This hot new literary journal is only available in United's first class cabin

United Airlines is publishing a high-end literary magazine
(Image credit: Twitter/@inkglobal)

SkyMall may have had a near-death experience, but in-flight magazines are having something of a moment — and one, Rhapsody, is really turning heads. If you haven't heard of Rhapsody, it's probably because you don't fly first class or business class on United Airlines — but you've probably heard of some of the authors publishing original work in the magazine: Joyce Carol Oates, Anthony Doerr, Amy Bloom, Karen Russell, Rick Moody, Emma Straub, and about 25 other well-regarded literary fiction writers.

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The New York Times noticed, and they profiled Rhapsody on Sunday, putting the newest A-list literary journal in context:

As airlines try to distinguish their high-end service with luxuries like private sleeping chambers, showers, butler service, and meals from five-star chefs, United Airlines is offering a loftier, more cerebral amenity to its first-class and business-class passengers: elegant prose by prominent novelists. There are no airport maps or disheartening lists of in-flight meal and entertainment options in Rhapsody. Instead, the magazine has published ruminative first-person travel accounts, cultural dispatches and probing essays about flight. [New York Times]

To hit the point home, The Times quotes United's Mark Krolick on what the airline gets out of hiring A-list writers: “The high-end leisure or business-class traveler has higher expectations, even in the entertainment we provide.” As for what the writers get out of it, it's a combination of a solid paycheck, free luxury travel, relatively free rein on what to write (no air disasters), and access to a well-heeled captive audience who might like to buy their books.

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And while at least one writer laments to The Times that she wishes the magazine had a broader circulation than just wealthy fliers, it seems you can peruse Rhapsody's back issues online, for free. You're welcome, English majors.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.