RIP SkyMall


Before you start reading this, you might need to sit down.

Are you sitting now?  Good.

SkyMall as we currently know it is about to be gone.  After 25 years of having its in-flight catalog full of unusual items for the viewing pleasure of airplane passengers, SkyMall’s parent firm filed for federal bankruptcy court protection due to a funding crisis.  The parent firm, Skymall LLC, is also seeking a court-supervised sale of their assets.

So SkyMall isn’t technically dead, but it may be under new management soon.

Before we start mourning this loss, let’s look at the changes between 25 years ago and now.  For starters, the Internet was created 25 years ago.  I say this just to put the flying experience into perspective: you couldn’t watch television on the back of the seat in front of you and you certainly couldn’t watch a movie on your iPad.   Reading– or sleeping– was an activity people used to kill time during flights, making SkyMall’s publication perfect.  In other words, there was a market for the publication (not necessarily the unusual knickknacks found within the pages of said publication).

This is a great example of how the landscape of print publications is changing.  We’ve already seen this already with the decline of newspapers.

“With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog,” SkyMall’s CEO Scott Wiley said in a statement Friday.  “The substantial increase in the number of air carriers which provide Internet access, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s recent decision to allow the use of electronic devices during take-off and landing, resulted in additional competition from e-commerce retailers and additional competition for the attention of passengers, all of which further negatively impacted SkyMall’s catalog sales,” he continued.

Wiley hit the nail on the head.  People have other things to do while among the clouds and SkyMall suffered because of it.

No matter what happened to make SkyMall fail, I’m going to miss having the option of ordering something random while on a plane.