American Airlines Adds Streaming Live TV On Domestic Flights

Filed Under: American

American Airlines has announced today that they’ve activated free live TV on their first 100 narrowbody aircraft, and they plan to extend live TV to their entire narrowbody fleet of over 700 aircraft by the end of 2019.

American already offers live TV on select international widebody aircraft, so it’s great to see them expand this to domestic narrowbody aircraft as well.

Live TV channels powered by DISH include Bravo, CBS, CNBC, CNN, Disney Channel, ESPN, FOX, NBC, NFL Network, Telemundo, TNT, and USA.

The catch is that much of American’s domestic fleet doesn’t have seatback televisions, and unlike the competition, American isn’t installing TVs on their newly delivered aircraft (the 737 MAX, which will become the backbone of their domestic fleet).

So this live TV will instead stream to customers’ personal devices, including laptops, phones, and tablets. The live TV will be available gate to gate, and complements their selection of hundreds of on-demand movies and TV shows.

I can’t help but laugh at this quote in the press release:

“Our customers have told us they want a living room experience in the air – the ability to watch free entertainment, stream their favorite shows on-demand, charge their phones and stay connected from start to finish during their travels. Free live TV on our mainline domestic fleet is the latest step in making that a reality, and it complements the live TV we offer on all of our international widebody flights today.”

LOL! Customers want a “living room experience in the air,” and American’s takeaway there is that this translates to live TV streaming to devices? How about decent legroom or an actual television, because last time I checked, that’s something most people have in their living rooms. 😉

Bottom line

For better or worse, the future of entertainment on American Airlines will be streaming entertainment to passengers’ own devices. American is shying away from installing seatback entertainment since it’s costly to install, adds to the weight of the aircraft, and has the potential to malfunction.

Personally I don’t care about entertainment one way or another as long as I have wifi onboard, though I know others feel differently.

Do you use streaming entertainment on flights? If so, do you prefer live TV, or on-demand movies and TV shows?

  1. I like this a lot. I love IFE screens and pick planes like the 32B where I know I get an ife screen. That said the streaming on your own devices on AA works well still not as good or as many choices as an IFE screen but it works so I’m glad to see they will have quite a few channels as well now. Big improvement. Can’t see how anyone can complain about this when they just added something they didn’t have and aren’t charging for it. But I’m sure the comment section will find something to hate about an airline making an improvement.

  2. I like it. I prefer live TV to on demand movies and TV shows. However I use WiFi on most flights. I just wish AA would retire their ancient LUS 321s which have no power outlets – I routinely take Transcons on these klunkers.

  3. I wish they would build in a phone/tablet holder to the seatback so you could easily prop up your own device. It can be tiresome to hold it up

  4. Considering they haven’t upgraded the WiFi bandwidth it will be interesting to see how this actually plays out.

  5. “How about decent legroom or an actual television, because last time I checked, that’s something most people have in their living rooms”

    What do you mean checked. In the past few years the only living room you paid for was the Etihad Residence (and don’t tell me your comparing that to a regular house 😉

  6. If they’re cutting out the tv experience the programming needs to be better than delta/United to compete for customers not trapped in AA hubs.

    This sounds like a start.

  7. Maybe install power first? Nothing like flying a legacy US Airways A321 out of PHX and not even having power ports, even in F.

  8. Totally unrelated but LOT airlines just announced nonstop service from Warsaw to Miami on a Dreamliner. According to the press release it’s the first nonstop between Florida and Eastern Europe.

  9. I would much rather stream live tv on my iPad than a seat back. Not only is the size bigger but the quality is much better.

  10. This is fantastic news and really will add to my living room experience! I was already feeling at home on the planes since the new, smaller, lav reminds me of my tight and pee-splattered half bath at home. Kudos to AA for leading the pack in the living room arena!

  11. Wait a second. This live streaming TV will be for FREE…? But for how long? I am sure the free trial period will end soon. Then, AA will be just like UA, who charges for this. I for one NEVER pay for this and never will. I want my seatback tv monitor with free movies.

  12. Streaming TV? I’m less excited about this than the pack of peanuts. which itself is more exciting than watching those miserable NBC highlight reels. I don’t want to watch mid-day TV and flip through a bunch of advertising for garden implements. Can’t I just have a decent movie selection?

  13. As a big sports fan who often travels on Sundays, I love it. I am also a big news junkie, so having CNN on hand also enhances the experience. I’ll definitely watch live TV over any prerecorded programming.
    Others can poo-poo it, but live TV add so much more than on-demand movies (they have the same movies, so I’ve seen them all in the air by mid-year).

  14. If you know your tail number (FlightAware or FlightRadar24) you can look up whether it’s bring your own device (“BYOD”) or audIo-video on-demand (“AVOD”) capability onboard from this Av-Geek AA fleet site. More than just video. Will not matter much later when common fleet (e.g., removed all) but for now it’s helpful to know before you go.

  15. Total dud here. Nothing to see — literally. The system rarely works and when it does works just inside the continental US when well above 10,000 feet. Complete failure and quite frankly an embarrassment.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *