Alaska Airlines flight attendants will cease a 30-year practice of handing out prayer cards with meals this February, the Seattle Times reports. The religious notes, which feature quotes from the Book of Psalms, began as a marketing campaign to put passengers at ease during the 1970s.
Since 2006, when the airline stopped serving food on trays to customers in coach, the cards were only given to first-class passengers on flights longer than four hours. Even so, customer complaints still exceeded compliments.
“Over the years, we’ve received comments from customers who were comforted by the card, but many others felt as though religion was not appropriate on an airplane and preferred not to receive one,” Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan told Reuters.
The concern wasn’t only based on religion; the cards also gave passengers a fright. “My reasoning was, if they put that card on the plate, they must be worried that something bad was going to happen,” said frequent passenger Gordon Bowker, who cofounded Starbucks. “If they’re worried, I’m worried.”
In an email to frequent flyers, Alaska Air CEO Bill Ayer and Alaska Airlines President Brad Tilden wrote, “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.”