Could Scrapping In Flight Magazines Cut Aviation Emissions?

Now, more than ever, we are seeing the aviation industry place a particular focus on its carbon footprint. In fact, it is responsible for around 2% of global emissions. While airlines are trying to cut their CO2 emissions, Simple Flying explores a simple idea that could be an easy win.

In flight magazines, Airline Emissions, Weight Saving
Dropping all in-flight magazines could cause a noticeable drop in emissions over the course of a year. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

When was the last time you picked up an inflight magazine? With the exception of the special edition of High Life celebrating British Airways’ Centenary, I only ever look at the practical part of inflight magazines. That is to say, the bit at the back with the maps. However, could removing in-flight magazines from planes really help cut emissions? Simple Flying analyzes the situation.

A worked example

Let’s start off with a worked example to help illustrate the point. Simple Flying weighed British Airways’ most recent edition of the High Life magazine. It came in at 307 grams, however, we’ll call it 300g for simplicity.

British Airways has 331 seats on its new Airbus A350 aircraft. With each seat having a High Life magazine, there are around 100kg of magazines onboard each aircraft. Now, as this only weighs slightly more than the average human, it may not make a huge difference if magazines were removed from one flight.

In flight magazines, Airline Emissions, Weight Saving
We weighed BA’s High Life magazine as 307 grams. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

However, if an aircraft was operated twice a day for 365 days that, would equate to a saving of around 72,500kg across a year. If you were to remove inflight magazines across the aviation industry, there would be potential to see a huge fall in emissions due to the decrease in weight.

The pros

The pros of removing in-flight magazines seem fairly simple. Firstly, as per the worked example, there is the potential to significantly cut emissions. However, if in-flight magazines were not being produced, less paper would be needed for production.

Instead of printing the magazine, it could be offered digitally as some airlines already do. This would significantly save on the printing and logistical costs of putting one magazine at every seat, as these costs wouldn’t exist. With more people traveling with personal devices, and more aircraft with WiFi, is the magazine even read any more?

The cons

While not necessarily outweighing the pros, there do appear to be some cons. Firstly, people do still read the magazines provided onboard aircraft. Simple Flying recently polled 295 Twitter users for their thoughts. 57% of respondents said that they read magazines, while a further 22% said that they look at the airline information in the back. The remaining 21% do not read the magazines at all.

However, in-flight magazines are also used as a marketing tool for airlines. When every seat has a magazine, the airline is able to target the passenger with exactly what they want them to read.


In the grand scheme of things, removing magazines from flights would have fairly little effect on a single flight. However, across a year’s worth of flights, the difference could be noticed

Personally, I would be happy to see the scrapping of in-flight magazines in favor of digitally distributed counterparts. In a day and age where every little helps to get emissions down, it certainly would be worth at least considering in my opinion.

What do you think? Should in-flight magazines be scrapped from flights? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.