Because the airlines outsource their inflight customer magazines to custom publisher, the route taken to publishing these magazines for tablets is dependent on the commitment of the vendor to the platform. While the airlines certainly see the advantages the mobile and tablet platforms can bring to the travel category, publisher's enthusiasm for the new digital platforms vary.
Today a new tablet edition, British Airways High Life, launched into Apple's Newsstand. British Airways works with Cedar on a range of magazines for including the employee magazine, the onboard shopping magazine, as well as the customer magazine High Life.
The approach taken by the new BA tablet edition is the polar opposite of that taken by Lufthansa Magazine, a tablet edition that was released a while ago, but was just updated by the developer.
The customer magazine is published by Gruner + Jahr and the app was developed by AppVantage, a Hamburg based developer. The new update moves the magazine into Apple's Newsstand and adds brief previews of each issue available.
Most importantly, the app for Lufthansa appears under the airline's own name, not the name of the publisher or app developer, something I would think most marketers would insist on. But strangely, many airlines allow the onboard magazines to appear in iTunes under the name of the developer. United Airlines Hemispheres Magazine, for instance, appears in the App Store under the name of the publisher, Ink.
In February of this year, Air France launched a very nice tablet edition for its inflight magazine, which the airline works with Gallimard on producing.
One would think most airlines would be eager to see their inflight magazine available in the App Store as it extends the audience far beyond simply those onboard their airlines. But quite a number of inflight magazines remain missing from the Newsstand including American Way from American Airlines and Spirit from Southwest Airlines which is published by Pace