Shop the friendly skies? The airlines are hoping you'll buy while in the sky


Along with sandwiches and soda, you may one day be able to buy tickets to Lion King and Animal Kingdom while cruising 35,000 feet above ground. A New York Times story reported that the airline industry is tinkering with the idea of expanding retail offerings to boost revenue.

Leading the brigade is American Airlines, which sells Heathrow Express train tickets on its flights to London and allows passengers in-flight Internet access and a chance at splurging on products from the SkyMall -- the glossy brochure that sells everything from cabin bags to fancy pens and perfumes.

Many airlines around the world already sell a limited collection of products on board from SkyMall. The only glitch has been in the technology that would allow a purchase in real time. In the past, passengers had to wait until they reached their destination to place an order, but Canadian company GuestLogix solved that problem by coming up with a technology that allows on air sales with the help of a credit card reader and sales software.

Personally, I do like having that option of buying an extreme last minute gift for a forgotten relative while en route to that big family gathering in India. Apart from saving face, it also would help me kill some time on that 15-hour flight. But, would passengers who like catching up on precious sleep cringe at the option? Trying to fall asleep with flight attendants sashaying the aisles carrying products and swiping credit cards definitely won't be easy.