Airlines offer early Valentines and free books

Beating up on the airlines is highly entertaining – and way too easy these days.

But let’s give credit when credit is due.

This week, Alaska Airlines plucked a popular Pacific Northwest jazz festival from the clutches of death.

For several years now, Oregon’s Portland Jazz Festival has been one of country’s top jazz showcases, featuring more than 150 performers in a 10 day city-wide event. This year, after one key corporate sponsor failed to renew its support, festival organizers canceled the show.

But then Seattle-based Alaska Airlines came to the rescue with a $100,000 commitment over two years. Now the 6th Annual Alaska Airlines Jazz Festival, honoring the 70th anniversary of Blue Note records, will go on as scheduled February 13-22, 2009. Heartwarming, right?

And in another nice touch. Yesterday (October 2) many passengers setting out from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on American Airlines flights found a copy of the classic children’s story, “Corduroy,” in the seatback pockets.

The books were part of the Jumpstart Read for the Record campaign, which was trying to break the world record for the most people reading the same book on the same day. The Pearson Foundation bought 1500,000 copies of the book for the Jumpstart program and gave American Airlines 5,000 books to put in the seatback pockets of 25 American Airlines and 15 American Eagle planes.

Don’t have a copy of the book? There are on-line versions, in English and Spanish. You can even follow along as celebrities such as Emmylou Harris, LeVar Burton, and Efren Ramirez read the book out loud.

Heartwarming, right?