Socially Sorting Passengers

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As the airplane levels off at it’s optimal cruising altitude of 38,000 feet, you pull out the in-flight magazine, whose cover is filled with images of fame and happiness, from the seat-back pocket. Through all airlines providing the same service (flights), branding is the key to achieving a competitive advantage. The airline in-flight magazine becomes an important product through which airlines can promote their brand, sell products and build relationships with their customers. The magazine offers advertisers a highly desirable and captive audience given that on-board matters and airport transfer information requires reference to the magazine. The reach of these magazines is broad. For example, Qantas Air carries more than 12 million passengers annually, and each month 65,000 magazines are printed (Geels). In-flight magazines, however ideologically innocent they may appear, can be very powerful in representing the norms and values to which travelers should adhere. Advertisements mirror society and the people they advertise to, therefore, they convey meanings and messages about what is socially acceptable and normal. Flying, although less expensive now than in the past, is reserved for the better off in society; those who have the freedom and means to travel by plane. Airline magazine advertisements are subtle ways of socially sorting passengers into those who are socially and culturally acceptable airline travelers and those who are not. As you begin to get bored or seek to learn more about the Airbus A380 you’re flying in, you flip open the magazine to the first page. Staring at you is an advertisement for Mont Blanc with Nicolas Cage. This advertisement was in the August addition of Qantas’ 2012 international magazine. At fir... ... middle of paper ... ...res. Advertisements speak to those who enjoy life as leisured, who are rich in time and money to pursue activities like buying ridiculously expensive watches and chartering jets to fly more exclusively. Advertisements promote Western ideals of belonging and acceptability in which they socially sort those who fly from those who don’t fly. A consumer’s identity is constructed by inflight magazines as an airline traveler of privilege and economic freedom. Works Cited Thurlow, C. and Jaworski, A. (2003), Communicating a Global Reach: In-Flight Magazines as a Globalizing Genre in Tourism. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 7: 579-606. doi: 10.1111/j. 1467- 9841.2003.00243.x "Diners Club." Qantas: Australian Way 2012: n. pag. Print. Geels, Aurelie Clement. "In-Flight Magazines." N.p., 2009. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. .

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