In the resistance between traditional marketing formats and services that continued to be used to connect with consumers using paper, airline magazines had a prominent position. The magazine has been a traditional fixture on airplanes, in part because once up there there was little else to entertain.
The plane is still a place free of mobiles: you have to put it yes or yes in flight mode (although later the WiFi in flight can pervert the idea of total disconnection). Who more and who less has had a magazine in their hands on a flight and will even have been surprised to discover that the company they travel with does not have it available to travelers.
The magazine serves to sell the products of the bar on board, to convey that ideal vision of what it means to travel or to, directly, create a brand image for the airline. For not a few of its travelers, the Vueling brand image had been injected into their subconscious thanks to Ling , its cool on-board magazine, which made them not seem like a low cost anymore.
In fact, even low costs, despite their policies of reducing spending as much as possible, have kept some kind of magazine on board. It was paper and it was lifelong marketing and it still existed, as a kind of unbeatable element. At least until now.
The crisis of the magazine on board
The onboard magazine, like many other things, disappeared during the pandemic. Companies in many sectors wanted to reduce the circulation of things as much as possible. Many users were not wanted to touch the same things (although it was soon discovered that the virus is not transmitted by contact, the idea remained part of the pandemic theater).
The magazines were removed from the seats to make it easier to maintain hygiene measures. To this we must add that the last year has been brutal for the airlines and that marketing has been one of the spaces in which things have been cut.
If few consumers fly and if they also do so for reasons unrelated to the dream universe of travel, the on-board magazine does not work. Now, however, a certain normality is returning. Airlines are recovering frequencies, dream trips are returning and consumption is normalizing. The onboard magazine isn’t coming back with all of them. It has become the latest collateral damage of the crisis, which has pushed it to a digitization that had resisted it a bit.
Airlines cancel them
Recognizing that it is somewhat sad, American Airlines has announced that it stops publishing, after 55 years of circulation, American Way , its in-flight magazine. Instead of the paper magazine, the airline will reinforce its digital content. Other airlines, as published in The Wall Street Journal , also canceled their paper magazines, but they will do so with less fanfare.
Delta Air and Southwest Airlines, two other large US airlines, had removed the paper magazines for hygiene with the beginning of the pandemic. Now, they just won’t get it back. The movement is not limited to the United States and its industry. Japanese or Singaporean airlines have also announced that they are closing the magazine and others acknowledge that they are investigating it.
The main reason is the migration of content consumption to the network and mobile devices. Consumers carry smartphones, tablets and even computers where they access their own content. With it, they do not need the entertainment of the magazine. If people don’t read it, the magazine loses its marketing and advertising strengths and for the airline it stops working.
The pandemic has accelerated a trend that was already coming (a company specializing in this type of magazines already went bankrupt in 2015 due to, precisely, the competition of devices on airplanes). The airlines still want, even so, to put their own content in consumers’ inflight entertainment times.
Now, however, they will do so more from their own websites or by creating videos that can be seen on the inflight entertainment systems. Eliminating the magazine also means savings. There is the cut in the investment of doing it, but also surprisingly what weighs down the consumption of each of the flights.
Eliminating the weight of the magazines makes the plane surprisingly lighter: Finnair is investigating just that point, how it affects the weight of the plane. The airline is one of those that is considering whether or not to eliminate its on-board magazine.