UNFRIENDLY SKIES

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 | Uncategorized

I don’t fly anywhere very often.  But if I have to fly somewhere sometime soon, I know which airline I won’t be taking:

Delta Air Lines is currently working on adding Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam of partnering companies, which already includes (amongst others) such foreign airlines as Aeroflot, AeroMexico, AirEuropa, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, Kenya Airways, Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines. As a routine matter – and an obviously necessary one at that, any airline is required to comply with all applicable laws in every country in which it does business, and indeed to enforce those laws in granting passage to its customers on travel to those countries. Should a passenger arrive at his foreign destination without the proper documentation (such as a valid passport and visa), that passenger may not merely be denied entry but Delta itself may be fined or even, ultimately, forbidden from doing business there. Thus Delta (like other airlines) takes upon itself the responsibility of ensuring that every boarding passenger is in full compliance with the laws of the country of destination.

All that is well and good, except for one thing in this case: the Saudi Arabian government prohibits entry into the country for those who hold Israeli passports, those whose passports have an Israeli arrival or departure stamp, or those who were born in Israel. Delta’s partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines will thus put it in the unenviable position of respecting and enforcing these restrictions, and thus discriminating against anyone brazen enough to have traveled to or from Israel, whatever the occasion.

But if this isn’t problematic enough for you, consider a few other implications. Saudi Arabia is, as is well-known, a country in which Islamic law is rigidly enforced, and there are a number of aspects of these laws which will now fall into Delta’s purview to respect and enforce. Although you are permitted to practice your own religion privately there, the public practice of any religion other than Islam is illegal; this means you can bring a Bible into the country but you better not bring more than one, or any quantity of religious literature, lest you be thought to be proselytizing. Homosexual behavior and adultery are illegal and can carry the death penalty. And in general, women, think twice about traveling there: women visitors are required to be met by an appropriate male sponsor, if you are married to a Saudi man (even if you are an American citizen) you will require his explicit permission to leave the country, if you are unmarried you will require the permission of your father or male guardian, and if you have a child you will not be able to leave the country with him or her without the father’s written agreement.

UPDATE: More here.

18 Comments to UNFRIENDLY SKIES

Katherine
June 23, 2011

That last quoted paragraph explains why no one should want to go to Saudi Arabia. It is extremely restrictive. I know of Muslims who moved there from Egypt and came back because they couldn’t take it. No Western woman, Christian or otherwise, should ever marry a Saudi.

As to Delta’s involvement, though, the article says correctly that airlines are liable if they permit people to board their flights to any country where those people cannot be admitted by local law. They check visas and any other requirements. For Saudi and some other strict Muslim destinations, some businessmen have two passports. To go into Saudi they use the one without Israeli stamps.

I think the best plan is just to stay away from the place until or unless it becomes human.

The Little Myrmidon
June 23, 2011

The advantages to this partnership – what were they again?

wyclif
June 23, 2011

Watch this video from a customer to see why you should avoid Delta:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SIF-R2lzek

Unfortunately, Delta is the only carrier for my region (PHL) that flies direct to Israel. On every trip I’ve made there they’ve lost my luggage.

wyclif
June 23, 2011

PRO TIP: if you’re planning a trip to the Middle East, particularly the Holy Land, make sure you hit Egypt (if included on your itinerary) first, THEN Israel. Doing the reverse can cause some problems, but here’s my tip: at Israeli customs, if you ask they will graciously oblige you by putting the Israeli stamp on a separate, removable piece of passport-sized paper for your convenience.

When my then-girlfriend, now-wife who had been working in Israel for 10 years dropped me off at Ben Gurion airport after Stage 1 of our courtship, I was detained by Israel authorities because of the neighbourhoods I had visited. Israeli security is VERY, VERY, good.

Kathy C
June 23, 2011

I’m in favor of a boycott for Delta. They are not responsible for Saudi Arabia’s behavior, but by transporting people there they are enabling it. And no, I do not think they deserve to be able to make a living by partnering with Saudi Arabia. It’s the same as the boycott South Africa movement.

Duane
June 23, 2011

waiting to hear the outrage from 815 in 3…2…1… (crickets)

carl
June 23, 2011

None of this outrage really has anything to do with Delta and Saudi Arabian Airlines forming a partnership per se. People really seem to be saying ‘American airlines should not fly into Saudi Arabia.” That’s a little different from complaining about the partnership. Delta is already partnered with airlines that fly there. Air France for example.

A list of airlines that currently provide service to Saudi Arabia.

Flights to SA

carl

LaVallette
June 24, 2011

Another example of the unlimited variety of The Faustian Deal!!!

Katherine
June 24, 2011

wyclif, for every Delta horror story I could find one for the other American carriers. My million-mile husband flies American Airlines only when there is absolutely no other choice. Pilots are fine. Large numbers of gate agents are unhelpful and unconcerned.

Confessor
June 24, 2011

Questions:

Is the problem with Saudi Arabia or is it Islam in particular?

How many other countries on this planet forbid women to drive, to attend school, to walk unescorted by a near relative? How many other countries stone a woman for the suspicion of adultery or fornication (but not the male), consider a woman of less value than a man, marry little girls off to grown men, use little boys as sex toys, practice beheadings, torture, maiming, honor killings, suicide bombings and mass murder in the name of their merciless unforgiving god?

And why would anyone want to travel or do business with these people?

Katherine
June 24, 2011

Pakistan and Afghanistan come to mind, Confessor, as well as, in some respects, Iran. There’s a common thread there … let me see …

On the other hand there are Muslim countries which do not follow most of the practices you mention. Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt (at this time) are on that list.

Tonestaple
June 24, 2011

Sent to Delta this morning:

What is this I read about Delta hooking up with Saudi Arabia? I am not a frequent flier by any means and will do all I can to avoid flying. But if I do fly, since my family lives on the other side of the country, Delta has always been the way to go. It was on Delta that I took my very first flight ever, and when I lived in Atlanta, Delta was always the only choice. But if you continue this nonsense with Saudi airlines, I will fly United (Yeccchh, ptui) before I ever fly Delta again.

You will be discriminating against all manner of American citizens, most especially Jews, and that is absolutely disgraceful. You will be responsible for treating women like sub-humans as is dictated by the Koran. You will be subordinating yourself to one of the nastiest countries in the entire world, one with no respect for the human rights of anyone besides Muslim males.

I cannot imagine that Delta expects to make enough money off of this deal with Saudi Arabia to make up for business it won’t get from now on in the US. This is a disgraceful deal and I hope that, now that you are learning more about what you will have to do and what you will have to support to make it happy, you will cancel it as soon as possible.

Dave
June 24, 2011

I’m mostly with Carl on this. He pointed out that SkyTeam already has members who fly to Saudi Arabia. So do the other two major airline alliances, Oneworld (British Airways) and Star Alliance (Lufthansa). So if being in an alliance with someone flying to Saudi Arabia means a boycott, we should have all been avoiding Delta already – and American, United, Continental and US Airways too.

It is worth noting that no US flagged airline flies to Saudi Arabia with its own airplanes. No doubt, serving a country like Saudi Arabia is not good for PR.

There is undeniable symbolism in admitting the Saudi national carrier into SkyTeam. By doing so it lets people think that Delta endorse the country of Saudi Arabia. Whether the PR hit is worth gaining access to the markets SAA serves is something that Delta will find out.

Anonymous
June 24, 2011

When we went to Israel with a Christian group 35+ years ago – we flew EL AL out of NYC. The security was tight and the flight was great – except for the cigarette smoke and the fact that bathrooms began to smell like portalets that needed servicing about halfway over.

Air travel is much less pleasant since 9/11/01. I will only fly now if there is no other choice or the journey is absolutely necessary…especially nowadays. Last time I flew four or five years ago, everything in my suitcase had been riffled through and rearranged. I did not like that one bit. Now, they are going beyond the pale.

It galls me to see that people have to give up so much of their dignity and humanity to do so. It seems like a being a victim of assault, or running a gauntlet or like those WWII Nazi movies herding people onto boxcars. I would not allow them to grope me (or slap anyone who attempted it)and end up in prison for assault. One assault per lifetime is quite enough.

Sasha
June 25, 2011

The real and permanent solution to the Islâmic problem – which, most unfortunately and to our woe, won’t likely happen – is to deport ALL Muslims (every last man, woman and child – and without papers!) from the West UNLESS SPECIFIC individuals who insist on staying publicly and repeatedly perform such acts of blasphemy so as to ensure that their going to even a relatively-moderate Islâmic country would guarantee their deaths!!!! [And even then, they would have to be under constant surveillance...] Those Muslims born here and who don’t have ethnic ties to a Muslim country (especially those who converted from non-Muslim status) would be forced to Irân (if Shi’ite) or Saudi Arabia (if Sunni or anything else!).

[Naturally, ALL Westerners currently in "dar al-Islâm" would be expected to flee it ASAP lest they 1) get seized as hostages and/or 2) end up considered as traitors to the West!!]

Once Islâm and the West are in this way completely segregated from each other (with any and all commerce being cut to the barest bones!!), THEN much of this abnormally-tight security could be dispensed with once and forever!

Until then, it’s best to avoid any and all air travel, period!! [Besides, in a growing percentage of cases, one can enjoy virtual travel of a sort on Google Maps' street-view feature: with the panoramic images often available on specific roads, one can really use the feature and feel as if one's truly travelling over there!]

In fact, much as I positively hate Obama and his fellow-leftists, they have just ONE good point: we would do well to bring back our railroads in the guise of high-speed rail (travelling at 300-400 km/h) would end much of the air traffic between centres spaced closely together.

[If one has to be at an airport at least 1 hour ahead of time for a domestic flight taking one hour, this way places within an 800-kilometre (500-mile) radius could thus travel by train as much as 4 times as fast as by bus AND be amply competitive to the aeroplanes. Furthermore, such trains could carry far more passenger-volume than any bus or plane!!!]

As to the energy needed to power those preferably all-electric trains: using both nuclear + natural (sun, wind, tides) energy would quickly help cut oil prices as well as the resultant air-pollution rather significantly.

Sasha
June 25, 2011

In ALL events (for the here and now), if I had to travel by air, yours truly would mercilessly shun Delta and any other carriers that want to implement ANY non-Western (particularly Islâmic) regulations anywhere and under any circumstances…

Sasha
June 25, 2011

Fifth paragraph of big posting above: after the parenthetical clause “travelling at 300-400 km/h”), one needs “, which” to complete that part of the sentence…

wyclif
June 27, 2011

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