Who knows just how many bored airline passengers have picked up the SkyMall magazine and flipped through its pages of packed zany and rather bizarre products to while away the hours at 35,000ft?
For many years, the inflight magazine offering items that ranged from heated cat shelters to barbecue tools with a built-in flashlight, was a mainstay of US airlines.
Travel agenda - 23/1/2015
Travel agenda - 23/1/2015
1/8 Balearic beauty
Accommodation specialist i-escape has launched its first collection of properties on the island of Menorca. The eight boutique hotels and villas include the recently opened Hotel Petit Mao, an eight-bedroom townhouse in the island's capital, and Ca Na Xini, an agrotourism estate on a working vineyard.
2/8 Dorset drama
Broadchurch fans rejoice. Literary Lyme Walking Tours is hosting a day trip to some of the Dorset locations used in the ITV drama. Sites include the hut from Series 1, the caravan site, the harbour, police station, and the cliffs that have become synonymous with the series. The Broadchurch Experience is on 25 May; tickets £30.
3/8 Georgia bound
At the end of this month Virgin Atlantic abandons its routes from Heathrow to Mumbai and Tokyo, but the airline is expanding in March from Manchester to Atlanta – home of its partner, Delta Airlines. Easy connections are available to a wide range of cities with no direct flights, such as Memphis and New Orleans.
4/8 Hot Hyatt
Hyatt is set to open its first hotel on the East African island of Zanzibar in March. The 67-bed property, set within two buildings on the beachfront of Unesco-listed Stone Town, will have a spa and fitness centre, an oceanfront infinity pool, and a dining room with an outdoor terrace.
5/8 Reserve now
The hotly anticipated La Réserve Paris Hotel and Spa has opened its 40 rooms and suites between Avenue Montaigne and Faubourg Saint-Honoré. French food will be served in the restaurant, Le Gabriel, and guests can use a private library, a bar, a smoking room, a 16m swimming pool and a spa.
6/8 Finn link
Helsinki airport finally gets a rail-air link to the city centre in July, when the much-delayed Ring Rail Line opens. The €750m project will shrink the journey time to the city centre to 20 minutes. It also offers easy connections to other Finnish destinations and even across the Russian border to St Petersburg.
7/8 Blaze a trail
Blaze a trail
Peru's Cordilleras Blanca & Huayhuash, by Neil and Harriet Pike, is a new guide to a region north-west of Lima that's often neglected by Brits in favour of the Inca Trail, but it has some of the world's finest trekking and mountain biking. The guide has 20 hiking trails and 30 days of cycle routes (Trailblazer Publications, £15.99).
8/8 North star
The Foreign Office has announced that overseas visitors to the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna and surroundings no longer need official approval. But it warns: "Military activities are ongoing. You should obey orders from the security forces and signs warning of the danger from land-mines."
But no more. Today the Associated Press reported that passengers were clearly no longer buying sufficient number of personalised pyjamas and garden gnomes after the magazine filed for bankruptcy.
The magazine had been around since 1989, but in recent years passengers have found other distractions. More planes have seat-back TV screens and the authorities now permit the use of laptops and tablets during flights. Many planes in the US now have Wi-Fi.
“Nobody’s bored anymore. They don’t have a captive audience,” said John DiScala, who runs the travel advice site JohnnyJet.com “Not only is it full of germs but travellers today have all the information they need at their fingertips.”
Among the more odd items offered by the magazine was Tex the Armadillo Beverage Holder
“Protect your beverage of choice until you're ready to uncap and unwind,” said the advertisement. “Our rough-n-ready armadillo, Tex, is a sure-fire conversation piece from his textured armour to his whiplash tail.”
Another was a glass ornament shaped to look like a Polish dumpling, or pierogi, and hung on a Christmas tree. “Our finely crafted and tastefully decorated ornament is sure to become a family heirloom,” claimed the SkyMall advert.
SkyMall’s parent company, Phoenix, Arizona-based Xhibit Corp, filed for Chapter 11 protection in US bankruptcy court. In the filing, the company said it has $1mn to $10mn in assets but $10mn to $50mn in liabilities.
Its biggest creditors are airlines. The company owes American Airlines $1.6mn, Delta Air Lines $1.5mn, Southwest Airlines $400,000 and United Airlines $300,000. It also has debts with UPS, specialty retailer Hammacher Schlemmer and American Express.
“Given how much of a joke SkyMall is among travellers, Im not surprised,” Matt Kepnes, author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, told the AP. “I don't know anybody who has ever purchased anything from them.”
In court papers, acting Chief Executive Scott Wiley cited a “crowded, rapidly evolving and intensely competitive” retail environment as the reason for the quarterly publication’s recent nosedive.
“With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalogue,” Mr Wiley added.
SkyMall hopes to complete a sale by April. But Mr Wiley also said creditors are prepared to shut down the company if necessary.
If it survives, SkyMall must find a way to stay relevant to passengers who are no longer a captive audience. It will also need to find a way to persuade airlines to keep filling their planes with the magazine.Reuse content