Alaska Airlines ends prayer cards on flights
Alaska Airlines distributed prayer cards like these on flights for more than 30 years.
January 26th, 2012
04:21 PM ET

Alaska Airlines ends prayer cards on flights

By Aaron Cooper, CNN

(CNN) - Passengers on Alaska Airlines will no longer get a free Psalm with their meal.

On Wednesday, the airline announced it is ending its more than 30-year tradition of including printed cards with short Bible verses during meal service.

“I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name O most high,” was written on one card, over an image of foggy blue mountains. Another card featured these words over a beach at sunset: "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

The cards have been distributed on trays with Alaska Airlines meals since the 1970s, according to airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan. Since 2006, only passengers in First Class on longer Alaska Airlines flights have been served meals, so only a small percent of passengers received a card.

“This difficult decision was not made lightly,” the airline’s top executives said an email to frequent passengers. “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.”

“We also know some of you consider the cards to be a tradition that reflects your own spiritual beliefs,” the email said. “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.”

Kathy Hosford, of Dyea, Alaska told CNN Affiliate that ““I take the time to read them. It really tells me the airline cares about the people sitting there.”

Others disagree. “Religious attitudes do vary,” Egan says, and “a large percent of residents in markets that we do serve on the West Coast say religion is not important to them.”

“We have been keeping track over the recent years and we are receiving more complaints than compliments” says Egan. Between 1998 and 2002 they received 242 complaints and 141 compliments about the cards.

The idea to distribute the cards in the first place came from a marketing executive who borrowed the idea from another carrier as a way to differentiate Alaska’s service, according to the airline’s statement.

But that view has now changed. “A business that aspires to be diverse and inclusive shouldn't have a religious agenda. Religious beliefs are deeply personal and vary greatly among our customers” Egan said in an emailed statement.

The decision to eliminate the cards was made last fall, she says, and takes effect on February 1. No decision yet about what to do with the leftovers.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Alaska • Prayer

soundoff (2,364 Responses)
  1. Spock

    They get a FREE Meal? Last time I flew I did not get anything... Lucky I had access to the rest rooms

    January 27, 2012 at 6:54 am |
  2. One Correction

    It doesn't follow that just because "Between 1998 and 2002 they received 242 complaints and 141 compliments about the cards" that more are against it than for it. People only tend to complain, not compliment. Many more that liked the cards are much less likely to comment to the airline at all.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:44 am |
    • FactChecker

      Agree. This is what is statisticians call a "self-selecting sample". They can be very misleading. But you must consider that the same factors making one side more likely to comment also indicate stronger emotions on the issue.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:00 am |
  3. studdmuffins

    Whew, thank God...oops, sorry. One down. Now, please remove all those Gideon placed Bibles from the nightstand in my hotel room. I mean seriously, I have to open a drawer then the maid holds me at duster point while forcing me to open it and actually read a Psalm or two. Those uplifting words make me ill.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • dogs rule

      Good for you! Religion does not belong on an airline or anywhere else where a diverse public is served, including restaurants, schools, etc.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • just sayin

      on the other hand prayer belongs in all those places and more

      January 27, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • jimtanker

      I play "Hide the bible" everytime that I stay at a hotel.

      January 27, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • marilynn

      dogsrule. i totally agree. i was out with the kids for a day in the park last year, in a PUBLIC place, and had a religious group try to force talk of god down my throat. it was horrible. flew a banner in the sky so i had no choice but to look. soo wrong. but you know athiests, theyll spend all their money to spread their religion and force it on people..

      January 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  4. Adam

    For the mostly Christian apologists for this Airlines previous practice, if they handed out a card that said "there is no god but allah and muhammad is his prophet" as you were getting on the flight, YOU would not complain? If you would, then you know how the people of other faiths or no faith would feel.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • TheWiz71

      The thing is, that this quote on the card above is from the Psalms, which all three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – all look to. Got most of humanity covered right there.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • Gedwards

      Nope, wouldn't complain. Why would I? Do you complain when someone wishes you Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah?

      And in fact, having flown on airlines in the Middle East, there is quite an overt display of Islam.

      Just because you hate Christianity doesn't mean Christians hate other faiths. Classic case of transference.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  5. Zeppelin


    January 27, 2012 at 6:26 am |
  6. I'm Outside

    I am an atheist, which is why I am for freedom of religion, and last I checked, Alaska Airlines is a private enterprise that can distribute anything they want on their planes, within the boundaries of the law, of course. If you don't like it, don't fly with them. And if you have to fly with them due lack of options, you can still dislike it, but it's their flight. If I owned an airline, no religious person(s) would be able to influence me to put cards with bible verses on them on my flights, and that's a two-way street. However, a good rule in operating a business is, remain neutral in terms of politics and religion, that way you get cross-demographic customers and you avoid negative PR.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • Zeppelin

      This is progress. People getting their panties in a knot over this perfectly legal action need to get hobbies, lives, something else to occupy their idle hands.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • Ron

      Very well stated "I'm Outside". Our society has gotten so hung up on being offended by the beliefs of others. How about trying tolerance for each others differences and stopping for a moment to reflect internally rather than being upset because not everyone agrees with you.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:46 am |

      @I'm Outside and @Ron – Rarely have I seen two more intelligent responses together. Thanks – from a believer who also supports tolerance.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Gedwards

      What a wonderfully reasonable position from an atheist. Thank you.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  7. unowhoitsme

    I pledge allegiance to the flag...one nation UNDER GOD...apparently not. I'm not a religious person, but I do believe in God. This nation is doomed (already happening) when it denies their creator.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • Dave

      This wasn't One Nation "under god" until 1954.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:21 am |
    • Adam

      They added UNDER GOD to the pledge in the 1950's

      January 27, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • I'm Outside

      Do not fool yourself. God is a religious invention. The God you believe in, you believe in because of what religion has taught you. How else you would justify your comment about the nation being doomed for not believing in its creator? You're even paraphrasing religious text. It's your right to do so, but at least know where your views come from.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • Zeppelin

      "Under god" was added in the 1950's, and was not part of the original Pledge. Oh, and if you believe in a god, then you are religious, like it or not.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • marilynn

      "Do not fool yourself. God is a religious invention".. how gruesomely ignorant can you be. people have been into "god" long before any organized religion. I know you are really hellbent on your position, but dont compromise facts just to try to make a point.. thats pretty religious thing to do..

      January 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • TR6

      “This nation is doomed (already happening) when it denies their creator”

      Yes, just like Sweden. We’ve all seen how badly they suffer for their lack of faith. Wealthy, peaceful, good schools, great health and great health care, good government…. Yes god has taught them quite a lesson (eye roll)

      January 28, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer in the air
    Made possible by
    God revealing knowledge to mankind
    Prayer changes things

    January 27, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • Adam

      Scientifically proven that praying changes nothing

      January 27, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • bringoutyourdead

      demon fears and hates prayer

      January 27, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • Eric

      herbie is scared of demons. they make him touch himself and fill him with lust for his relatives. poor herbie.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • dogs rule

      Surely you cannot be serious!

      January 27, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • herbie

      there is no herbie at all
      herbie does not exist

      January 27, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • Marilynn

      Adam. Actually there has been scientific evaluations on the effectiveness of prayer on biological matter and there is indeed a positive effect. Scientists obviously dont believe its spiritual, they think its some high level transfer of energy, sort of how particles can do. Of course religious people think its god. Either way there is indeed proof that prayer works. Just thought id clear that up.

      January 27, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • TR6

      Prayer is like being in a very dark room
      Searching for a black cat that isn’t there
      And yelling “I’ve got him”

      January 28, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Marilyn, you have cleared nothing up! You have merely made an unsubstantiated claim, along the lines of "(some) god(s) exist." Please provide references to the studies you claim show that prayer is effective.

      January 28, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  9. TR6

    I wouldn’t mind this at all, if atheists got to pick out half of the verses from the bible

    January 27, 2012 at 4:51 am |
  10. Rob

    If a Jew, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist... etc wants to give me a card containing a prayer, a simple prayer it is all done in good will, whether or not I choose to follow said religions I accept it graciously. What has happened to tolerance? It seems that we've thrown away a great thing in American tradition, accepting difference has taking a back seat to acting politically correct.

    January 27, 2012 at 4:40 am |
    • Art

      It was tolerated for over 30 years according to the article. It's a business. They like repeat suckers, I mean customers.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • Adam

      Art: People did not start complaining about this yesterday.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:24 am |
  11. RC

    Ludicrous. I imagine the vast majority of the complaints are from militant atheists who, ironically, can't tolerate the religion of anyone else. Atheism is itself a belief system: a belief that there is no deity.They are just as guilty of pushing their agenda on people as any religious group is. I say let these cards continue to be placed. Let different religious groups pay to put some literature on the planes, maybe we'll get the airline prices down a bit. The worst that can happen to this unobtrusive piece of paper is you throw it out or you put it in the pocket behind the seat. No one is going to become a new religion follower or lose their current religion by touching the paper or giving it more than a cursory glance.

    January 27, 2012 at 4:31 am |
    • Art

      Yeah, just keep listening to those voices in your head. They will tell you when its a good time to kill.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • JC

      Yeah, they should keep the cards, it might just inspire the right muslim at the right time – while the plane is in the air! lol

      January 27, 2012 at 4:46 am |
    • Sardukar

      "a large percent of residents in markets that we do serve on the West Coast say religion is not important to them.”
      These are the end days for the religion..no more JC or Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy or Unicorns.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • Zeppelin

      Aww... someone p.iss in your Wheaties? Get over yourself. Atheism is a lack of belief, not a belief system. Project much? Sorry you've had some bad experiences, as your perceptions are obviously negative. The atheists I know are normal people living normal lives – the only difference is they never discuss religion because they're not caught up in the hoo-hah. Perhaps one day you'll have a positive experience and will realize that anyone can be a good person. You'll need to stop perceiving slights against you just because someone thinks differently.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Gedwards

      JC//"Yeah, they should keep the cards, it might just inspire the right muslim at the right time – while the plane is in the air! lol"
      Bigoted much, JC? Or perhaps they'll give the right person pause and decide not to do something stupid.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Marilynn

      Sardukar. There will NEVER be an end to religion. Mankind has an internal need to worship and it has always been there. If the concept of god was squashed, men would start praying to men, or idols, or something else. Religion is manmade and because of that it will always be perverse. Dont be naive in thinking religion=god. Rligion is too effective a tool to be disregarded anyway. Look at how powerful athiests have become in their religion. Cant do that without the power of faith.

      January 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  12. Art

    The voices in their heads told them to hand out little cards for their god of death's glory. All hail death! Everyone will die!
    Then we can all rejoice in dying and being with our death-god! Yay!

    January 27, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • Gedwards

      Art//"The voices in their heads told them to..."
      Didn't the little voice in your head tell you to write such a bigoted and hateful post?

      January 27, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  13. Susan

    I can't believe Alaska Airlines was handing out prayer cards before a flight. That is extremely inappropriate and wrong. I can't believe they have been doing this up until now. Also, it sends the wrong message to give all passengers prayer cards before a flight takes off.

    January 27, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • RC

      What do you mean it's wrong? Are you aware of how many people claim to pray to God before the plane takes off, and more especially when strong turbulence or an actual emergency occurs?

      January 27, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • Question

      I wonder how many athiests use the shorthand "OMG" and don't realize what it means, lol! And you're right, I wonder how many athiests say that in their head when sudden turbulence hits.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:12 am |
    • Adam

      Question: Atheists dont know what OMG means? Are you serious?

      January 27, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • Sardukar

      you think that the laws of Nature will somehow bend in your favor..I say your god send the turbulence on a first place just to joke around.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • Marilynn

      Susan. Your post is exactly whats wrong in the bigger picture. Nobody knows anything about anyone elses religious concepts, so EVERYONE ends up being upset. Prayer isnt about "asking for protection" on a flight, or serving ones purposes. In fact,these cards arent even "prayer cards". Theyre simply cards with a verse on it. Why would you think its an active ploy to get people to pray? It has nothing to do with that.. At all..

      January 27, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  14. Reagan80

    Just one more great thing about the hoards of Muslims that we're letting into the country.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:22 am |
    • bobcat

      Don't blame Muslims American christians are responsible for the collapse of christianity in europe with their arrogance and bigotry, and are causing the same thing here. If christians will stop putting themselves above others and accept others as equals as Christ commanded christianity may yet survive.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:29 am |
  15. Gloria

    Bad move Alaska Airlines... Will be interesting to watch your profits. Why should God bless you anymore,, you kicked Him off the team.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • sam

      Well, honestly, it would have been based on $ overall. It won't make a difference. God doesn't care.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • tokencode

      I hope my airline puts it's faith in well trained mechanics, well maintained planes and excellent pilots, not "god"

      January 27, 2012 at 4:04 am |
    • Marilynn

      Token. So just because a card has a bible verse on it, you think they dont have mechanics or pilots? You think they just let the plane fly itself and they hope under the grace of god they will land? Ha ha, boy are you guys really stretching it.. Talk about polar extremes..

      January 27, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  16. Art

    They need to take all religious idiots and put them on the "do not fly" list. You never know when their voices tell them to kill.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • John

      Global warming lunatics should be on the no fly list, voluntarily of course.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • cheese

      They should put you on the no-fly list for extremist views.

      Quit denigrating other people like you're some genius when you're just bagging groceries for a living.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:19 am |
    • John

      I'll go one step further, any global warming lunatic if they truely believe their cause is legit, should not use cars, trains, planes, busses, or any machine that uses oil... which is essentially about all mechanical machines ever made.

      When will this happen Al Gore? Is he on the no fly list?

      January 27, 2012 at 3:19 am |
    • k

      What does this have to do with the original comment you replied to?

      January 27, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • JanieBench

      Cuz OBV anyone who isn't a christian is one of those crazy environmental types, god HATED the environment... DUH.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • John

      K, any global warming lunatic if they are radical and truely believe their cause, might attempt to down the plane to stop the planet from heating up an additional 1 trillionth of a trillionth of a degree for an hour. If instead they are normal global warming freaks, they should voluntarily add themselves to the no fly list, so as to stop global warming, if they really believe their cause. Global warming is a belief, they either believe it or they don't. I doubt any of them really believe it because they all still fly around same as they always have, same as everyone else does.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • Art

      Sounds like the voices in John's head will be telling him to kill someone very soon....and how do we keep him away from guns? How can we make sure people like John are not allowed on airplanes? I wouldn't dare post anything if I thought someone like John could hunt me down and murder me because of the voices in his head. Thank you CNN!

      January 27, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • John

      Art, if you think you can hear inside my head, there is a doctor at CNN that might be able to refer you to someone that can help you.

      As for the global warming algorenists, don't forget to also shut off the central heat, water heater, and unplug the ovens today. You must follow your belief to be a good follower. Phones and computers heat up some too... bye bye

      January 27, 2012 at 4:24 am |
    • Art

      You are insane, John. Seek help. I suppose you are too far gone, though. Don't you hear Jesus talking to you? He will tell you when to kill and when to wait. Like Son of Sam's dog. Stop before it's too late! Don't listen to the voices!

      January 27, 2012 at 4:30 am |
    • John

      Art, if you a follower of the global warming fruitiology, that's sad. It's sad because keyboards also use electricity, and that causes heating in the keyboard, so you must unplug it now to do what's right for your religion, so I won't see any further replies from you.

      Has anyone ever told Al Gore his body generates heat? Good luck on stopping global warming Al.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • Art

      My name is Art, not Al, and I don't worry about global warming. I worry about religious crazies who hear voices telling them to kill.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • John

      Art, Al Gore is the high priest of the global warming religion. Look him up some time. Your statement at the start was: 'They need to take all religious idiots and put them on the "do not fly" list'. Given that global warming is a religion, and an idiot does things that don't make sense, such as flying planes while saying everyone should stop warming the globe, it makes sense global warming freaks would be on your list. Of all the people I can think of that could claim to have a "good reason" to down a plane in flight, global warming algorenists might top the list. So if you're looking for religious idiots for your no fly list, please be sure to include them.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:39 am |
    • Adam

      John , get an education. Read a Science book.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • John

      Adam, you might follow your own advice:

      GREENBELT, Md. — A new NASA computer modeling effort has found that additional growth of plants and trees in a world with doubled atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would create a new negative feedback — a cooling effect — in the Earth’s climate system that could work to reduce future global warming.

      Global warming is a religion, with high priests, followers, and nothing to back it up. The extra carbon dioxide is taken up by plants.
      If you don't believe it, ask Al Gore during one of his flights, trips in the car, trains, bus rides, cruises... he doesn't believe it any more than I do. He has nothing to back up what he says to not do, that he does anyway, so why listen to him? If that's your religion, be sure to stop using any oil, gas or electricity, just like Al Gore does... NOT.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • Trubs

      I think John is having a meltdown. Better call the cops. He might kill someone.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Marilynn

      ALL religious idiots? Including athiests?

      January 27, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  17. Homer

    I see nothing wrong with this. Anytime you get on an airplane you need to be saying a prayer.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • Qwackers

      Especially if it's Alaska Airlines. Weren't they the ones who plunged one into the ocean with all aboard a few years ago?

      January 27, 2012 at 2:56 am |
    • Mirosal

      Maybe Sarah Palin is a major stockholder in the airline? lol

      January 27, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • sam

      Prayer cards needed if the jackscrews have not been checked...

      January 27, 2012 at 3:09 am |
    • tokencode

      There is nothing wrong with this if that happens to be your religion. Why not bring your own psalm trading cards? It is bad business to promote one religion over another, plain and simple. Can you imagine that backlash if they handed out little cards that said "God does not exist."? You can believe whatever you want, but you should understand and respect that fact that not everyone shares your beliefs.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:48 am |
    • Rich39

      When I get on a plane I pray that a wing won't fall off, a cable won't snap, their is not a stress factor any where on the plane, that the bathroom works, that a big person won't sit beside me, and the big one! That it takes off on time. With over 200 plus religions the airline should have a card for every religion. In their native tongue.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Marilynn

      I hate that this company buckled and gave way to peer pressure. And id feel the same way if they were satanic verses or verses from the koran or whatever.i dont understand athiests celebrating this. This is a private company living the american dream, then folding under pressure and compromising their values over money, and for political reasons.. How is that a good thing?

      January 27, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Alaska Airlines listened to their customers, assessed their practices and made a business decision to change. This is normal, except that the decision affects believers who think religion should get a free pass or that the status quo should be maintained, bringing out the christian persecution complex. Too bad – suck it up!

      January 28, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  18. OJ

    A stupid airline from! Perhaps Alaska airline should maintain their aircraft better to avoid killing their customers. These versues are not going to do much for flight 261.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • Jim


      January 27, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • Marilynn

      Um.. So you think they waived repairs on their aircraft because they had dinner cards with bible verses.. Seriously?

      January 27, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  19. Fuzzman

    This is posted under "Belief". I'm not sure that blurbs from the Bible printed on post cards qualifies as religion.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Art

      How could you think religious tracts are not religious? Are you retarded?

      January 27, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • dogs rule

      Huh? What would you qualify it as, entertainment? Humor? It's RELIGION. And it's inappropriate anywhere excpt in the home or in a place of worship.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I would call it complete bullsh!t and let any business that handed such crap out know exactly that.

      January 28, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  20. Jim

    242 complaints in 4 years? Not exactly staggering numbers. i wonder how many of those were the same people. Would the airline change their mind if more people sent thank you's? This just tells me that people should show their appreciation more for the little things.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • Fuzzman

      It only shows you how important negative feedback on the way you do business is to stock holders. It doesn't mean that Alaska Airlines hates old-fashioned Christians.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • Adam

      So, if they printed "there is no god but allah and muhammad is his prophet" , and you were on the flight, you would send them a thank you? If not, you know how the Atheists feel.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • dogs rule

      WHY would anyone in his/her right mind send a "thank you" for having religion forced down their throats while flying on a plane? Are you kidding me? MOST people would have a fit. They didn't receive MORE complaints because people got too busy or blew it off. It's completely inappropriate. Period.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Salad Spinner

      They only had 242 customers in the past 4 years...

      January 27, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Marilynn

      Dogs, i hear ya. Last year we were in a public park and a plane flying a religious banner literally flew over the park.. A PUBLIC PARK. Talking about god. I was floored. These athiests have gone to far pushing this down my throat.

      January 27, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Marilyn, what about the billboards pay for to recruit new members to their cult – is that OK?

      January 28, 2012 at 2:40 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.