Delta says it won’t ask customers to disclose religion


(JTA) — Delta Airlines announced that it will not ask its customers to disclose their religious affiliation, despite partnering with Saudi Arabian Airlines.

The announcement followed a controversy two months ago when a Delta spokesperson suggested that, because Saudi Arabian Airlines was joining the SkyTeam Alliance, Delta might have to refuse boarding to passengers with Israel stamps on their passports. The Saudi government requires that travelers disclose their religion, and American Jews and others with Israeli stamps in their passports have been refused visas to the country.

At the time, the Delta spokesperson said that the airline “must comply with all applicable laws in every country it serves” because it would face fines if a passenger arrives at a destination without proper documents.

In a letter sent last week to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Delta Senior Vice President Andrea Fischer Newman wrote: “Delta employees do not currently and will not in the future, request that customers declare their religious affiliation. We would also not seek such information on behalf of any SkyTeam partner or any airline.”

Delta officials met with the Wiesenthal Center’s Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper at the center’s headquarters in Los Angeles to clarify the airline’s policy.

“Delta has now done the right thing, sending a signal to the Saudis that it will not cooperate with Riyadh’s policy of religious apartheid," Cooper said in a statement. "We hope that all other U.S.-based airlines around the world will declare and follow a similar policy. We also urge the Obama administration to lead the way in demanding that the Saudis drop their overt policy of religious discrimination."

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