Bright Stove

Reflecting information risk journey

Less is more

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If you travel a lot like me, you will probably be one of the readers of inflight magazines, which are the most freely available magazines you can get hold of in any flights, regardless of which class of travel you are in. It is the same magazine from Suite, First, Business, to Coach (or Economy). Nothing else is more equal in the air plane than the inflight magazine available.
An interesting thing about inflight magazines is that they are all different for every airline, since that’s the publication that the airlines use as one of the means to highlight their specialities, what do they represent, which country, state, or city they come from, and what they strive to do for the passengers. So you get to read about places of interests, beautiful cities, and at times, interesting articles about those places, histories, people, etc. Accompanying the inflight magazines are often another magazine, which is the inflight sales catalogue. Again, it differs from airline to airline. I like those from the Japanese airlines such as ANA and Japan Airline, as well as the US airlines, like UA, which are very comprehensive catalogues. I’ve never ordered anything from the Japanese or US airlines’ inflight catalogue before though, but like browsing through when I am onboard. Those catalogues give me a sense of their lifestyles and culture, the unique things they use in their countries, such as the furnitures, gardenware, gadgets, etc., that you don’t find normally in shopping malls, or other off-flight catalogues. The items listed seem endless as well. They are therefore a good means for passing time, like when waiting for the flight to take off, or during landing, when all electronic equipment has to be turned off. One thing about the design and physical aspects of those US and Japanese’s magazines is that no matter how many items in them, they don’t seems to be bulky or heavy at all. The papers are thin, and flip through easily. The layout, color, etc., seems to be well coordinated as well, which therefore make for easy reading. I just realized that there’s something different in these characteristics on the Air China airline yesterday when I flew back to Beijing from Hongkong. There’s a difference not just in terms of their services, but also such things as their inflight magazines and catalogues, as compared with many other international airlines.
As I didn’t bring along any physical book this round (I was carrying an Amazon Kindle), I don’t have anything else to read after browsing the newspaper before the take off, and also during landing. So I looked for the inflight magazines and sales catalogue. I saw two magazines in the seat pocket, but no sales catalogue. The look at the thickness of the two put me off a little, but I proceeded to try to take one out, the thicker one, and it was so heavy, like nearly 1 kg (maybe slightly less), I placed it back, and took out the newspaper instead. During landing, I thought, why does the airline allow for such thick and heavy magazine in-flight? Let’s say each copy is 500g, with say 300 seats, they weigh 150 kg in total. That’s a lot of additional but useless weight on the plane. Given the weight (and thickness), most passengers would be put off by it and not reading or browsing it. So all the efforts of putting up that magazine are down to waste! That’s a big waste of resources, and also energy, paper, etc., on flight.
I took a closer look at the made up of the magazines. They contained at least 70% of advertisements, in more than 260 pages, in very colorful and grossy papers–hence the weight. With the energy crisis going on today, and also the Green movement, perhaps it is time for Air China, and many other airlines to re-examine such simple things that they are carrying around, up and down the plane, across cities and countries everyday. Do they really need to carry two magazines (one Air China’s brand, and another CAAS branded magazine in this case), totalled at nearly 500 pages, and more than 1 kg in each seat pocket? Perhaps the monetary gains they received from those advertisements in the magazines outweight the cost of carrying them around even without passengers reading them. Advertisers should perhaps also consider whether it makes sense for them to advertise in such heavy and bulky chunk which immediately put off the passengers. It may probably make more sense, for the sake of Green, and energy savings, and at the same time enhance readership for the efforts put into this stuff, by establishing some boundaries such as paper quality, number of pages, efficient use of space in each page, etc. henceforth. Perhaps the idea of less is more often takes more for it to be realized.

Written by mengchow

August 16, 2008 at 6:05 am

Posted in Travel

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