As you may have heard by now, SkyMall LLC filed for bankruptcy this week. So, for that matter, is its parent company, Xhibit Corp., which acquired SkyMall in 2013. While this doesn't necessarily mean that SkyMall will henceforth be banished from all airplanes all over the world until the end of time... it does mean that we might have to get used to flying without its familiar presence in our seat back pockets for a while. I'm sure a lot of people will hear the news, shrug, and say, "Eh, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner" before forgetting about it entirely — but you guys? I'm actually kind of sad about it. No, I never actually purchased anything from it (and therefore probably had an active hand in its demise); but it's been such a staple of my flying experience for so long that imagining traveling without it is almost unthinkable. And yet... here we are.
SkyMall, you see, was much more than a catalog. In many ways, it was the best part of flying. How else can you have the altogether unique experience of soaring thousands of miles above the ground, sipping a flat and overly-icy Diet Coke, and thinking, "Gee, you know what my life has been missing? A suit of armor sitting in my front hallway"? I realize that the costs of producing the magazine in and of itself, let alone actually stocking the products, are far too high to warrant keeping it going purely for in-flight entertainment purposes. But, by gosh, that's still not going to stop me from penning a love letter to this strange, baffling, and yet still beloved feature of the air travel experience.
So: Here are 15 reasons I think it should stick around. Don't worry, SkyMall — I'll wait for you to make your triumphant return. Take all the time you need.
1. It's free.
Or at least, browsing it is. We get charged for almost everything else on airplanes these days (is anyone else kind of worried that eventually the airline bathroom situation will end up looking kind of like Urinetown ?), so please. Just let us have this one, free thing.
2. It's ridiculous.
As Cosmo noted, where else can you get a vacuum specifically for sucking up any unfortunate bugs who find their way onto your walls?
3. It's always there for you.
Or at least, it used to be. Sniff.
4. It's a terrific distraction for people who hate flying.
If you're one of those people whose stomach drops every time the aircraft hits a bit of turbulence, nothing is more soothing than looking at images of home bar setups hidden inside antique-looking globes and litter boxes disguised to resemble coffee tables. Or at least, if not soothing, then mildly distracting. It's hard not to laugh while leafing through the well-worn pages of a SkyMall catalog that has clearly seen better days.
5. It's usually better than the in-flight movie.
If you're even lucky enough to have an in-flight movie. I'll take SkyMall over Jack and Jill any day.
6. It sets your imagination free.
I don't know about, but every time I read SkyMall, I start building an imaginary mansion in my head and filling it with the weirdest things I can think of. Sometimes those items are drawn directly from the pages of the catalog itself and sometimes they're totally wackadoodle creations I've dreamt up all on my own; but no matter where my interior design scheme originated, it's always a wonderful exercise in the joys of letting your imagination run wild.
7. It's the only way to cope with the fact that someone else already did the crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine.
In pen. How dare they.
8. If your plane lands on the Lost island, you can use all those spare catalogs for tinder.
No, not Tinder — tinder. As in, the stuff you start fires with. You're going to have to stay warm and cook somehow.
9. It has its own song.
If you've never listened to Jonathan Coulton before: You're welcome.
10. It's excellent in-flight reading material.
We all load our Kindles and Nooks and whatever with the best of intentions: I'll finally read Atlas Shrugged! I'll finally get through Ulysses! I'll finally crack open Bleak House!... but let's face it: By the time you finally get to the airport, make your way through security, have a coffee, wait for a while at the gate, have a smoothie, wait some more, board, sit on the tarmac for a while, and finally taxi and takeoff, the last thing you want to read is something that requires actual brainpower. It's a good thing there's a copy of SkyMall literally sitting right in front of you, isn't it?
11. It allows you to fulfill your lifelong dream of having a zombie burst up out of your lawn.
This is, without a doubt, my favorite thing that I have ever seen in SkyMall. Ever. I need it like it's my job.
12. It makes perfect origami paper.
If you get really bored, you can always start folding a thousand paper cranes out of the pages of your SkyMall catalog.
13. It's common ground.
When you're flying with people you don't know terribly well, everyone can always bond over the ridiculousness of SkyMall.
14. It's the perfect piece of camouflage.
On the other hand, if you have no desire to get to know the people sitting next to you, you can always burrow your nose in your SkyMall and spend the entire flight pretending to read it. Or you can use it as an eye mask and pretend to sleep through the whole thing. Your choice.
15. It's life-affirming.
No matter how bad you think your life choices have been, at least you didn't spend $22 on a "Will Bark for Bacon" T-shirt for your dog.