WEB & TECH / FEB. 16, 2015
version 3, draft 3

The End of In-Flight Shopping - SkyMall Files for Bankruptcy

For decades, SkyMall has held a position between airline barf bags and the airline’s safety sheet. Everyone has seen it but unfortunately not many remember it. It is the catalogue with offbeat and often bizarre products available only to air travellers, which include bottom-enhancing padded briefs for men and a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat. Unfortunately, you will not be able to buy a Beer Pouch Hoodie once SkyMall goes bankrupt.

A twenty-five-year legacy

SkyMall was first launched in 1989 on a flight from Seattle to Phoenix. It had been the exclusive shopping option for travellers since. But, from their 33.7-million-dollar profit in 2012, their income has dropped to a meager 15.8 million dollars last year. This prompted the company to file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, cited as a severe liquid assets crisis.

The reasons

Now SkyMall mentions the increased use of smart-devices as the reason for their demise. Well, that and in combination with most airlines now offering WiFi on their flights (according, always, to SkyMall) created an upsurge of e-commerce on flights instead of catalogue purchases. I’ve been on a few flights, and to be honest with you, I have never really seen anyone buying stuff from the catalogue. I’ve seen snarky remarks written in them, confessions of love between two anonymous (to me) people, and the occasional yet classic: model turned eyepatch-wearing vampire with devil horns, but seldom have I seen someone actually purchase something.

The real truth

Honestly, SkyMall wasn’t anything more than a gag and gadget store that just happened to exist 30,000 feet over the Earth. There was no consumer engagement, other than it was there in the pouch in front of you; I guess they have availability working for them. Also, the only type of customer service representative they had available was the flight attendants and what they didn’t know about SkyMall could fill a jumbo jet. So yeah, I’d say that their business plan was pretty airy. Get it? Airy? I refuse to spell it out for you; figure it out yourself.

The light at the end of the tunnel

The most recent news regarding SkyMall’s bankruptcy is the interest Idaho businessman Scott Jordan has shown for purchasing the brand. He intends on updating SkyMall’s business model and bringing the magazine into the digital age. Hopefully, he will preserve such classics as the Lighted Slippers.

Have you ever purchased from SkyMall? Of course you haven’t; like I said, I don’t think anyone ever has. If you are interested, please comment in the section below.

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