Mark Jones: Magazine or ebook with your onboard meal, Sir?

The View From Here

It was the kind of meltdown you get when a celebrity is asked to observe the rules that apply to ordinary people.

The actor Alec Baldwin was asked to leave an American Airlines flight for refusing to turn his iPad off as the flight prepared for take-off. The outraged star even took the machine into the loo and shouted at the crew when they suggested he return to his seat and turn off all electronic equipment.

Let's hope he gets a heavy and very old-fashioned book thrown at him. He should be banned from using any electronic entertainment and made to read inflight magazines for the rest of his flying life.

Some of you will argue that such a punishment is excessive and verges on the inhumane. Surely no 21st-century traveller should be forced to consume dog-eared publications featuring "A message from our chief executive" or "The art of basket-weaving In Upper Silesia"? As the late Miles Kington once quipped, given the choice between reading the sick bag and the inflight mag, he'd choose the sick bag.

I've had a long association with High Life, BA's inflight magazine – and have long begged readers and advertisers not to compare it with other airline magazines. We've employed proper writers and photographers and have never, ever written about basket weaving (although, true, a predecessor of mine did once run an article called "All the world loves a potato").

We try, as my marketing friends say, to transcend the category. But soon there may not be a category to transcend. Airlines are experimenting with something hideous called "gate-to-gate connectivity", which means the Baldwins of this world can play their games from the moment they're settled in their seats. Then we'll get inflight streaming, so you can download content to your heart's content. Paper? Reading? That's costly, dull stuff that clutters up the seat pocket and weighs down the plane.

That, at least, is what some media gurus and faddish airline execs are thinking. But it's emphatically not what the passengers are saying. We carried out a survey, asking if travellers would prefer a digital version of High Life and five out of six said they prefer print.

Enough advertising from me. I'm more than happy to plug other airlines' mags. Air Canada does a creditable job, and some of the US editions are better than the airlines that sponsor them. Two low-cost operators, Vueling in Spain and Kulula in South Africa, do sparky and funky really well, and the offers from easyJet and Ryanair are highly readable.

However, the standard still isn't high enough – there's too much self-serving corporate bumf. This is a shame, because the aircraft cabin is about the last place left where you still have time to sit, reflect and read. More connectivity is coming, but passengers, especially regulars, are highly ambivalent. They see flying as a refuge: from emails, calls – even family.

Even the marketing people are coming around. A man from Mintel gave a fascinating presentation the other day on the rise of what he dubbed Slow Media. Just as some of us like to take our time over our food, so we might like to sit quietly with a good book or a magazine for an hour or two. That's not Luddite; it's just human.

Mark Jones is editorial director of Cedar Communications, which publishes BA's High Life magazine

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits