Oh No! Is SkyMall Dead?

The future looks grim for everyone’s favorite in-flight shopping catalog.

Giant life-sized chess sets. Bald-eagle lawn ornaments. High-waisted control briefs for men. Myriad travel pillows that look like medieval torture devices.

Have you ever bought one of these on a plane? Probably not. And that’s the reason SkyMall, the famously absurd in-flight shopping catalog, is going the way of the dodo bird and adequate legroom.

News broke today that SkyMall’s parent company, Xhibit Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection because sales have slipped irrevocably.

In the bankruptcy declaration, SkyMall CFO Scott Wiley cited your newfangled iPads and Kindles as the reasons SkyMall profits are so low: “With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog,” he says. Indeed, the catalog raked in well over $30 million in sales in 2012, but in 2014, the company only generated about $15.8 million, according to a USA Today report.

SkyMall’s future has long been up in the air (pun totally intended). Recently industry analysts exhorted the company to modernize its operations. The analog catalog model, after all, has been dying for some time, and as more and more flyers skipped the in-flight magazines in favor of their own devices, it seemed likely to most that SkyMall would suffer the same fate as the Montgomery Ward man. That fate, it seems, has come to pass.

For now, Xhibit Corp. will run a scaled-down SkyMall operation, but a new buyer may opt to shutter the catalog for good. It’s not clear if SkyMall magazines will be immediately pulled from aircraft, but it is likely that your next flight may be catalog-free. So much for those high-waisted men’s control briefs.

Readers, have you ever bought anything from the SkyMall catalog? Will you miss it when it’s gone?

(Photo: brownpau via Flickr/CC Attribution)

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By Dara Continenza

Dara Continenza has been exploring the world and writing about it since 2010. Her writing has appeared on Hopper, SmarterTravel, USA Today, Money, U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo, Business Insider, TripAdvisor, Huffington Post, Boston.com, and others.

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