Goodbye SkyMall -- Thanks For All the Ish!

Sylvie Barak

January 23, 2015

3 Min Read
Goodbye SkyMall -- Thanks For All the Ish!

Airline flight today contains few pleasures. It's not like you get hot wet towels anymore, or even free booze. In many cases, you don't even get screens in your seat back anymore, and when you do, you tend to have to swipe your card to watch the same crap you can watch on cable at home for free.

So, one of the only remaining forms of free entertainment on planes has been the inexplicably weird and random SkyMall. A magazine so filled with crap gadgets, with unbelievably useless-looking tech and creepy yeti garden statues, that it made time simply, er, fly.

But, alas, it is to be no more. SkyMall has stalled, nosedived, and crashed into bankruptcy.


Apparently the "increasingly competitive, constantly changing retail environment" has elbowed it out of business.

It would seem that not as many people as you thought need a cat toilet, eyelid massager, or an MP3 player the size of a small generator which only plays bible verses. How odd.

Yet, there was always something about SkyMall that made one inexplicably WANT a sci-fi-looking machine that makes you grow hair. Or a rearview bike camera. Or a motorized unicycle (hey, don't knock it, they have those at CES, too!).

It was, in fact, one of the bastions of weird engineering. Where anything you could think of and get cheaply manufactured, could be seen by millions and possibly sold, no matter how scary looking the design!


Countless times I actually found myself thinking "Oh, that actually looks quite cool ..." but clearly, not cool enough for me to actually cough up $68.99 plus postage and packaging.

For a magazine so filled with useless tech, it was sadly ironic that it was tech itself that killed it. "With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog," said CEO Scott Wiley in court filings.

Indeed, after regulations prohibiting the use of phones and tablets during takeoff and landing was lifted, people just didn't have 10 minutes of boredom to kill perusing the mag's pages.

So, goodbye, SkyMall, you crazy, weird, useless but entertaining thing, you! And here's to the new age of in-flight shopping, where finds some way to do drone-to-airplane direct delivery.

Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast's most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 10-12, 2015. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

A regular speaker on the tech conference circuit and a Senior Director at FTI Consulting, Sylvie is an authority on the electronics space, social media in a b2b context, digital content creation and distribution. She has a passion for gadgets, electronics, and science fiction.

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