After 55 years, American Airlines will eliminate its in-flight magazine, American Way, at the end of the month. I can’t say that I will miss this hallmark of in-flight entertainment, as I view magazines as about as relevant as cassette tapes and disposable cameras. Still, there’s a nostalgic element to in-flight magazines that hearken back to a different era of travel.
American Airlines Eliminates American Way Magazine
I grew up during a time in which American Way served as vital in-flight-entertainment. When I was a kid, televisions ran down the center of the aisle with special “Eye on American” programming from CBS featuring cheesy sitcoms or poorly-rated movies.
That left American Way (as well as airline-issued decks of playing cards) as my primary source of entertainment. In fact, since 1966 American Way has surprised and delighted passengers from around the world.
Steak houses in Austin? Plastic surgeons in Dallas? Dentists in Charlotte? For the last several years, the AA magazine has become primarily an advertising feature, with a smattering of articles and features.
While other airlines eliminated their onboard magazine during the pandemic, at least in physical form, American Airlines continued to stock it onboard.
But I’m guessing the ad revenue no longer covered expenses, as American Airlines has announced the magazine will end its 55-year run and June 2021 will be the last published issue.
Progress Or Regress?
American promises the following entertainment that has effectively taken the place of an in-flight magazine:
- A library of up to 600 movies and TV shows
- A collection of more than 150 creative, productivity or language classes on American’s new Lifestyle inflight entertainment channel featuring Rosetta Stone and Skillshare content
- Customers may continue to view entertaining travel content created in partnership with Ink
- Wide range of kids’ content with new releases and classics, as well as options for our youngest travelers provided by BabyFirst and StoryBots
- Live music and concert performances from top venues such as Austin City Limits
- Meditation and relaxation exercises from Calm, a leader in content that helps users relax, sleep or become more mindful
It’s true: we live and fly in a whole new world and the need for a physical magazine is no longer present.
I’m a bit surprised the magazine will not continue in digital form, but perhaps advertisers are unwilling to pay for digital space precisely because there are so many other options now to distract passengers.
Speaking personally, I’ve gone totally digital in my news consumption and no longer have physical newspapers or magazines delivered to the house. While there’s something to be said for something you can hold in your hand, I can fit hundreds of digital publications into my phone and cut down on paper waste in the process.
Technological process often renders old customs and habits obsolete: it’s the American way; it’s the way of the world. In-flight magazines, like duty free sales, are relics of the past and slowly disappearing. While I feel bad for those employees who will lose their jobs, I cannot say that I’ll miss the magazine. In that sense, perhaps it was a huge missed opportunity.
Meanwhile, United Airlines has restored its Hemispheres in-flight magazine onboard this month after a 16-month hiatus.
And poor Michael Scott of The Office. Whatever will he do?