Soul Food… Or Sour Taste?

Alaska Airlines (AA) has been around for over 85 years. Like other airline companies, it has had its share of ups and downs (no pun intended!) due to volatile economic conditions, fuel costs, labor relations, etc. And, although a regional player, it has also been considered an innovator in technology and service.

Bruce Kennedy led AA as CEO from 1979 to 1991. Under his leadership, the airlines grew from $235 million to $1.1 billion in revenues.

AA had long sought to provide safe and reliable transportation for a reasonable price, along with caring, friendly and professional service. Something we would expect of virtually all arline companies… Amen?

So what could distinguish AA from its competitors? Bruce, a devout Christian, had a brainstorm. How about printed cards with scripture verses placed on every meal tray on every flight? Working with another Christian in the company’s catering department, the brainstorm gave birth.

Bruce knew this initiative would become a “lightning rod,” eliciting comments pro and con. But he was willing to take whatever flak might come from the expected few… in order to positively impact tens of thousands who would be surprised and delighted by the Scriptures.

He was right about the numbers — most were positive, few were negative (although what negatives lost in numbers, they gained in hostility). Even now, it is interesting to see the exchanges in the online forum called FlyerTalk.

“If you want to “persuade” keep it in public or in YOUR home, church or business but stay the he!! out of mine. You might find less hostility to things like Alaska prayer cards if some of you so-called “Christians” didn’t try to invest your beliefs with the force of law and shove them down the throats of everyone else.”

“I do feel truly sorry for those who are so intolerant of others. It really is a shame. Our world would be such a better place if some people could practice a little more acceptance and kindness.”

“I for one am grateful that Alaska Airlines provides these scripture cards. After a long day of business meetings, travel, etc, it is nice to enjoy a meal and be reminded about what really matters.”

This practice appears to have died out soon after its creator, Bruce, died. Literally. Unexpectedly. At the age of 68. When the small plane he was piloting (on his way to visit his grandchildren) clipped a tree and crashed.

He certainly left a legacy of Christian service. Moving from success to significance after his retirement, Bruce joined Mission Aviation Fellowship, heading the nonprofit’s efforts to provide flights for disaster relief around the world.

Here’s another way AA distinguishes itself from its compeition — its commitment to sustainability. Like pioneering flight technology (Required Navigation Performance) that annually saves hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel. And annually diverting 1,800 tons of inflight waste from landfills through composting.

What’s your take on Bruce’s Scripture cards?  Soul food… or Sour Taste?

Please post your comments below.

Diana Furr, a.k.a. Abba’s Girl

This blog may have raised questions for you. If you’d like to connect, engage, or get further help from me, you can…  EMAIL me at [email protected]; CALL me at 863-446-1660; or request a complimentary initial CONSULT with me at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *