American Airlines’ Brilliant(ish) “Wifi Withdrawal” Ad

Filed Under: American, Videos

American Airlines isn’t exactly doing many big marketing pushes at the moment, since the company doesn’t seem to have a clear message. Rumor has it that American plans to reveal a new slogan soon, though we’ll see if that actually happens.

One area where I’ve given American Airlines a lot of credit is for the quality of their wifi. The airline has high speed wifi on virtually all of their domestic mainline aircraft, split between Gogo 2Ku and Viasat. Personally I prefer Viasat, as I find it to be faster and more reliable than Gogo.

American Airlines’ “wifi withdrawal” ad

Recently American Airlines published a hilarious nearly four minute ad intended to highlight the value of inflight wifi. As American describes it, “don’t let wifi withdrawal happen to you,” and they note that American has more planes with high-speed wifi than any airline in the world.

The ad is actually funny, and captures so many different types of passengers:

I love the different passengers they showcase, from the parent trying to entertain kids, to the road warrior, to the influencer.

I also think the feeling is highly relatable. We live in an age where we’re constantly connected, and for some of us there are almost withdrawal symptoms when we get on a flight without wifi.

The ad is great, but…

To me this ad is legitimately laugh out loud funny, and overall I think American does a great job with wifi. However, I’m labeling this as “brilliant(ish)” because I’m not exactly sure how this is intended to differentiate American from the competition.

Personally I have a slight preference for American’s wifi offering over Delta’s (since I like Viasat more than Gogo), and a strong preference for American’s wifi over United (they’re way behind when it comes to high speed wifi). However:

  • The ad is about “wifi withdrawal,” and virtually all of American’s competitors offer wifi nowadays as well
  • For the “average consumer” (which American largely seems to be highlighting here), Delta offers free in-flight messaging and is publicly working towards free wifi across the board, while American at least officially isn’t
  • JetBlue offers all passengers free wifi
  • When it comes to entertaining kids, Delta’s commitment to seatback entertainment is much more valuable than anything else
  • American might have wifi, but over 100 of their A321s don’t have in-seat power, and they use these on many transcon routes

Bottom line

This wifi ad from American perfectly sums up the feelings so many of us have when we board a flight without wifi.

That being said, this seems more like an ad for the progress the industry has made on the whole, rather than something specific to American. It’s not surprising to see American run an ad for it, though, since they don’t otherwise have much product-wise to differentiate themselves.

What do you make of American’s wifi ad?

  1. Each to his or her own. Personally I like planes with no wi-fi so I don’t have to deal with the self-absorbed finger tapping of my neighbors. Same reason I like that people can’t talk on the phone on planes.

    Not to mention that AA is just trying to big up their lack of IFE instead claiming that you can watch a movie on your phone. Yeah, right.

    I have never used wi-fi on a plane in my life and cannot imagine why I would.

  2. ViaSat sucks for T-Mobile customers, because for us Gogo is free. AAre you listening in the C suite? You need to get Viasat in on the deal.

  3. @Bobo

    If I recall correctly, it’s not AA that needs to get Viasat in on the T-Mobile deal, it’s T-Mobile. If you go on the T-Mobile forums, you’ll see that many folks lament the T-Mobile free 1 hour GoGo only and T-Mobile responds it’s *their* contract with GoGo that’s prohibiting it, not AA or UA or Delta.

    T-Mobile/GoGo chose to enter into an exclusive contract, and one or the other or both don’t want to add in other providers.

  4. Umm….am I missing something here??? 30 minutes into our flight from Phoenix to Maui, the Wi-Fi went dead. The attendent advised they don’t offer it once they leave the continental US. I said, “wow that’s great. Your planes must have gotten some major engine upgrades for us to be out of the U.S. already….either that or California finally seeded from the union because we are still over land.” The fact was it failed and as typical, American Airlines employees don’t help customers. Before you all start, my flight was changed by my airline to American at last minute. I didn’t choose it.

  5. I never use Wi-Fi on a plane. Perfect time to catch up on reading, and I am on a screen too much anyway.

    Wish they would spend that money on better food.

  6. WiFi withdrawal is real when you expect it and it doesn’t work. I had an AC 77W flights couple weeks ago (FIN 747) where I planned to have WiFi. I would have downloaded different documents before the flight if I had known I wouldn’t have it. Apparently the system on this aircraft hasn’t been working since at least last spring! But their WiFi availability tool still says that flights assigned this aircraft will have WiFi, as the system is technically installed.

  7. What is “brilliant” about this video?? Every element of this is truly farcical. And FWIW: I think most people would gladly surrender WiFi access on a trans con for a 2-3-2 wide-body with 40+” pitch seats as shown in this video.

  8. Flew to ORD from DCA recently twice and Wi-fi was down both times. Did get iSolve compensation, though.

  9. To me, airplane WiFi is like the spare wheel of a car. I don’t plan on using it, but if something happens (PTVs down or just not a great selection, last minute work, etc.), it’s nice to know that it’s there if I need it.

    Like others have implied, kind of ironic that American pushes this out when Wi-Fi is common across most airlines and fleets now, especially as they remove PTVs on domestic aircraft and thus forcing people to need WiFi more often.

  10. Funny. I’m reading this on an AA RJ145 while boarding dreading being disconnected from the world for the next hour and a half.

  11. It’s not funny, it’s sad that people don’t know what to do without Wifi. This is like being addicted to your phone and not even putting it down during meals. Sorry, can’t laugh about the video.

  12. Hey Betty, thanks for deciding to judge me and assuming there is an addiction vs something important going on in ones life that may need monitoring instead of the irony of reading an article about the wifi on AA as someone reading that article is boarding an AA flight without WiFi. But now that I’m on the ground I could read it 🙂

  13. @ Dave: I didn’t judge you. I just expressed my opinion. And I wonder what you all did in all the years without Wifi on planes. That ist my opinion, nothing else.

  14. Give us the legroom as shown in the cabin from the ad more than the WiFi, or film it in one of the Project Oasis planes. It’s false advertisement.

  15. So everyone has an opinion about wifi, cool! I got one too.

    But, as an ad, its engaging, funny at times, and for a certain segment of the population, namely those who dont fly often, or fly bare bone airlines, it’s probably effective.

    Not going to make me choose AA but this could have been a decent skit on SNL.

  16. I get why Wi-Fi is going to be important to certain people, like bloggers. How often does the average person have in the use Wi-Fi on a plane? 1% of the passengers maybe?

  17. Video was OK but way too long.

    I rarely use WiFi except as a novelty (hardly ever available on the planes I’m on or ludicrously overpriced). Doesn’t bother me at all, I just use it to catch up on reading or watch stuff I’ve downloaded already!

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