Many of the questions we received last week about Saudi Arabian Airlines’ plan to join SkyTeam were inspired by an article from Religion News Service, a wire service that provides coverage of religious and ethical issues.
That article, which was posted at USA Today, the Huffington Post and elsewhere, was ultimately retracted for what the news service’s editors acknowledged was “incomplete information” about the issue. In an Editor’s Note, the Religion News Service apologized for “any unintended implication that Delta would be adopting policies of the Saudi government.” They also said they were taking steps to improve their internal editor process to avoid such mistakes in the future.
Here’s the full text of the Editor’s Note from Religion News Service:
RELIGION NEWS SERVICE EDITOR’S NOTE:
The RNS story on Delta Air Lines’ pending partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines that was distributed on June 23 contained incomplete information about Saudi visa policies and U.S. Jews’ ability to fly Delta flights to Saudi Arabia. The story was not fully edited according to RNS standards:
- While Saudi Arabia does not issue visas to citizens carrying Israeli passports, Saudi officials say an Israeli stamp in a U.S. passport is not a barrier to entry, even for a stop in transit.
- While Saudi Arabia does not allow non-Islamic religious articles within its borders, religious identity and a passenger’s religious articles are not barriers to flights on either Delta or Saudi Arabian Airlines flights.
- Airline alliance programs typically allow passengers on one airline to book tickets on another, or redeem frequent flyer points on partner airlines. On Friday, Delta said such “code-sharing” agreements will not be part of its alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines, nor will Delta passengers be able to redeem Delta frequent flyer miles on the Saudi airline.
RNS takes very seriously its commitment to accuracy, balance and thorough reporting, and the June 23 story failed to meet those expectations. Steps are being taken to correct and improve our internal editing process. We regret that the story was transmitted with incomplete information, as well as any unintended implication that Delta would be adopting policies of the Saudi government.
Today we’re still getting a lot questions from you about our association with SkyTeam and Saudi Airlines. We realize a lot of these remain unanswered, so we’ve compiled a list of the top questions we’re seeing in hopes of shedding further light on this issue.
Q: Will Saudi Air’s membership into SkyTeam affect Delta customers?
A: Simply put, no. We don’t intend to codeshare or share any reciprocal benefits (such as frequent flier benefits) with Saudi Air.
Q: Will any customers of Delta ever be discriminated against on their flight?
A: Absolutely not. As a global airline, we don’t discriminate against any of our customers in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.
Q: What’s your association with SkyTeam?
A: We’re a member of the 14-member global airline alliance based in Amsterdam.
Q: Do you operate any service to Saudi Arabia?
A: No, we don’t codeshare with any airline on flights to that country.
Q: Do you have any association with Saudi Air?
A: Yes, we have a standard industry agreement with them, which allows passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers. We have similar agreements with Saudi Air that American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines have as well.
We’ve gotten questions today from you, our concerned customers, following an article about Saudi Arabian Airlines joining SkyTeam (the global airline alliance that includes Delta as a member). After listening to many of your thoughts today, we’d like to take this opportunity to share some information and help to clarify some of the questions we know you have.
First and foremost, I think one of the most important things to mention here is that Delta does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against anyone in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.
That said, some have raised questions about whether Saudi Arabian Airlines’ membership in SkyTeam means Delta is adopting any type of policies that could present barriers to travel for some passengers, including Jewish customers. For this particular concern, it’s important to realize that visa requirements to enter any country are dictated by that nation’s government, not the airlines, and they apply to anyone entering the country regardless of whether it’s by plane, bus or train.
We, like all international airlines, are required to comply with all applicable laws governing entry into every country we serve. You as passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary travel documents, such as visas and certification of required vaccinations, and we’re responsible for making sure that you have the proper documentation before you board.
On a personal note, I want to share with you all that I’m proud to work at a global airline that serves a diverse customer base with an extremely diverse workforce, and I hope this blog has helped answer your questions on this important topic.
Delta Media Team