during the oil peak, and is likely to deteriorate, but for now – enjoy.

  134. Not ‘deported’: sent back to beginning of journey, which was India. Which is probably why they said they were Indian passengers. Also storms never affect the entire US: it’s simply too big. Who knows where the other passengers were going? Just another baseless claim of racism that shouldn’t have been given any press.

  135. @ A : to apologists of racism, every hate incident is holy and passable. Small wonder you interpreted so! ( I am an African-American ).

  136. struth!, according to some posters, all White’s were flying business class, and black and Indian (actual Indian Citizens) were flying economy. Now if that’s not prejudice, what is?. One guy is comparing this debacle to how he was double sold a ticket and how he did not go round “yelling” that it was anti-semitism. As if the incidents are comparable. I think you guys need to take a long hard look at yourselves. See the world through the eyes of the other. The real issue here is that the Aeroflot staff member was calling them “indian passengers” whilst holding their U.S passport. He mentioned visa. So he would have been aware that they were not Indian citizens.

    Some posters are saying the couple were “pushy”. Of course, if the couple were white, you’d simply say “they were being assertive”.

  137. Personally i will never take a flight on a russian plane or which lands in russia…
    But the problem here has to do with dual citizenship:
    They boarded that plane in India as INDIAN CITIZENS… and therefor they remain as such for the russian company regardless of how many different passports they carry…
    So. in the event they are not welcome at any airport… the airline is obliged to take them back to the place where they boarded that airplane. PERIOD.

    That’s the way it goes with any airplane landing at any international airport, where passengers are not welcome, even if they have a visa to visit.

  138. hmmm….we have some psychopaths or sociopaths in the forum.

    Bttao – Proof? Without proof, everything is just bowwow. Show solid evidence to back your statements.

    Steve…did some Indian nick your job?

    Next time Russia can deport some white Americans back to England or Ireland.

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