American Airlines has had Gogo inflight internet for 10 years. Until recently, this ground based technology was exceedingly slow, I’ve heard it referred to as GoSlo. Finally American is introducing faster WiFi on their domestic fleet. The legacy US Airways fleet is rolling out Gogo2Ku satellite WiFi, and the legacy American Airlines fleet is introducing Viasat satellite WiFi. New deliveries of American Airlines 737Max come with Viasat installed. Legacy AA 321s are adding Viasat, and already have power ports. Legacy US Airways 321s have not started adding faster internet or power ports.
Satellite WiFi on American Airlines domestic fleet
How can you tell if your flight will have either 2Ku or Viasat? Different radome the plane. Gogo ATG has a series of small antennas on the side of planes. Both Viasat and Gogo 2Ku require a larger radome on top of the fuselage. It looks like the below. It is somewhat longer and thinner than some other satellite radomes, such as for Viasat.
There is likely no way to know in advance which type of WiFi your plane will have until it pulls into the gate. The unofficial American Airlines fleet page does keep track of which planes have updated WiFi. That site is a useful source if you want to monitor your particular aircraft.
As you can seen on the fleet page, these WiFi upgrades are moving fast across the American fleet. A recent trip had one flight with a Viasat plane (a 737), and another with a legacy US Airways A319 that had 2Ku. I was glad to finally test out the higher speed Gogo solution.
Connecting to 2Ku on American
My last American flight was a ~300 or so mile short hop on an Airbus 319. I noticed the 2Ku radome, so I was interested to test things out. I have a corporate iPass account, which works well on various in flight WiFi systems, including those provided by Gogo and Panasonic, but not Viasat on American. After sitting down, I couldn’t connect right away, but after being seated for a while, I noticed the network (gogoinflight) became available while we were still at the gate. I was able to connect and get online before takeoff, which is a nice improvement on the older Gogo ATG system, which is only active above 10,000 feet. The internet speed was noticeably faster than old Gogo, which was nice. Here are the results of the speed test I did:
If I recall correctly, this test was done while still on the ground in Charlotte, but speed remained fast throughout the flight. Given the short duration of the flight, I didn’t even bother getting online on my laptop. WiFi access is available for charge, but live TV content is free. Eventually seats will have mounts for to hold personal devices, although my case worked for this purpose. As I was on an A319, there are power ports, but if on a A320, there are currently none.
Streaming Live TV on personal devices on American Airlines
I did connect to live TV, which is a new feature American has rolled out on their 2Ku equipped planes. Eventually this service will roll out to Viasat equipped planes as well. Below is more information from an AA press release, and here is a link to the full document.
FORT WORTH, Texas – American Airlines has activated free live TV on its first 100 domestic aircraft, with plans to extend live TV and high-speed internet across its long-term mainline narrowbody fleet of more than 700 aircraft during 2019. American is already the only U.S. airline to offer live TV on international flights. All channels stream directly to customers’ laptops, phones or tablets free of charge. Live TV is easy to use and available from gate to gate – customers can choose it from American’s lineup of free entertainment that includes hundreds of movies and on-demand television shows.
You can watch twelve live TV channels powered by DISH on domestic flights:
- Disney Channel
- NFL Network
Before we took off, I got my tablet set up in the seat in front, and started streaming live TV. Nothing particularly urgent I wanted to watch during my short flight, but I was glad it worked, and it was very easy to set up and play.
Final thoughts on Gogo 2Ku on American
This is a definite improvement from typically painfully slow Gogo ATG technology. I didn’t notice any significant difference between 2Ku and Viasat in terms of speed. Both are fast, and speed tests are similar. Having access to Live TV is a nice plus too. Hopefully this will be added to more planes soon.
Have you flown on an American flight equipped with Gogo 2Ku?