As if air travel weren’t stressful enough already, now some travelers will be flying on a wing, but not a prayer. An airline tradition is coming to an end:
Alaska Airlines’ prayer cards always offended Gordon Bowker, not because the Seattle businessman cared what religion they represented, but because they suggested in-flight prayer was a good idea.
“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.”
So, Bowker took the ornery road and began reciting the prayers in his most resonant voice.
“I could respectfully remain silent, but it’s their prayer and here we go — better to be safe,” he joked. “We’d be flying along, and I’d say, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ ”
The recitation provoked various responses, from deep embarrassment in one of his regular flying partners to nods and smiles from some fellow passengers to begging from flight attendants for him to stop.
Bowker did stop after Sept. 11, 2001, because he did not want to get kicked off a plane.
Now he won’t have to stomach the cards at all.
Alaska Airlines will end its 30-plus-year tradition of presenting prayer cards on customers’ meal trays next Wednesday.
Only first-class passengers have received the cards since 2006, when Alaska stopped providing meals on trays to customers in coach.
Even now, the cards appear only on flights longer than four hours, when they can be presented on a meal tray as they always have been, said spokeswoman Bobbie Egan.
The decision was made by top Alaska officials last fall and is not related to a frequent-flier partnership announced last week with the Dubai-based airline Emirates, she said.