Discuss as:

OMG! Alaska Airlines discontinues controversial prayer cards

A collection of Alaska Airlines prayer cards, which will be discontinued on Feb. 1, 2012.

In a memo sent to its frequent fliers Wednesday, Alaska Airlines announced that the prayer cards it has been providing to passengers on meal trays for the past 30 years will be discontinued as of Feb. 1.

“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 memo written by the company's chairman and president explained.

But airline spokesperson Bobbie Egan told msnbc.com that over the years the airline has received letters and e-mails from customers for and against the card. Last fall the company decided to stop distributing the cards because, Egan said, “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.”

Meal tray service in the coach class ended six years ago, so the prayer cards have been provided only to passengers in the first class cabin. MVP Gold flier Roz Schatman gets the cards on her meal tray quite often. “In the spirit of diversity, I find them offensive,” she said.

The Alaska Airline statement said that while some passengers enjoyed the cards, reactions like Schatman’s were not unusual.

“…[W]e'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 always seemed odd to me,” said George Hobica of the consumer travel website Airfarewatchdog.com. “Flying on a wing and prayer? I don’t think those two go together.”

More stories:

Find more by Harriet Baskas on StuckatTheAirport.com and follow her on Twitter.