A news website in Saudi Arabia reported this week that “angry reactions hit the Saudi streets at the new extra charge under the name the Sept. 11 Security Charge” being imposed by British Midland International (BMI) on Saudi tourists traveling to London.Isn't it interesting that all of British Midland's customers worldwide saw the surcharge, but only the Saudis assumed that it was directed at them alone?
“This is downright humiliation as the increase in the price of air tickets is only imposed on Saudi citizens,” the website quoted a number of Saudis as saying. It added that the move “has serious implications and that it destroys all the roads being built to maintain links with these people after 9/11.”
The website, sabq.com, said that some observers in the Kingdom believed that the charge might have been imposed for reasons other than those announced, namely to counter the steady increase in oil prices. “If this is the reason, it is also meant to punish Saudis since Saudi Arabia is the largest oil exporting country.”
Robert Lickley, commercial development manager for BMI in Saudi Arabia, explained to Arab News yesterday the exact cause of the problem. It too involved a website — this time BMI’s own booking page. “It is a requirement by law that notification of a 9/11 surcharge is put on the ticket of every Internet booking made for flights originating from the United States,” he said, adding that in updating their website, the information concerning the 9/11 surcharge had been carried across to the BMI site that included information and booking forms for the rest of the airline’s network.
“It was a simple clerical error, and when we discovered it, we corrected it immediately,” Lickley said. “However, the error was online for sufficient time that a number of observant Saudis saw it.”
What they were unaware of was that the 9/11 surcharge information is on every Internet ticket for every airline flight originating in the US, he said.
“There are absolutely no special surcharges for flights to or from Saudi Arabia,” Lickley said.
Security surcharges have been a fact of life on all airlines and therefore on ticket prices for several years. They are not specific to any group or nation and help meet the cost of tightened security for airlines since 9/11.
Do you think that perhaps they are a tad sensitive that their wonderful kingdom spawned most of the 9/11 hijackers?
Finally, notice the irony as the Saudis claim to be the victims of bias at the exact same time they refer to all Westerners as "these people."
If the Saudis had any sense of true responsibility, they would have offered to pay the entire cost of the 9/11 surcharge and save millions of travelers the money that they have to spend now because of the culture of hate that Saudi Wahhabi ideology has wrought.