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BlackAtlas.com gets grounded by American Airlines in transformation plans

(April 29, 2013) After three and a half years as one of the most popular travel Web sites among African-Americans, BlackAtlas.com has been shut down by American Airlines.

Visitors to BlackAtlas now receive a message that says "We've got a new flight Path." The whole announcement reads: "You may have heard about the big changes taking place at American Airlines. Now, in an effort to bring you the latest news and information about this transformation, we invite you to explore our journey as we bring you a more modern, comfortable and connected travel experience. BlackAtlas.com will become a part of the larger American Airlines travel community, and we hope you continue to visit. Please update your bookmarks to aa.com. We'll catch you in the air."

When BlackAtlas was launched in 2009, it was a pioneering effort created by the airline in partnership with Burrell Communications. At the time it debuted, American Airlines said in a statement the site "combines the best features of a travel site with the power of social networking to create a dynamic online community for travelers to share experiences unique to the black community."

Among the successes that BlackAtlas achieved was a 2010 Mosaic Award from the American Advertising Federation.

The closing of BlackAtlas comes, ironically, at a time when a number of major advertisers are pursuing efforts to capture more Black consumers through social media platforms. According to the latest edition of The Buying Power of Black America, Black households spent $2.25 billion in 2011 on airline tickets. That was an increase of 10% over the previous year.

While the site may be gone, a Facebook page, "Black Atlas Editor" is still operating, and a recent visitor posted this message: "We are sad to see that BlackAtlas.com is now gone."

Efforts to reach American Airlines for comment before deadline were unsuccessful.


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