Alaska Airlines: No Pillows and Blankets Means Cleanliness

Last Updated May 5, 2009 5:16 PM EDT

I read with interest that Alaska Airlines was going to discontinue pillows and blankets for passengers in all of its 114 planes to reduce the spread of swine flu. Apparently keeping pillows and blankets on board means they could be infected with swine flu germs, which could make people sick. Pillows and blankets might get passed around, spreading the virus, so it's better if they're no longer an option, right?

(Now, if only JetBlue had thought of this, then it could be the "Sanitized for Your Protection JetBlue Pillow." In these troubled times a virucidal pillow could easily fetch its $7 price tag.)

I'm not sure that the solution for cleanliness means getting rid of airline pillows and blankets. Crew members washing their hands may be more effective, as well as passengers covering their mouths with a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing (and tossing it away.) It seems like a bad idea to take away the few comforts for passengers aboard a crowded flight.

Alaska said that aircraft traveling to and from Mexico would get a thorough cleansing so it won't spread any swine flu pathogens. Other airlines are dealing with the outbreak by cutting capacity to Mexico.

The move away from blankets and pillows definitely got Alaska noticed, but it seems like the airline may care more for media recognition than for their customers' comfort.