Saudi Arabia blaming foreigners for shocking incident on national airline

Saudi Arabian Airlines’ (Saudia) inaugural flight of its new A330 was less than memorable when a video revealed that the passengers trashed the aircraft in flight.  AT covered the incident here, with video revealing horrifyingly filthy restrooms, appearing to have feces smeared on toilet seats and urine on the floors, and litter scattered everywhere.

In the wake of this public relations disaster, Saudia is now offering the excuse that the reason for passengers turning the plane into a pigsty is that they were deportees en route to Addis Ababa.

So, let me get this straight.  The maiden voyage of its new Airbus A330 is assigned deportation duty to Ethiopia while pilgrims conducting Hajj on the other new aircraft receive no attention.  Or maybe it was just as bad on those flights.  Who knows?

Anyway, the anonymous source at Saudia who made the excuse was unavailable for comment.  However, a Saudi citizen was asked about the incident,

“Although the blame must be shared between the passengers and the airline, Saudia must get the bigger share of blame, he said.  The crew must always keep the airplane clean. It is Saudia’s fault if the crew is understaffed,” he added.

This Saudi citizen either is ignorant of flying in that part of the world or is making another excuse for typical habits of Saudis or both.  As Thomas Lifson remarked, Saudis largely rely on foreigners to perform menial labor, and it’s not at all different on Saudia.  Flight attendants are females from the other GCC countries and from Asia.  Given Saudi cultural norms, the issue is not that both the passengers and the flight attendants are at fault. with the lion’s share of the blame falling on the airline.  It’s how much abuse foreign female flight attendants are willing to put up with on domestic and regional flights.

Even on international flights, where a higher class of Saudi passengers is present, one can sometimes find restrooms that would not meet the standards of other Western carriers.  The simple fact is that this Saudia flight inadvertently provided a window to the behavior of its clientele, and blaming this on deportees won’t make it go away.

John Smith is the pen name of a former United States intelligence officer.