Take it for what you will. Arrived at Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO) today aboard a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt. Headed straight for the train station to purchase our tickets to Rome (14 Euros per person). Kiosk asks for credit card. I insert my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and the machine immediately asks for my PIN. Ruh roh. I entered my usual PIN (which I know is only good for cash advances, but figured I had nothing to lose), rejected twice. Cancel transaction, and try again.
This time, I insert my new Marriott Rewards Premier Card which includes “Chip and Signature” technology. Machine immediately processes transaction, and prints 2 train tickets. Mrs MJ’s Chip & Signature Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa worked just fine at an airport cafe today as well. Inserted into a card reader, not swiped. Machine spit out a receipt to be signed. I have to wonder how much longer it will be before Chase introduces chip technology for its Sapphire Preferred card product? One would think that a card marketed to people that travel would already have it.
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How one ever feels sorry for a company, especially an airline, I’ll never know. But this Saturday afternoon, I’m officially sorry for Delta Air Lines and every one of its employees from the CEO on down. The little maelstrom created by this Huffington Post article boggles the mind. While the author is certainly entitled to his opinion, the fact that this issue has taken off the way it has leads me to wonder about our collective future as a country.
The issue at hand is that Delta Air Lines is a member of the Sky Team Alliance along with a plethora of other airlines, and the Alliance has voted to admit Saudi Arabian Airlines as a member. Delta and every other airline is required to comply with certain laws for each country it serves or connects passengers to. In other words, Delta does not, and will not be flying to Saudi Arabia, but if they happen to carry a passenger that connects to a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight headed to Saudi Arabia, they have to comply with certain laws regarding travel to Saudi Arabia. One of those is the need to obtain a Visa for travel if you’re stopping in Saudi Arabia (none required if you’re connecting through).
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requires a Visa, and to get one, you are asked what your religion is. Also, if your Passport happens to have an Israeli stamp on it, you may be denied a Visa. As bad as that is (and make no mistake, I think it’s bad), it’s the policy of the Saudi government, not Delta Air Lines. Furthermore, it is a requirement that must be met for air travel on any airline or alliance. Flying American Airlines from the USA to London, and connecting on a BA flight to Saudi Arabia? Same deal. Are we now going to boycott BA because they fly to Saudi Arabia? Lufthansa? Air France? American for partnering with BA? I could go on.
I suppose given the hyper-sensitive, hyper-polarized, hyper-idiocy that envelops our country today, Delta might have better anticipated the reaction to Saudi Arabian Airlines becoming a member of Sky Team. Though after reading some of the hysterical lunacy contained in the comments section of Delta’s blog on this topic, I’m not sure anyone could plan for this. To be clear, I do not condone the policies of the Saudi government, and the only thing I hate is hate itself. That said, the reaction by some to this business transaction makes me wonder if some people don’t need to take a look at themselves before they lecture the rest of us on righteousness.
I think I’ll go book a flight on Delta now.