In the first issue of American Airlines’ In-Flight Magazine, flight attendants were called flight attendants and business travelers were offered family fares offering half-price tickets to “your wife.”
It was in 1966.
The cover story of the latest issue of American Way: LGBTQ neighborhoods across the country.
The changes in the seat back pocket clip reflect how times have changed over the past 50 years.
But perhaps no sign of the times is more revealing than this: The June issue of American Way will be the airline’s last.
American is ceasing publication of what it calls the industry’s longest continuously published in-flight magazine, joining Delta and Southwest, who stopped publishing their magazines during the pandemic and have decided not to bring them back. American continued to post during the pandemic, but added an “antimicrobial process,” which it touts in the upper right corner of the cover.
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Why do airlines no longer offer in-flight magazines?
Dana Lawrence, general manager of American brand global marketing, said airlines are phasing out magazines in large part due to travelers’ changing tastes for in-flight entertainment and the growing lineup of in-flight entertainment. free airline options, largely powered by in-flight Wi-Fi. Fi.
American now offers 600 movies and TV shows and recently added a new lifestyle channel that includes free language lessons from Rosetta Stone. Passengers can stream them for free on their smartphones, tablets, laptops and other electronic devices.
“It’s really about following our customers and their preferences and figuring out how we can deliver the most content to them,” Lawrence said.
At the same time, the popular travel information passengers searched for at the end of the magazine – airport maps, in-flight food and drink menus, movie listings and more – are now available on airline websites. , mobile applications and, in the case of airlines offering backrest screens, the seat in front of them.
Lawrence said the move would play a “small role” in protecting the environment, as it uses 2 million pounds of paper for the 4 million copies printed each year – a benefit also touted by other airlines. .
Veteran travel analyst Henry Harteveldt, co-founder of Atmosphere Research in San Francisco, said in-flight magazines have passed their welcome on planes.
“These are relics from decades past that probably should have been killed a long time ago or at least digitized,” he said.
Harteveldt, a former executive of an airline whose responsibilities at TWA included overseeing the in-flight magazine, said interest in flipping magazines waned as travelers started loading books, movies and magazines. TV shows on their phones, tablets or laptops or have spent the theft to settle. in the airline’s entertainment options. Interest from advertisers declined as a result, he said.
“American Way was an institution,” he said. “But… I don’t think frequent fliers or occasional travelers will notice or really care about the magazine’s disappearance. And certainly no one has ever chosen an airline because of the in-flight magazine. ”
The CEO of in-flight magazine publisher Ink Global, the London-based travel media company that has been publishing American Way for six years and publishing United magazine, among others, disagrees. He said American Way has inspired millions of American passengers and “will be missed.”
“Although American is ending American Way, many of our other airline partners are redoubling their efforts to inspire travel-focused customer communication,” Keating said, citing United’s decision to put Hemispheres magazine back on its planes. this month and Virgin Atlantic’s plans to bring their magazine back in September.
From 22-bag booklet to 122-page monthly magazine
American’s in-flight magazine began as a 22-page booklet titled The American Way in early 1966 and began as an annual publication.
The first issue included a welcome address from American Airlines President Marion Sadler.
“We are delighted to welcome you on board and we hope this booklet will add to the enjoyment of your trip,” he said. “Here you will discover in words, images and works of art those special qualities of excellence that continue to distinguish the airline’s personnel, service and equipment from the best in the industry.”
The magazine eventually became a monthly publication, serving up to 16 million passengers before the pandemic decimated travel.
American Way has had a few pop culture moments. In 2005, the magazine received a nod to the finale of the first season of “The Office”.
The character Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, bragged about being a subscriber to Onboard Magazine (and USA TODAY).
“There are some good articles in there,” he cracked with reference to the magazine. “They did this awesome profile last month of (‘Everyone Loves Raymond) (actress) Doris Roberts and where she likes to eat when she’s in Phoenix. Illuminating. “‘
(American said an American Way article in 2005 featured Terry Bradshaw and the places he likes to eat in Phoenix.)
A dozen years later, “The Office” actress Mindy Kaling referred to the episode when she appeared on the cover of the magazine.
“Proud to be on the cover of Michael Scott’s favorite magazine, American Way,” she said in a Twitter post.
The satirical publication The Onion took American Way on hiatus in 2012, when American Airlines was a year on its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. (The airline exited Chapter 11 in 2013 through a merger with US Airways. )
The article said that American was planning to leave the flight industry to focus on magazine and that then-US CEO Thomas Horton was becoming editor of American Way.
“Our first love is and always has been our travel and lifestyle magazine. In fact, the distribution of American Way is why we got into air travel in 1930,” the parody said. . “Unfortunately, the publishing industry is changing and we can no longer afford to use the back pockets of a major international airline to keep our circulation in print. It just isn’t a cost effective way to run our magazine. . ”