American Airlines Ends Inflight Magazine

American Airlines Ends Inflight Magazine

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The latest victim of the pandemic is American Airlines’ inflight magazine…

American Way magazine being cut

American Airlines’ inflight magazine, American Way, launched in 1966. After being published for around 55 years, the magazine will “retire” as of June 2021.

The magazine has been published by global travel media company Ink, and the last-ever issue is on planes right now. American Way has had everything from travel and lifestyle stories, to ads for questionable plastic surgeons and steakhouses in random cities.

American notes that there are plenty of ways for customers to stay entertained on flights, thanks to streaming entertainment.

American isn’t the only major airline to have made changes to its inflight magazine — the Delta Sky magazine has been discontinued as well, while the United Hemispheres magazine was mailed out to elite members during the pandemic to keep readership levels up.

The end of inflight magazines was inevitable

Several years ago we saw SkyMall file for bankruptcy, which was probably a foreshadowing of what was to come. SkyMall was a thing for so long because people literally had nothing to do on planes. Sure, you may not have boarded a plane thinking you needed the world’s largest wine glass, a garden gnome, a glow in the dark toilet seat, or a foot tanner, but damnit, by the time you landed you were considering a full redesign of your home, as well as your life’s priorities.

Inflight magazines survived for a long time because they made money with advertising rather than actually selling anything, and they could claim a high circulation. But at this point it’s hard to imagine there’s any future for inflight magazines:

  • We’re increasingly seeing airlines offer streaming entertainment and Wi-Fi
  • Even without that, people bring their own entertainment, in the form of smartphones and tables, which weren’t nearly as common a decade ago
  • With people more concerned about touching dirty surfaces, many would avoid a magazine that has been sitting in a seatback for weeks
  • Inflight magazines aren’t great for the environment, both in terms of the paper they’re printed on, and in terms of the added fuel burn from the weight of them, and that’s increasingly a concern for airlines

When you combine all those factors, it’s not surprising to see airlines eliminate these, one-by-one. While I suppose inflight magazines could instead be available digitally, would anyone actually read them?

I think most people read inflight magazines not because they’re necessarily that interested, but rather because they have nothing better to do. If people are going to access them from a smartphone or laptop, chances are that there’s something else they’d rather read first.

Bottom line

The current issue of American Way magazine will be the last one ever published, as American Airlines’ inflight magazine will be discontinued, This was inevitable, as the ways that people entertain themselves on planes has evolved over time, thanks to streaming and seatback entertainment, as well as Wi-Fi. Add in the impacts of coronavirus, and it’s not surprising that this happened sooner rather than later.

I feel bad for the people (presumably) losing their jobs over this, and there’s also something sentimental about inflight magazines, which I’ll miss. When I’d fly well over a decade ago I remember reading these magazines cover to cover, and always looking forward to a new issue coming out.

Has anyone read an inflight magazine on any airline in the past few years?

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  1. DallasOne

    Disappointed while i use a computer a lot it is nice to have other media options such the American way magazine. I have enjoyed reading it since my first American Airlines flight in 1986. I would look at the magazine when Taxing before takeoff and till you could start using the computer then once again when you had to put your computer away for the descent and till we reached the gate. Also I would...

    Disappointed while i use a computer a lot it is nice to have other media options such the American way magazine. I have enjoyed reading it since my first American Airlines flight in 1986. I would look at the magazine when Taxing before takeoff and till you could start using the computer then once again when you had to put your computer away for the descent and till we reached the gate. Also I would take the magazine with me leaving it at work or bringing home for family. So I will miss it but does not surprise me that American is abruptly ending it. As a 2.3 million miler Platinum for Life. I am more shocked that I found this out on the internet and not via an email to me. But then again Im just another passenger to Americn.

  2. Charles Blue

    What about the Terminal maps? What about the aircraft info?
    Not always easy to find this stuff, and looking at terminal maps on a phone screen in the AA app, well, try it and see. How many people can find info on their airline (i.e. brand [AA] fleet at seatguru.com Most travellers don't know about that resource.

  3. Ixora

    I’m torn… As a digital native & environmentalist, I can see how this makes sense. But there’s also nothing that compares with the tactile experience of reading a book or magazine. We lose something every time a legacy print magazine and newspaper folds. So this makes me sad.

  4. Andrew R.

    I’m actually sad to see it go. Guess I’m one of the few weirdos who was actually interested in reading stories in American Way!

  5. Milo

    "3 perfect days" inside Hemispheres are great reads.

    That said, those inflight magazines are just filthy. It shouldn't take a pandemic for people to realize that.

    Lastly, printed media is dying. Not sure why inflight magazines are any different. Printing periodicals is a complete waste of paper, ink, and in case of inflight magazines, jet fuel.

  6. Ken adamowicz

    I miss skymall, it was so great. I’m sorry I didn’t buy more useless stuff.

  7. Aaron

    Wow. So they get rid of the seatback IFE and now the in-flight magazine. Imagine if your phone was dead and you forgot your charging cable. And now, no magazine to keep you occupied either. You're left with the safety card and the vomit bag. Talk about a miserable flight.

  8. RF

    It's still good to have non-battery powered media like newspapers & magazines when traveling.

  9. mdande7

    @Ben just a funny typo, I don't think anyone is bringing tables on the plane!

  10. EthaninSF

    I've been collecting inflight magazines since I was a kid - mostly for the route maps! Although, I do recall one article from Alaska Airlines Magazine from the mid-90s that was a well researched article on the growth of Starbucks and fancy coffee in the US. Still have that article to this day! Will miss the magazines on board, they were a perfect way to pass time - especially when you were not able to charge your electronic device!

  11. Eskimo

    Could someone explain why American Airlines thinks 3 inflight magazines published Bi-Monthly was a good idea.
    Celebrated Living for First Class, American Way for coach, Nexos in Spanish.

    I can live with that on DL. It sucks on AA because they don't have IFE fleet wide.

  12. James

    I always found it irrationally entertaining to study the airport maps in the back of American Way, even though I know how all of those airports are laid out.

  13. pelican55

    United's Hemisheres magazine was re-instated in flights on June 1st.

  14. Frederik

    Lucky,

    In Europe you have probably noticed that other than the very newest planes, the domestic and inter regional flights do not have wifi activated even in business class. That is why the loss of the magazine on airlines such as EasyJet and Jet2 would be such a big deal for me. So I hope they don’t go away and I prefer paper to screens, especially with battery stress and needing phone charge for taxi and ticket on other end etc.

  15. Frederik

    Lucky,

    In Europe you have probably noticed that other than the very newest planes, the domestic and inter regional flights do not have wifi activated even in business class. That is why the loss of the magazine on airlines such as EasyJet and Jet2 would be such a big deal for me.

  16. Stuart

    How will I ever find out which are currently, "America's Top Ten Steakhouses?"

  17. Alex

    In all honesty, I am going to miss the route maps and fleet details.

  18. Jonathan

    United brought back hemispheres on the plane for the month of June.

  19. Bill

    Next flight….extra suitcase….50 inflight magazines….wait 50 years…..sell on EBay….retire.

    1. Eskimo

      Sorry to break the bad news. Most of the comics from 50 years ago are worth less that $10 each.
      So you probably end up retiring with $500 equivalent of today's value.

      People always believe the junks they are keeping and passing on to grandkids are worth millions.

  20. DunderMiflin

    Michael Scott is going to be devastated https://youtu.be/3x6W1-LdCvc

  21. AA70

    I will forever miss the route maps and fleet lists

  22. Abey

    When flying international airlines it is absolutely something I will peruse both because the flight is so long that I can’t be watching entertainment the whole time and I’d like to learn about the airline, route map history etc and the country I’m flying to, many have really interesting write ups about the culture etc.
    Perhaps they should just offer an e-version?

  23. Willmo

    I hope they stick around. On inter European flights where WiFi is still an exception, not the norm, it is definitely nice to browse through them.

    Nice that BA transitioned High Life over to a digital format.

    1. Jamie

      High Life has some really great articles too. Probably a marginally higher level of intelligence required than the U.S. Carriers magazines.

  24. Kyle

    Sad to see this go but can see why. I’m curious about their Celebrated Living magazine they had exclusively in domestic first/international biz. I noticed at the start of the pandemic it was removed and haven’t seen it come back yet (guessing never now). The magazine was more lifestyle focused and more interesting to read than American Way.

    1. Anthony

      Loved Celebrated Living. Keep asking AA if it was ever coming back, we absolutely know it won't now. Shame, reminded me of Departures and Centurion Magazine.

  25. UA-NYC

    Hemispheres actually shockingly got really good with the mailed out version

    Fun while it lasted

  26. William

    Very disappointing - first thing I do after I get settled in is grab the magazine and tackle the crossword puzzle; usually I can knock it out before takeoff. At some point in flight I will hammer out at least one Sudoku. And yes, route maps, terminal maps, fleet guides, etc were all fascinating.

    I will be mentioning the loss of the magazine in any post-flight surveys I receive, though I know it won’t make a difference.

  27. Jason

    I'm really annoyed and saddened by this. I liked the inflight magazine and think that keeping it throughout the pandemic was one of the things that AA did right. As others stated, I loved looking at the route maps, the airport maps, etc. Kept me engaged with the airline. Sad it's going away.

  28. DLPTATL

    I personally will miss the in-flight magazine. I found myself looking at the route maps all the time thinking about future travel plans during taxi/take-off/landing when using personal devices or IFE was limited. I also liked the fleet pages. It was particularly fun when on an airline I didn't know as well. Just had a flight on AeroMexico and flipped through their magazine and found it fun.

    Specific to AA, they should keep the...

    I personally will miss the in-flight magazine. I found myself looking at the route maps all the time thinking about future travel plans during taxi/take-off/landing when using personal devices or IFE was limited. I also liked the fleet pages. It was particularly fun when on an airline I didn't know as well. Just had a flight on AeroMexico and flipped through their magazine and found it fun.

    Specific to AA, they should keep the magazine with all those planes without seatback IFE.

    1. 305

      Figured I wasn’t the only one who did this. Loved the route map/fleet pages as well

    2. Anthony

      Loved them as well. Tragic.

    3. Donna

      Me too! I always paged through them and checked out the route maps along with terminal layouts for places I was transiting along with places I might someday visit.

  29. Alex

    American Way was great if you were looking for a plastic surgeon in southern Florida. Pages upon pages of doctors to choose from.

  30. Disco Dave

    United’s Hemispheres has been printed during the pandemic and was mailed to elites. It was an excellent marketing tool to stay connected to homebound customers. As of this month Hemispheres is BACK on planes.

Featured Comments Load all 37 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Disco Dave

United’s Hemispheres has been printed during the pandemic and was mailed to elites. It was an excellent marketing tool to stay connected to homebound customers. As of this month Hemispheres is BACK on planes.

DunderMiflin

Michael Scott is going to be devastated https://youtu.be/3x6W1-LdCvc

DallasOne

Disappointed while i use a computer a lot it is nice to have other media options such the American way magazine. I have enjoyed reading it since my first American Airlines flight in 1986. I would look at the magazine when Taxing before takeoff and till you could start using the computer then once again when you had to put your computer away for the descent and till we reached the gate. Also I would take the magazine with me leaving it at work or bringing home for family. So I will miss it but does not surprise me that American is abruptly ending it. As a 2.3 million miler Platinum for Life. I am more shocked that I found this out on the internet and not via an email to me. But then again Im just another passenger to Americn.

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