End of an era: American will drop its in-flight magazine

The pandemic hastened the demise of in-flight magazines.

American Airlines

FORT WORTH, Texas – After more than half a century in airplane seatback pockets, the American Airlines in-flight magazine American Way is going away.

An airline spokeswoman said Friday that American will retire the magazine and its online version at the end of June.

American says it’s the oldest continuously published magazine in the airline industry, dating back to 1966. American Way went from yearly to quarterly and then monthly, filled with stories about the airline, destinations it served, and an assortment of other features. There were also airport terminal maps and other information toward the back. It spawned imitators at many other airlines.

The pandemic hastened the demise of in-flight magazines, as airlines pulled them last year to prevent people from thumbing through pages that had been touched by other passengers. Delta and Southwest dropped theirs, and British Airways stopped stocking paper copies of “High Life” while keeping the online version.

But the days of the in-flight magazine were numbered anyway, as passengers began spending more time browsing other information and entertainment on their phones, tablets and laptops.

American said it will provide other in-flight programming to give customers “more of what they want” while reducing paper waste and unnecessary weight on planes.