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

News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there