The travelers return to the sky. Some flight magazines are not.
American Airlines Inc.
announced this month that after 55 years in the seat pockets, the latest issue of its in-flight magazine, American Way, will be its last.
“The magazine will retire at the end of June 2021 and it will be bittersweet,” American wrote in a statement. The company said it had focused on improving digital content designed to occupy passengers.
American is joining the club of airlines that choose to scrap their in-flight magazines. Delta Airlines Inc.
and Southwest Airlines Co.
last year, they withdrew their respective flight magazines as a hygiene precaution at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic; both said they had no intention of bringing them back.
All Nippon Airways of Japan Co.
announced in February that it would replace its print publication Tsubasa Global Wings with a digital version available on its website and app, a tactic also adopted last November by Singaporean low-cost carrier Scoot Tigerair Pte Ltd.
These measures echo the contraction of the entire print magazine industry as digital media has taken hold.
Airline magazines have long enjoyed perks others lacked, including a guaranteed, captive, thumbs-up audience. But the spread of smartphones, laptops and tablets powered by on-board Wi-Fi puts an end to that chapter, at least for some carriers.
“Previously, it was much more common for people to consult the magazine for lack of anything else to keep them occupied during the flight,” said Gary Leff, a frequent traveler and author of the air travel blog. The folding of some magazines, he said, naturally follows the disappearance of advertising on sets and in-flight purchases from catalogs like SkyMall, whose owner in 2015 filed for bankruptcy citing “increased use of electronic devices in airplanes”.
A spokeswoman for American said the modern tendency of customers to turn to their devices for entertainment was the driving force behind the shutdown of American Way, a headline that was once important enough that the satirical publication The Onion joke that the American was shutting down passenger service to focus on the magazine.
The airline, which said it has now installed Wi-Fi in the majority of its planes, has expanded its digital entertainment offering in recent years beyond movies and TV shows to include meditation exercises, basic language learning courses, live concerts and online creativity. courses, including “Travel Photography: View, Photograph and Edit” and “Sketchbook Illustration: Drawing a Personal and Colorful Travel Map”.
The destination guides and lifestyle programs will also come from a new partnership with the Condé Nast publishing house, the US spokesperson said. Starting July 1, the airline will broadcast videos created under the banners of magazines such as Vogue, GQ and Condé Nast Traveler on its lifestyle entertainment channel. Content can be viewed free of charge on folder screens or personal devices connected to the in-flight Wi-Fi network.
There is a financial benefit to removing magazines from airplanes, in addition to saving on printing costs: it makes them lighter to fly.
Magazines may seem unimportant for takeoff weight relative to baggage and people, but their cumulative weight on a fleet has a direct impact on airline fuel consumption and emissions, a spokesperson for the carrier said. Finnish Finnair Oyj.,
who is still deciding whether to bring back print magazines after the pandemic.
Delta said it noted a “slight but significant” reduction in carbon emissions after its print magazine was removed from flights. American said he estimated that retiring from American Way would save about 2 million pounds of paper each year.
Other airlines are still attached to the in-flight magazine. United Airlines Inc. brought its Hemispheres magazine back on planes this month after mailing it to members of its premium loyalty programs throughout the pandemic. And Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. said her post Vera is expected to make a comeback in the seat pockets in August.
Both publications are produced by Ink, a UK-based media agency that also produced American Way. Ink will continue to produce a video series for American called “American Destinations,” which will air alongside new content Condé Nast on the in-flight entertainment channel, but Ink said the magazine’s shutdown resulted in job losses. at the agency.
Its co-managing director, Michael Keating, said other in-flight magazines will survive as part of a larger media mix, mainly due to their strength as a marketing channel that more than 80% of flyers pick up. and read, he said, citing pre-pandemic figures from market research firm Harris Poll.
“Having a broad entertainment offering is great for the customer, but it doesn’t do anything for airline marketing,” Keating said. “Watching live news, sports or a movie doesn’t sell the airline’s network or inspire a traveller’s next trip. “
For Mr. Leff, the air travel blogger, the in-flight magazine still has its charms, as long as the quality lives up to other editorials he could find online.
“There’s something about discovering something that you wouldn’t otherwise have and being drawn to as a traveler, which many travelers enjoy,” he said.
Write to Katie Deighton at [email protected]
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