A Sad Day for In-Flight Entertainment

By Mona Malacane

It was an unseasonably warm and sunny Friday – the type of day that I usually enjoy no matter what bad news comes my way. But January 23rd quickly turned dreary and downcast when Michelle Funk informed me that SkyMall®, our favorite magazine, had filed for bankruptcy.

To clarify, SkyMall (and its parent company) has filed for bankruptcy protection. According to the Wall Street Journal, SkyMall “suspended its retail catalog operation on January 16, and laid off 47 of its 137 employees.” In denial, I called the 1-800-SkyMall number in the magazine and heard the message transcribed below:

“Thank you for calling Skymall. We have moved our ordering and customer service operations completely online. Please visit our website at www.skymall.com to place your order or use the contact link if you have questions about a product. You can also receive customer service on existing orders by logging into your account and using the contact form or email. Thank you for your understanding while we make this big transition.”

A screenshot of SkyMall's perserverence from its website.

A screenshot of SkyMall’s continued existence via its website.

I got back to Michelle Funk, my fellow SkyMall enthusiast, for her thoughts on the matter, who said “All I can say is that it’s a tragic loss, and that I’m going to make friendship bracelets out of my last remaining copies.” (I will put my friendship bracelet on with the help of the Bracelet Assitant, pictured below)

How is this even possible, you ask? How is it that the demand for a bag with a 3-D graphic of an eyeball that winks as you pass it (only $39.95), or a luggage-scooter (or scooter-luggage? Only $349.99) , or a wine holder shaped like a baseball player getting ready to “hit a homerun” (only $43.99), or the Roomba for grills (comes in 4 colors and a steal at $119.99) has declined so sharply that the company must protect itself from going belly-up?

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SkyMall’s chief executive, Scott Wiley, points to the proliferation of mobile devices and increased availability of in-flight wi-fi as major contributors to the magazine’s decline. Instead of flipping through the pages of this wonderfully diverse and entrepreneurial magazine, passengers are instead playing Candy Crush or posting selfies on Instagram. Seeing the waning customer interest in the magazine, both Delta and Southwest Airlines have decided to end their subscriptions and will no longer be supplying its passengers with this in-flight retail catalog.

In the wake of this terrible tragedy, there is a glimmer of hope for the magazine. It looks as though the bankruptcy filing has attracted a potential buyer interested in saving the publication that so many have enjoyed since its inception in 1989. One can only hope … I will end this post with a few notable and unique SkyMall products:

The Pierogi Ornament, a steal at $9.95. Boasts a perfect 5-star rating from over 100 reviewers!

pierogi

The Fireburning Portable Hot tub, $3999.99. Includes a ledge for drinks and you can even grill food with the flames.

hot tub

The Curious Cub Bottle Holder, $32.99. For those who aren’t baseball enthusiasts but still enjoy a unique (and adorable) wine bottle holder.

cub

The Innovia Countertop Automatic Paper Towel Dispenser, $99.99. Available in four colors and your choice of either countertop or under-cabinet mounting styles.

paper towl

The Seabreacher Customized Boat, $85,000 (Not eligible for discounts). Shown below with a custom shark paint scheme, but many options are available.

seabreacher

The Bigfoot Garden Yeti Statue ©, ranging from $99.95 to 2,250.00 depending on size. What else is there to say? This is a SkyMall classic.

yeti

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