Save airline fuel, toss your magazine out

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Here's an interesting possibility for a trend, and an almost troubling one, I felt, until I learned what the replacement would be.

Emirates Airline, which is based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, is getting rid of its in-flight magazine. By doing that, each airplane will be approximately 2,000 pounds lighter, and that, of course, will save gas.

But while it sounds like another dagger in the heart of the passengers (if you consider all of the fees and indignities the air traveler has had to go through since 9/11 and the airline industry began caving under high gas prices), Emirates is replacing its magazine, Open Skies, with a digital version of Open Skies. Along with watching movies, people will be able to read their articles on the screen. As an occasional traveler, I'm relieved. As a magazine writer, I'm very, very relieved.

Not that I'm a regular or irregular flier of Emirates airline, nor have I ever had an article in Open Skies, but I have a feeling that this is the canary in the airline in-flight magazine industry coal mine.

After all, if Emirates saves money in paper and gas by taking their magazines digital, how long will it be before Delta, Continental and other airlines are doing the same?

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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