In-flight magazines are one of the most underrated publication sectors in the industry. While most people cast them as inane, repetitive drivel, some in-flights do great work and surprise passengers who give them a chance. If you’re looking for a new place to focus your budding writing career, in-flights might be a good option.
Why They’re Good
Lots of publications these days are rapidly shrinking. Their budgets and ability to produce longer, more complex stories are dwindling. However, many in-flight magazines, even those ones that are run by third-party publishers, have more options for flying writers where they need to go. So, if it’s travel you’re after with your writing, in-flights may be your best option.
Major airlines have hundreds of flights a day, transporting thousands of passengers back and forth across the country and around the globe. What’s more, the vast majority of those magazines are monthly, so the numbers really start to add up. While a regional monthly magazine in a large city might have a circulation of 70K or 80K, major in-flights will often be triple that. In the end, that means more eyes on your story.
In addition to having massive circulation, airline magazines also have a very diverse audience, from the high power executives in first class to the screaming kids in coach. Even better, whether it seems like a good thing or not, that audience is more or less trapped with the magazine as one of only a few possible sources of entertainment. I’ve read dozens of stories on airplanes that I never would have given a second glance, because I had nothing else to do.
How to Do It
Know the audience
Contrary to popular belief, not all in-flight magazines contain straight travel stories. Some cover politics, economics and other more serious topics. Do your research before pitching and be clear about the stories your target in-flight covers.
Know their routes
Knowing where an airline flies can help you hone your pitches. For example, you wouldn’t want to pitch Southwest Airlines a story about a beer festival in Germany, but you might want to toss them a story idea about vegan cowboys in El Paso. Check out the route maps available on most airline websites for a quick point of reference on where they fly and thus, what stories might interest them.
Track their news
Airlines are constantly adding new routes to their network and, when they do, it’s a hot time to pitch. When a new route is announced, that airline will want to promote flights there as much as possible, which means adding colorful stories to their in-flights that will promote the new destination. Schedule Google Alerts to track the airlines that interest you. When a new route is announced, start working on a pitch for that destination.
By Patrick Hutchison