Alaska Airlines Finally Decided to Ditch the Prayer Cards in First Class

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Personally, I had been wondering already for a while when Alaska would stop distributing these weird prayer cards during the meal service in the first class cabin. These cards used to be distributed in economy class as well, but went “missing” with the complimentary food serice.

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Apparently, even CEO of the airline felt so strongly about this discontinuance that he decided write an email solely devoted to this issue to the frequent flyers of the airline.

Dear Frequent Flyer,

At Alaska Airlines, we have provided prayer cards to our customers for more than 30 years. A former marketing executive borrowed the idea from another airline and introduced the cards to our passengers in the late 1970s to differentiate our service.

The cards have been provided only to our First Class customers since meal tray service ended in coach six years ago. Beginning February 1, 2012, however, we’ll be eliminating the cards entirely. This difficult decision was not made lightly. We believe it’s the right thing to do in order to respect the diverse religious beliefs and cultural attitudes of all our customers and employees.

Some of you enjoy the cards and associate them with our service. We also know some of you consider the cards to be a tradition that reflects your own spiritual beliefs. At the same time, we’ve heard from many of you who believe religion is inappropriate on an airplane, and some are offended when we hand out the cards. Religious beliefs are deeply personal and sharing them with others is an individual choice.

It’s important that everyone know that this decision does not change our core values nor our care for our customers. We’ll continue to distinguish ourselves through the pride and professionalism of our people on every flight and in our communities.

Our priority at Alaska is to fly our passengers to their destinations safely, on time and with their bags. We thank you for the opportunity to serve you and for the chance to demonstrate this commitment each time you fly with us.

Sincerely,

Bill Ayer
Chairman and CEO, Alaska Air Group

Brad Tilden
President, Alaska Airlines

My opinion is that publicly owned businesses should not link themselves with any religion. I sometimes feel uncomfortable at Marriott chain hotels knowing that the Book of Mormon is on the desk drawer, although out of my sight. But, I know that it is still there.

The airlines like Gulf Air, Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar aren’t distributing Koran related material on their flights. They do sometimes, however, show on their inflight entertainment system, if one so chooses, where is the Mecca located related to the place. You can often find stickers on hotels in the Muslim countries that show the direction of the Mecca.

Couple of days ago, I wrote about the cooperation between Emirates and Alaska that starts March 1st. It really wouldn’t surprise me if this would have been one of the “silent” reasons to stop the prayer card practice.

It is also good to keep in mind that Alaska does extensive codesharing with number of domestic and international airline partners on its network.  Earlier in the week a friend of mine took an Alaska flight from Los Angeles to Vancouver that carried a codeshare with EIGHT airlines in addition to their own.

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