American revamps in-flight magazine. Do people still read these things?

American Way magazine has a new look. Photo: American Airlines

American Way magazine has a new look. Photo: American Airlines

How important are in-flight magazines?

Given the world has moved to digital, you would think in-flight magazines would be losing their clout. But Gary Leff, of View From the Wing, has a nice piece this week about how important American Way magazine remains to American Airlines.  American and US Airways merged their magazine on January 1, and it now has a new look and publishing schedule. 

Some facts from Gary's piece:

  • American produces 700,000 copies of the magazine each month
  • American estimates it attracts 500,000 readers per day
  • The airline says American Way has an annual reach of 193 readers
  • The magazine receives 37,000 letters per year

I wonder how long these numbers will stay so high. As people bring more of their own devices and content on board, will they still want to read the in-flight magazine? 

Also, I presume that eventually, these magazines will move to digital formats. I'm sure there's a way for the airline to allow you to read them for free on your own iPads and other tablets. Presumably, you could do so by connecting for free to the airplane's wifi system. In fact, I wonder if any airline does that now. Does anyone know?