Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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You may miss SkyMall, but the airlines won’t

January 28, 2015

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You probably breathed a sign of nostalgia last week when you heard about the demise of SkyMall, the quirky catalog found on airplanes that sells stuff nobody really needs. And while airlines look like heavies for dropping the catalog from their flights, the move actually will save them money.

Wired calculated that American Airlines alone will save nearly $350,000 in fuel by removing the weight that the catalog represents. Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines are also dropping SkyMall, a reason its parent company filed for bankruptcy protection.

Wait a minute: the SkyMall catalog doesn’t weigh that much, right? But when anything is done in volume, things add up. It’s the same reason why airlines no longer offer magazines to their passengers.

Here is how Wired crunched its numbers.

  • Each copy of the magazine weighs about four ounces. The average jet has about 150 seats. That works out to 37.5 pounds per aircraft.
  • Carrying those magazines on all American’s flights requires 222,882 gallons of jet fuel each year.
  • At $1.58 per gallon, the savings to American is  $352,154.53.

So, while passengers may miss the chance to browse SkyMall on board, the airlines are enjoying the savings.

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