A staple in American Airlines seatbacks since 1966 is no more. The airline has announced it's discontinuing American Way, which it says is the industry's oldest continuously published magazine. Southwest and Delta dropped their magazines during the pandemic, USA Today reports, but American's kept going, with the covers announcing its new "antimicrobial process." Airlines removed copies last year, per the AP, to keep people from touching pages that had been touched by others. The June issue now on planes will be the last, and the online edition also is shutting down, per KXAS. The magazine thrived for a long time, shifting from yearly to quarterly to monthly publications. Its combination of articles about the airline itself and destinations, plus airport terminal maps and various information near the back of the issue, was imitated by the competition.
American Way has evolved over the years. The first issue used "stewardess" throughout and suggested business travelers buy a sale fare for "your wife"; the final issue has a feature on LGBTQ neighborhoods. The hundreds of digital offerings on flights, including movies and TV shows, spelled the end, an executive said. It's past time to retire airline magazines, a travel analyst said. "These are relics from the decades past," he said. A former airline executive who oversaw one of the magazines said that "American Way was an institution'' but that he doesn't think travelers will notice it's gone. The head of a publisher of in-flight magazines doesn't think they're finished yet. "Many of our other airline partners are doubling down on inspiring travel-focused customer communication," he said. United is bringing back Hemispheres this month, he pointed out, while Virgin Atlantic is restoring its magazine in September. (Read more American Airlines stories.)