Sometimes I just feel bad for airlines, and this is one of those cases of a PR nightmare that has no basis. Saudi Arabian Airlines is set to join the SkyTeam alliance, which includes airlines like Delta, Air France, Korean Air, etc.
To get a visa for Saudi Arabia you’re asked what your religion is, and if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport you can’t get a visa for Saudi Arabia.
Yet some people are blasting Delta for this, which I just can’t understand. This Huffington Post article takes an especially radical stance on the issue.
Let’s be clear about this. Delta doesn’t fly to Saudi Arabia. Delta doesn’t even codeshare with Saudi Arabian Airlines. Also, visa requirements are totally outside of an airline’s control.
The worst part about this isn’t even that Delta is getting the blame here for something totally outside of their control, but the fact that all three major alliances have flights to Saudi Arabia, which have the same exact requirements.
Air France is already a part of SkyTeam, and they fly to Saudi Arabia. British Midland, Lufthansa, Swiss, and Turkish fly to Saudi Arabia, and they’re part of the Star Alliance. British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Iberia fly to Saudi Arabia, and they’re part of OneWorld. So what on earth makes this any different?
Beyond that, Delta doesn’t have unilateral control over which airline joins the alliance. And it’s not like you should even be mad at Saudi Arabian Airlines, since you don’t need a visa if you’re only connecting. It’s the government of Saudi Arabia you should direct your anger at.
Yet you look at the post Delta made on their blog, and the number of people promising to boycott Delta is ridiculous.
The first comment reads as follows:
I will not be flying Delta Airlines again. Your silly excuse is sickening. You should refuse to enter any relationship with any county in which it is illegal to carry a Bible openly. You make me sick!
Just to be clear, folks, I think the policy is ridiculous. But it’s the government’s policy. Delta has exactly zero part in this. And if you’re going to claim they do, then I’d love to hear whether you’re boycotting the Star Alliance and OneWorld as well, as your airline choices will be pretty slim at that point…
There are lots of things to bash Delta over (how about some real systemwide upgrades for your top tier elites?), but this ain’t one of them…