As a frequent flyer with American these days, I’m happy to take good news however it comes. Generally mediocrity is what I expect, and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. As a long time T-Mobile user, with a cheap old plan that I have no desire to change, the free inflight wifi benefit is not what it once was, since Gogo is not as ubiquitous as it once was. While Delta is working on free inflight wifi for all SkyMiles members, United offers free messaging to all, and free wifi to T-Mobile customers on their Viasat and Gogo equipped planes, American was until recently not as generous.
Finally in June 2023, American now offers free wifi to T-Mobile customers on its entire narrow body fleet. Only exceptions are 50-seat planes that do not offer wifi. Also note that most widebody planes that usually fly long haul have Panasonic wifi and these are not included. These planes do occasionally cover domestic flights. So while American is now finally catching up to their competition among the Big Three US carriers, this is still somewhat limited compared to what they offer. It works for me as a T-Mobile user, but not so useful for others.
What is American’s in-flight wifi setup?
Just as a reminder, the bulk of the American fleet has Viasat high speed wifi. This includes the 300+ strong 737 fleet and more than 300 A321s. Gogo is on the larger regional jets operating as American Eagle, including CRJ-700 and CRJ-900, as well as the ERJ-170 and ERJ-175. The legacy US Airways fleet, which is most of the A-319 and all the A-320 in the fleet have Gogo 2KU high speed wifi. The 32 A319s that originally were ordered by legacy American Airlines have Viasat. All of this is confusing, but thankfully now, at least for T-mobile users, wifi is free across the fleet?
What is the T-Mobile offering?
This benefit has changed a few times since it launched many years ago, but now that it covers both Gogo and Viasat, most domestic flights are covered. On mainline flights with Alaska, American, Delta and United, that means high speed wifi, often fast enough for streaming.
My T-Mobile plan is several generations old, but still sufficient for my needs, and most of all the price is right. This means I get an hour of free wifi onboard, and 4 flights a year with full coverage. Some plans offer unlimited inflight wifi.
How does the American offering compare to other carriers?
To American I say, better late than never? I guess? But for those that do not use T-Mobile, there is still no free option on American flights. And for those paying, pricing is steep, several times higher than their competition. On longer flights with Viasat, American does offer 20 minutes of free sponsored wifi, but I haven’t found this to be consistent.
Alaska, Southwest and United offer wifi for $8 per flight. United charges $2 more for those who aren’t Mileage Plus members. Alaska doesn’t have high speed wifi on their entire fleet yet which include this pricing plan, but are working on it. Delta is going towards free for all SkyMiles members, but have set a target of the end of 2023 for mainline fleet and 2024 for their regional fleet to complete this project.