Mon, Feb 09, 2015 - Page 14 News List

Airlines’ magazines not ready to be written off yet

PAPER VS ELECTRONICS:Airlines are overhauling their magazines to make them more enticing, entertaining and better able to compete with passengers’ iPads


“We put a lot of energy into our in-flight magazine,” said Jean Charles Trehan, vice president of corporate communications, who oversees the publications. “It’s a good way of supporting the brand image of Air France.”

The airline has never considered giving up the glossy paper versions even as it’s making them available online.

“Studies show that people enjoy the experience on paper. There will always be a paper magazine. We’re in the business of providing luxury,” Trehan said in an interview.

American Airlines recently revamped its four-decade-old magazine, which reaches 193 million people annually, by hiring London-based media company Ink Global.

The overhauled American Way appeared last month with a new layout, features and a redesigned cover featuring rock band Foo Fighters.

“It continues to be an important part of our marketing strategy,” Fernand Fernandez, vice president for American’s global marketing, said in an e-mailed statement.

United Airlines, whose two publications Hemispheres and Rhapsody reach 140 million passengers a year, has also used Ink to help spiff up its product.

Since 2009, Ink has hired writers like New York Times columnist David Carr and essayist Sloan Crosley to lend some heft to Hemispheres and started chasing luxury advertisers.

Even as in-flight magazines go upscale, they also serve an important basic function for many people.

“The unsung hero of the in-flight magazine is that fleet page and the route map,” Girard said.

While some travelers might lament the disappearance of SkyMall, the quirky, in-flight shopping catalog that shared seat-pocket real estate with airline magazines and filed for bankruptcy protection last month, they can rest easy that the crossword puzzle will still be there.

“Magazines will stay around for quite some time and electronic onboard platforms will come on top,” Steinhaus said. “We may see a point in time when a printed magazine may actually become something special, just like a personal letter on paper.”

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