After 30 years of giving passengers prayer cards with their meals, Alaska Airlines notified customers via email they would end the practice next week.
“Religious beliefs are deeply personal and sharing them with others is an individual choice,” according to Wednesday’s email, signed by airline CEO Bill Ayer and President Brad Tilden.
The cards, which feature excerpts from the Old Testament, have always received mixed reviews from customers. The feedback had been mostly positive until a shift in public opinion in recent years.
“Some customers were comforted by the cards and some didn’t feel religion was appropriate on the plane and preferred not to receive one,” an Alaska Airlines spokeswoman told the Associated Press.
Twitter was buzzing today about the news, with the majority in support of the airline’s decision. But the decision is not without its critics: “A shame Alaska Air decided to stop passing out prayer cards because of ‘complaints’ by presumably ‘tolerant’ customers,” @catholiclawyer tweeted.
Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com and author of a travel column that appears on ABCNews.com, doubts that Alaska Airlines will experience much backlash from the decision. “For the handful of front-cabin folks served meals with a card, I am sure they will see the predicament that Alaska is in and not hold it against them,” he said.
Alaska Airlines stopped serving meals in economy class in 2006. Since then, only first-class customers received the prayer cards with their meals.
Alaska Airlines released its 2011 full-year income this morning, reporting record net income of $287.4 million (excluding special items), compared to $262.6 million in 2010, up nearly 10 percent.