Up Front With Martin B. Deutsch



September 1, 1988 -- The above is an old adage in magazine publishing, which I actually made up. But that couplet could apply to a lot of things in life, and I may submit it for a trademark or copyright consideration, or whatever it is you do to protect an adage. (Just think what the guy who came up with "A fool and his luggage are soon parted" is making in residuals.)

Frequent Flyer is eight years young with this issue, and the editors decided that, like every eight-year-old, it deserved a few nice gifts—like a face-lift and a pocketful of new features. So we’re introducing some key changes in format, content, and appearance.

Take this column (please!). It’s different, but you may have trouble putting your finger on why at first. We’ve gone from a narrow two-column format with lots of white space (very modern) to a more traditional three-column layout. We feel it’s easier on the reader’s eye. It’s true, Frequent Flyer isn’t on the cutting edge of design–we leave all those painful cutting edges (ouch!) to the Museum of Modern Art, just a few blocks away from our New York offices.

What we do like to be on the cutting edge of is needs of our readers. Hence, the new layout.

Take, for example, the magazine’s best-read feature: the Frequent Flyer Forum. These popular, provocative letters from our feisty readers have always appeared in the back of the magazine. "Well, why?" asked somebody the other day in one of our frequent staff meetings. Why, indeed. They’re from you, our readers, and frankly that’s what we’re all about–you, the frequent flyers.

So starting with this issue, Forum has been moved to the front of the book, directly following Up Front. It’s our way of acknowledging the prominent role that you readers play in this magazine’s evolution. The clarity and intelligence of some of our readers’ letters keep the editing staff on its toes, to say the least.

Something we’re particularly proud of this month is the debut of the On the Move column, which will appear on the last page of the magazine. This new monthly feature will provide interviews with people whose careers demand their being frequent flyers. Some of them are CEOs, others are simply well-known–but all of them have many of the same problems that you do: jet lag, airplane food, delayed luggage, missed connections. How do they cope? If you don’t get some tips from them, at least you’ll get some consolation because they’re suffering the same woes you are.

Our kickoff interview is with Bob Greene, the Chicago Tribune columnist and ABC news correspondent. Incidentally, he also reads Frequent Flyer. Michel Korda, editor-in0chief of Simon & Schuster, is next month’s On the Move guest.

Frequent Flyers tend to be frantic trackers—keeping up with everything from bonus program miles and flight schedules to claim checks and business expenses. But staying abreast of all the latest air-travel changes can sometimes be as tough as staying abreast of the IRS. Which is why we decided to move the City Reports. All of the magazine’s information pages—International Itinerary, Executive Travel File, Check-In (now a full page), In Store, the sports calendar, weather forecast, as well as City Reports—can now be found back-to-back in the latter half of the magazine. The editors have long viewed the department pages as a kind-of-a-magazine, and, starting with this issue, have positioned them as such.

Now readers can simply flip to the "blue" section to find the nuts and bolts of business travel—news on the airlines, major airports, hotels, rental cars, business services, etc.—all conveniently grouped together.

Incidentally, the weather column (thanks to Stouffer Hotels and the Weather Channel) have been enlarged to include a map with regional weather trends, which should be useful in making travel plans, whether for business or using up those hard-earned bonus miles. There’s even a section on weather trivia. (I know, I know, I can hear the groans. But it’s more interesting than it sounds at first. September’s issue, for instance, has a map entitled "The Height of the Hurricane Season," showing the paths of memorable hurricanes from Septembers past.)

Finally, let’s talk for a moment about service–reader service. For eight years, the magazine has offered readers the opportunity to write in for information on products and services advertised in the magazine by filling out a "reader service card," inserted next to the Reader Service page. The procedure is hardly difficult, but this beginning this month it’s going to be even easier: we’ve added a service–free postage.

All in all, we think Frequent Flyer will be better-looking, easier to read, easier to use. But don’t take my word for it: take a look. And let us know.

Thanks for flying with us.

This column originally appeared in Frequent Flyer magazine.

Copyright © 1991-2007 by Martin B. Deutsch. All rights reserved.