Delta adopting a “no Jew” policy? C’mon now…

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…

Filed Under: Delta, Media
  1. “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…”
    Or a functioning award engine on

    I feel bad for Delta but I feel even worse for our country since it’s full of morons who think this policy is true.

  2. I followed the link Drudge posted earlier yesterday and I was scratching my head to figure out what was happening. The first article I read was so poorly worded and the conclusion I came to was that it was completely blown out of proportion and misguided. In the end I was right and the only person Delta should not be flying was the person who propagated the rumors to start with (if they could ever figure that out).

  3. Saudi Arabia is one of America’s ‘friends’ in the Middle East. You can find many US companies and US military bases in SA. Many US citizens and soldiers are located/stationed in SA.

    Some might even say the good relation between the US and SA is important in keeping Israel safe(r)…

    + SA is a ridiculous country that we (the West) work with on a daily basis
    + Everybody is a hypocrite, including you and me 🙂
    + There are always people flaming on the internet and you shouldn’t take them too seriously – I bet they will all be flying Delta with the next promotion 🙂

  4. Oh no Ben, you didn’t take the most pro-jew possible stance, you must by default be anti-semitic, better be careful, you don’t want to become the next Galliano.

  5. What’s hillarious is not only that the Saudis have been pretty clear for years that Jews are simply not denied visas based on their religion (only for Israeli nationality, as they don’t recognize or have official diplomatic relations with Israel), but even if it were official policy — which it hasn’t been for years — it is and has obviously been bserved only in the breach. I know at least a dozen Jews who have had business dealings in KSA from the 1970s on. Bottom line is that if the Saudis want you to visit, then you get the visa; if not, you don’t.

    Leave Delta out of it.

  6. Fine, let them all never fly delta again. All the more upgrades available for the rest of us 😀

  7. First no food on long flights, then no pillows. Now no Jews. lol. A sad reflection on our populous that this story is still doing the rounds.

  8. I’m Jewish. This is really much a do about nothing. Do I condone the policy? Absolutely not. Do I plan to ever visit Saudi Arabia? No. Will I continue flying Delta? Yes.

  9. as219 is absolutely right. Saudi Arabia as a country does not allow foreigners entry without a specific reason, generally an economic incentive. The tourist visas are only for very expensive group tours where you must stay with your guide 24/7. There is a very famous quote of Ibn Saud concerning this ideal: “My kingdom will survive only insofar as it remains a country difficult to access, where the foreigner will have no other aim, with his task fulfilled, but to get out.”

    If you have a good business reason to visit Saudi Arabia, they will let you in, regardless your religion and potentially even with Israeli stamps in your passport. You may think Saudi Arabia a racist, anti-Semitic theocracy, but their visa rules don’t really reflect that reality.

    Arguably Israel is much worse in that sense. If you are an American who enjoys visa free travel to Israel, but are of Palestinian descent, you will likely be denied entry on arrival.

    I’m trying really hard not to move into a political debate, but if I rolled my eyes any harder at the Rabbis article, I’d go blind.

  10. Quote

    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!


    And there is our problem. If ALL countries would NOT allow to carry a bible openly, the world would be a so much better place. Especially the USA.

  11. @Lucky – While the criticism toward Delta is misplaced, Saudi Arabian Airlines is owned by the government, so perfectly reasonable to direct criticism toward them for the government’s policies. They are one and the same.

    This is the same government, thus airline, that is ranked at the bottom of middle east nations for political and civil rights, worse than Iran, and ranked along the likes of N. Korea, Burma, and Cuba on a global basis. There is no comparison between them and the other airlines you mentioned.

    That same government is soon to be a part of SkyTeam along with Delta.

  12. Isn’t there a terrible irony in Americans complaining about another country’s immigration policies and processes?

  13. It’s not really Delta that’s adopting this policy, Delta doesn’t even fly to Saudi Arabia…looks like whiny people looking for a quick and easy lawsuit.

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