US Says Kuwait Airways Discriminated

Kuwait Airways
image: Aero Shots

In early 2015 I wrote about discrimination at JFK Airport due to a passenger having an Israeli passport.

A quick recap of what happened: a woman with an Israeli passport was flying with her husband who has an American passport. The couple was supposed to fly on Kuwait Airways to London but the airline would not let her fly due to her Israeli passport. In the end, the woman was rebooked by Kuwait Airways on another airline but they wouldn’t do the same for her husband so they had to fly to London separately.

The couple sued Kuwait Airways for discrimination.

Since Kuwait does not recognize Israel, people with Israeli passports can not enter the country. In my original post, I assumed that the airline was possibly breaking American laws.

Here is what I wrote:

I would think that if the plane was landing in Kuwait, they would have grounds to stop the woman from flying since she wouldn’t be admitted into the country. However, being that the plane was taking off from the United States and landing in London, I’d think they would have to respect the freedoms people have the rights to here in America, allowing her to fly on this route.

Although, I am certainly no legal expert, it turns out that I was correct.

In a similar case from 2013, Kuwait Airways refused to sell a man with an Israeli passport a ticket from New York to London. It turns out that “the airline’s online booking system prevented him from selecting Israel as his passport-issuing country” according to the AP.

According to the article, “the U.S. government has found that Kuwait Airways unlawfully discriminated against a passenger traveling on an Israeli passport by refusing to sell him a ticket for a New York to London flight“.

U.S. laws expect an airline to follow the laws of the countries where the passenger will be flying to. So, since the UK recognizes Israeli passports, Kuwait Airways would be expected to sell & fly an Israeli citizen there (from the US).

Here is an interesting quote from the article , “Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the case is a warning that any airline that wishes to operate in the U.S. should know that we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our skies.

What do you think about this ruling? Should the airline have to follow the law of its home country and be allowed to discriminate, not flying someone with an Israeli passport? Or- do you feel that the airline should have to follow the laws of the country it is flying from/ to?

Find out more in the AP article which I found on US News & World Report here.

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