In-Flight Magazines No Longer Just Chewing-Gum Repositories

Folio: reports on the relaunch of United AirlinesHemispheres magazine under a new publisher: redesigned, rethought, reinvented.

To start, the new editor of the mag is Aaron Gell, a Radar vet.

“We’re not approaching it as a service magazine,” Gell told Folio:. “We’re approaching it as a general interest magazine—something you would pay for before you get on a flight…No more ‘Top 10 Steakhouses.'”

The theory behind the reinvention? More competition. Passengers are no longer the captive audience they once were, with only the in-flight movie, the snack cart, and wailing babies to compete with in-flight magazines’ appeal. “We all know there is going to be Wi-Fi on planes soon, it’s already starting right now,” Gell said, “so we’re going to have to fight for attention.”

Gell and his team are looking to attract a new breed of advertisers to go along with the mag’s new content. To do that, Folio: reports, the magazine is turning down some advertisers and refusing to continue with contracts the company inherited from the previous publisher. No more hair-replacement ads, no more dating services. The mag should feel “very European” when the transformation’s over, said Simon Leslie, the publishing director of Ink Publishing, which took over the magazine from Pace Communications.

The magazine officially launches today, so if you’re flying anywhere (maybe you’re flying into JFK to join us at the circus tomorrow?) grab a copy and let us know what you think.