Monday, November 14, 2011

Passengers and FAA Officials Outraged at Alaska Airlines ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ Campaign

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Several Alaska Airlines travelers were shocked to open their meal trays and find copies of Psalm 9:2 staring back at them. Even as a private sector company, the air carrier accepts millions of dollars in tax payer money each year. Critics claim that passengers outside Judeo-Christian faiths may find the lack of separation of church and business offensive. However, representatives from the airline say the company has offered various biblical snippets on its flights for about 30 years. Summer Wren, a senior public relations officer for Alaska Air, explained: “An overwhelming majority of our customers have indicated they appreciate the gesture, and those who don’t are not forced to read it. Besides, most people in this country are Jewish or Christian. People of other faiths probably don’t speak English anyway, or are Muslim terrorists, in which case their reaction to seeing the psalms makes profiling just a whole lot easier.”

Wren elaborated that the fleet’s religious pamphlets now serve a mission critical business purpose, and should be taken seriously.

“This little leaflet really accomplishes several key objectives, all very instrumental to our new marketing campaign,” Wren said.

The campaign she is referring to is being branded “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.”

Fanning herself with a few copies of the meal tray psalms, Wren continued to emphasize the importance of these materials on flights: “The message we really need people from all walks of life to understand is that on Alaska Air, God is your co-pilot -- I mean, literally your co-pilot...because of all the cutbacks. The pamphlets double as our legal disclosure of the staffing shortages. We only have enough money in the budget to pay for the pilot-in-charge and one flight attendant. No first officer, no second officer, no third officer and no purser. We’re using Google Maps in place of a flight engineer.”

Wren discounted the seemingly one-sided Christian overtones as mere advertising metaphors to drive home crucial elements of Alaska Air’s cost savings experience.

As one example illustrated by Wren, planes will now fly as close as “legally permissible” to the upper atmosphere: “We are taking our valued customers right to the edge of Heaven, and for good reason. The air density is reduced at higher altitudes. The trade off between oxygen availability, engine efficiency, air resistance and speed -- in respect to fuel consumption -- equals more bang for your buck. Fliers might feel a little lightheaded or short of breath, but we’re saving millions on jet fuel costs, and we’re passing those savings on to our customers.”

But many passengers, as well as officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB), remain distressed and unconvinced that Alaska Airlines executives have made sound business choices.

“First of all,” said Albert Sam-James of the FAA, “flying above 45,000 feet requires official approval, not using a page out of the Bible as God’s permission slip. Second, printing up the Last Rites on the back of the card is causing undue panic among passengers. That’s a huge safety problem, too.”

Wren admitted but did not apologize for the presence of the funereal prayer included on the back of the psalms.

“That’s become part of our safety process,” Wren said. “During our preflight check, we clearly notify passengers that in the event of a water landing or sudden loss of altitude or cabin pressure, the back of the card may be used to administer Last Rites. Signing the top half of the card instantly ordains any passenger as a minister, legally capable of officiating Last Rites. And the bottom half of the card provides them with the actual words they need to recite. It’s quick and efficient. And again, because of the cutbacks, we can no longer afford to stock the planes with rafts, life preservers or in-seat flotation devices.”

Reporters from The Bennington Vale Evening Transcript noticed that the oxygen masks also seemed to be inoperative. Wren snapped, “How would you know? It’s impossible to tell if air is flowing because the bag doesn’t inflate.”

Alaska Airlines plans to continue with the official launch of its new publicity campaign during Thanksgiving week. Ads will feature a photograph of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gazing out the window of a plane, with the caption: “I can see Heaven from Business Class.”

(c) 2011. See disclaimers.

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