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American Airlines Outsources Its In-Flight Magazine

My first full-time magazine job was at American Way, the in-flight for the airline. This was circa 1993. Zac worked there, too, prior to joining D, from 2005 to 2007. Eric did several tours there (and at Spirit, Southwest’s in-flight, which was later taken over by Pace). Jessica Jones, who works for our D Home, used to work there. And American Way’s creative director (David Radabaugh) and senior art director (Brian Smith) once worked for D. Point is: there are a lot of connections between that magazine and this one.

So I was dismayed to learn that the operation will no longer be run in-house by American Airlines Publishing. The airline has decided to outsource the magazine to a London-based company called Ink. The first Ink-stained issue will find its way into seat-back pockets in January 2015. I asked Adam Pitluk, the director of AA Publishing, for some more details about the move.

He tells me Ink will open offices in Miami and somewhere in North Texas. Miami will mainly do global sales, and the office here will handle editorial. Pitluk will remain at AA to manage the relationship between the two companies and to produce the passenger information pages in the back of the magazine. Fifteen people work at AA Publishing. Ink’s new staff will be a combination of current AA employees and new hires. “We are confident,” Pitluk said, “that we can find homes either at Ink or at American for the majority of the staff.”

Once upon a time, American Way was a fat, ambitious magazine that ran 4,000-word stories by the likes of Paul Theroux. I’ve still got a phone number for David Sedaris in my contacts because I called him out the blue once to ask him to write for the magazine. God only knows if the number works. Probably not. And the magazine itself no longer works like it once did. No more 4,000-word stories, no more 300-page issues. But for my money it’s still the best in-flight. I hope the folks at Ink take good care of it.