American Airlines’ Impressive Wifi Milestone

American Airlines’ Impressive Wifi Milestone

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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.

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (19)
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  1. Bobo Member

    As a T-Mobile customer, I didn't love the Gogo service quality, but I loved that it was FREE for us. I hate turning on wifi now and seeing "aainflight." Congrats AA on the downgrAAde.

  2. Mike Whyatt Guest

    Gogo: Trash
    ViaSat: I'm ecstatic
    Panasonic: Good luck even trying to check out.

  3. Ethan G Member

    "However, one area where American has done really well is with inflight wifi."

    Normally, Ben, I'm with you...but this is one topic on which we couldn't disagree further. I commute bi-weekly to Dallas (from Philadelphia) with a colleague. I fly Delta (mostly via DTW), she flies American (direct). I have never once, in months of commuting, been left without wifi on a single flight. I've had consistently reliable, high-speed wifi.

    Meanwhile, from her reports,...

    "However, one area where American has done really well is with inflight wifi."

    Normally, Ben, I'm with you...but this is one topic on which we couldn't disagree further. I commute bi-weekly to Dallas (from Philadelphia) with a colleague. I fly Delta (mostly via DTW), she flies American (direct). I have never once, in months of commuting, been left without wifi on a single flight. I've had consistently reliable, high-speed wifi.

    Meanwhile, from her reports, wifi is hit or miss on AA (and much more miss than hit, seemingly). Wifi not working on her flights is the norm, not the exception. In probably 20 flights so far this year, I'd guess a dozen of her flights have left her unwilling to connect.

    Perhaps this is just an unfortunate data point in part of a much larger picture, but sadly, that's what we as consumers base our purchase decisions on all too often.

  4. German Expat Member

    At least you can now easier send a message telling you are late again :-).

  5. Alex Member

    The Gogo WiFi with free WiFi for t-mobile customers is really great. Decently fast, and it was a godsend two months ago when I had this really fun week with two flights a day for six days straight. I flew a mixture of American and Delta, but both use Gogo so I had free WiFi on every flight (even CRJs) except for one 757 which had Panasonic WiFi installed as far as I remember. (Unrelated,...

    The Gogo WiFi with free WiFi for t-mobile customers is really great. Decently fast, and it was a godsend two months ago when I had this really fun week with two flights a day for six days straight. I flew a mixture of American and Delta, but both use Gogo so I had free WiFi on every flight (even CRJs) except for one 757 which had Panasonic WiFi installed as far as I remember. (Unrelated, but miraculously not a single one of my American flights was delayed in the whole week of flying...) On short flights the free WiFi does compensate for no IFE. On longer flights, especially if Panasonic WiFi is used...not so much.

  6. Sassy Guest

    The real issue with ViaSat Ka on widebody planes is that they don't have any coverage outside the western hemisphere until the ViaSat 3 constellation goes up in the mid 2020s at earliest.

    Panasonic is pretty shitty, but at least it will work in most of the places the planes fly.

  7. C Guest

    What’a the point of “stream your own entertainment” if there are no outlets?

    And Panasonic is code for no Wi-Fi.

  8. Randy Gold

    I prefer to use my own tablet to watch movies. The seatback holder is very nice.

    Plus wider selection over the AA Wifi network. Plus , using your tablet you can use your wireless headset. No need to get out the optional cable.

  9. Austin787 Guest

    "My one wish is that American had gone with a higher speed wifi option on their wide body aircraft. "
    Ugrading wifi speed on wide body aircraft most likely means they pull the PTVs from those planes, since higher speeds will allow for better streaming.

  10. Yehuda Kovesh New Member

    I just arrived at CLT from BCN on A330.
    The WiFi was good throughout the flight

  11. RDP Member

    Wow they're at where Delta was 5 years ago...

  12. Bruce Bender Guest

    I have a monthly GoGo account with AA. It is accepted I believe when ViaSat is the service, but not Panasonic (or I have that flipped). So, sadly, I was on a 4+ hour wide-body flight from CLT to PHX 3 months ago (I believe the plane was going on to HI?) and AA did not set up any ability for the user to apply their GoGo account (to I believe Panasonic). So, I had...

    I have a monthly GoGo account with AA. It is accepted I believe when ViaSat is the service, but not Panasonic (or I have that flipped). So, sadly, I was on a 4+ hour wide-body flight from CLT to PHX 3 months ago (I believe the plane was going on to HI?) and AA did not set up any ability for the user to apply their GoGo account (to I believe Panasonic). So, I had to pay for wifi.

    So, while you say its great AA has so much wifi, I don't think it is great that they are not all set up for one subscription...and I essentially have to double pay.

  13. George Member

    American has also updates their lounges, as well as their seats, right?

  14. Econometrics New Member

    Panasonic on AA's INTL fleet is nowhere close to "decent", Lucky. Have you been on an AA INTL flight lately? About the only thing you can do on the INTL wifi is send WhatsApp and iMessages. Terrible.

  15. Fat Ted Guest

    I'd have to say the live TV option with these planes is pretty good too. I'll give them credit for that.

  16. Alex Guest

    The widebodies are getting new wifi too so it will be a lot better once that's done

  17. Frank Member

    Well how about now pricing the wifi accordingly?

  18. Brad Guest

    No love on American Eagle.

  19. aj New Member

    does anyone else find it kinda funny that the AA 767 winglets still have the old AA Eagle on them

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Bobo Member

As a T-Mobile customer, I didn't love the Gogo service quality, but I loved that it was FREE for us. I hate turning on wifi now and seeing "aainflight." Congrats AA on the downgrAAde.

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Mike Whyatt Guest

Gogo: Trash ViaSat: I'm ecstatic Panasonic: Good luck even trying to check out.

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Ethan G Member

"However, one area where American has done really well is with inflight wifi." Normally, Ben, I'm with you...but this is one topic on which we couldn't disagree further. I commute bi-weekly to Dallas (from Philadelphia) with a colleague. I fly Delta (mostly via DTW), she flies American (direct). I have never once, in months of commuting, been left without wifi on a single flight. I've had consistently reliable, high-speed wifi. Meanwhile, from her reports, wifi is hit or miss on AA (and much more miss than hit, seemingly). Wifi not working on her flights is the norm, not the exception. In probably 20 flights so far this year, I'd guess a dozen of her flights have left her unwilling to connect. Perhaps this is just an unfortunate data point in part of a much larger picture, but sadly, that's what we as consumers base our purchase decisions on all too often.

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