I hate air travel. I hate the airport smell. I hate security screening (it gives me this strange feeling that maybe I am hiding something and I just don’t know it yet). I hate buying overpriced water bottles. I hate the airplane smell. I hate sitting still for five hours. I hate the intensity of airplane toilet flushes (some part of me is always afraid of getting sucked in). And most airlines don’t even give free peanuts anymore.
The one thing that makes flying worth it for me (besides the whole transportation thing) is the SkyMall magazine tucked into the back of each seat. Pure entertainment. Besides having an assortment of overpriced yet mostly normal tech accessories, SkyMall educates you about the Yeti statues, lip plumpers, and ankle tanning kits you never knew you were missing.
Somehow, this is an effective business model. I suppose that flights are one of the few instances in which a catalog has a totally captive audience with nothing better to do than read it. Still, I doubt that this translates to people buying things very often. Maybe it’s just a numbers game. Or maybe the low oxygen levels at high altitudes impair judgement. Anyhow, SkyMall continues to exist.
The products are amusing, but the descriptions are sometimes even better. They could have come right out of the “persuasive devices” section of a sixth grade language arts text book. Or maybe the catalogs are just breeding grounds for rhetorical questions. It’s kind of refreshing. In a modern world of subtle product placement and ironically self-aware advertisement (smart/cool ads that parody their own status as advertisements, so you can’t really laugh at them, only with them) it’s nice to see some earnestly ploying ads, shamelessly aiming for your money with images of perfect people and sketchy testimonials without a layer of “meta” to protect them from judgement.
And on some level, it works. I think I’m way too smart to fall for these attempts to lower my self-esteem about my current set of possessions, but some part of me still gets a little sad that I don’t have a canine anxiety relieving sweater. And I don’t even own a dog.
Here are some highlights from SkyMall’s most recent issue. Enjoy.
- “Potty Train Your Cat Faster Than Most People Can Potty Train Their Kids”
- “Embarrassed when asking a stranger to take pictures? Too many faces to fit in? . . . Like to have a full scenic background?” . . . Well this 70 dollar pole is here to elevate the selfie to a whole new level. (While this validates all the articles about millennials, “selfie culture,” and narcism, throwing in a bit about the inability to interact face-to-face with others, I’ll admit that I’m a frequent large-group-selfie taker. Maybe I actually need this.)
- This booty lifter’s “special design and removable pads will maintain the beautiful shape of your rear, while enhancing it.” Did I miss the time when push-up underwear became a thing? Have I just been ignorant all these years?
- “Have you ever wanted to take the elliptical machine outdoors?” Well, I thought that elliptical machines were basically an indoor, stationary version of running, so no. But I guess ellipticals are lower impact/use different muscles, so it is understandable. What is really great is that they also offer an indoor stand that lets you use your traveling elliptical inside. So then you can have a stationary, indoor version of a moving, outdoor version of a stationary, indoor version of running.
- Food pillows-“We dreamed we ate an ice cream sandwich and when we woke up our pillow was gone…”
- Zombie statue-“finished so realistically that you’ll swear you can hear him groaning!”