Alaska Airlines' passengers have been flying on a wing and a prayer. But soon, they'll have to make do with just the wings.
Yesterday, the airline announced that it will discontinue its tradition of providing prayer cards with in-flight meals, out of "respect for all passengers," reports the Associated Press. Alaska's prayer-card service will be snuffed out starting February 1.
We reached out to Alaska for comment but have yet to receive a response. However, the airline issued the following statement in an email sent to its customers: "Some of you enjoy the cards and associate them with our service. At the same time, we've heard from many of you who believe religion is inappropriate on an airplane."
Alaska has been distributing the prayer cards, which feature Old Testament psalms, for 30 years. Didn't see them on your last flight? You were probably sitting in airplane purgatory—coach. According to The Seattle Times, Alaska has been shelling out the prayer cards to first-class passengers only since 2006, when they stopped offering meals on trays to economy-class flyers. The cards are handed out on flights lasting four hours or longer.
Alaska's unusual practice of doling out in-flight prayer cards has risen more than a few flyers' eyebrows for various reasons. Starbucks founder Gordon Bowker told The Seattle Times, "My reasoning was, if they put that card on the plate, they must be worried that something bad was going to happen. If they're worried, I'm worried."
If, as Bowker suggests, the prayer cards were intended to offer some kind of protection for passengers, then their absence in coach class is even more troublesome. But, reports The Christian Post, the prayer cards were meant to be more of an amenity than an appeal for safety. An Alaska spokesperson told the publication that the prayer cards were furnished to "fancy up the meal service, since many folks like to give thanks before a meal."
From February onward, Alaska's first-class flyers will have to find some other way to "fancy up" their in-flight dining experience. May we suggest a hot towel?
Do you think prayer cards belong on planes?
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