There aren’t many areas in which I’d say American Airlines’ product is industry leading. However, one area where American has done really well is with inflight Wi-Fi. Recently American has reached a new milestone for which they deserve credit.
American now offers passengers high speed satellite Wi-Fi on more aircraft than any other airline. This comes as American has just completed the process of retrofitting their fleet with high-speed Wi-Fi, meaning that more than 700 aircraft now feature satellite Wi-Fi.
All American 737s now feature high speed Wi-Fi
American has three Wi-Fi providers — Gogo, ViaSat, and Panasonic. American’s narrow body fleet is split between Gogo 2Ku and ViaSat Ka, while American’s wide body fleet features Panasonic Wi-Fi. The Panasonic Wi-Fi on wide body planes isn’t exactly high speed, though the product on their narrow body planes is.
You can now expect that if you’re flying any plane in the A320 or 737 family you’ll have fast Wi-Fi.
However, not all planes have received high speed Wi-Fi. Specifically, select MD-80s, 757s, and Embraer 190s don’t feature high-speed Wi-Fi, as these planes will be retired in the coming months.
What’s especially impressive here is that American made the bulk of their progress within the past year. It’s only early last year that they started this project, so to install high speed Wi-Fi on so many planes so quickly is impressive.
Like I said, this is one of the few things that American Airlines does well. I personally have a preference for the ViaSat Wi-Fi, as I find it to be a bit faster, but both the Gogo 2Ku and ViaSat offerings are excellent. The benefit of the Gogo offering is that T-Mobile customers still get free Wi-Fi on their phone, while they don’t on their ViaSat planes.
Now if only American could operate flights on-time I’d be quite happy. 😉
Next up for American is installing power at every seat across their mainline fleet, as well as on their two-class regional jets. This is an area where they’re horribly lagging the competition.
American is also installing tablet holders on the majority of their narrow body aircraft. Since they’re not offering personal televisions, at least they’re giving you somewhere to put the entertainment you bring onboard. Yay?
American’s 767s feature Panasonic Wi-Fi
There are also now rumors that American will eventually introduce free Wi-Fi.
Wifi is an area where American does well well, and I’m impressed by the pace at which they’ve completed the process of installing high speed Wi-Fi. While there are many aspects of American’s product that leave a lot to be desired, the truth is that if I’m on an American plane with high speed Wi-Fi that’s on-time I’m happy enough.
My one wish is that American had gone with a higher speed Wi-Fi option on their wide body aircraft. While the Panasonic Wi-Fi is decent, it’s not as good as the Gogo 2Ku or ViaSat offering.
What has your experience been with Wi-Fi on American flights?