FORT WORTH- In-flight WiFi offerings among airlines in the United States are gravitating towards a model of complimentary service, or for carriers that opt for charges, the standard fee usually revolves around $8 per flight.
A notable outlier in this trend is American Airlines (AA), where the cost of connectivity for a single device during a flight can surpass $20.
Contrasting the per-flight payment structure, I choose to subscribe at a rate of $49.95 per month, which encompasses a single device on their narrowbody aircraft equipped with either ViaSat or Intelsat (formerly Gogo) technology, flagged Viewfromthewing.
American Airlines Onboard Wifi
American Airlines has recently introduced two new pricing options that have left me feeling a bit perplexed:
- An annual plan for $599 accommodates a single device.
- A yearly plan for $699 allows usage on two devices.
Although the airline asserts that these Wi-Fi subscription plans are applicable to all flights within North America, regardless of the Wi-Fi provider, I’m not entirely convinced of the accuracy of this statement unless there have been some changes in recent weeks.
It’s worth noting that American Airlines (AA) widebody aircraft are equipped with Panasonic systems, and the coverage of monthly plans does not extend to these particular planes.
While the majority of North American flights are operated using narrowbody aircraft, it’s important to remember that not all flights fall within this category.
Here’s a breakdown of the Wi-Fi service providers for specific aircraft types:
- ViaSat: Boeing 737 (including 737 MAX); Airbus A321; Legacy American Airlines A319.
- Intelsat 2ku: Airbus A320; Legacy US Airways A319.
- Air to Ground (“SlowGo”): Embraer E-170 and E-175; Bombardier CR7, CR9 regional jets.
- Panasonic: Boeing 787-8 and -9; Boeing 777 (-200 and -300ER).
- No Wi-Fi: Embraer E-145 regional jets.
Multiple Connectivity Systems
ViaSat’s connectivity tends to exhibit the most optimal performance among the available Wi-Fi options. The service provided by the company formerly known as Gogo is generally reliable, but in my personal experience, it tends to exhibit slightly higher latency.
However, Panasonic’s Wi-Fi service on American Airlines has been less than satisfactory. There seems to be an ongoing issue with blame-shifting behind the scenes. On one hand, American executives have expressed dissatisfaction with the service.
On the other hand, Panasonic suggests that the problem might be linked to American’s reluctance to invest in sufficient bandwidth and allocate time for maintenance.
It’s been indicated that Americans are unwilling to take aircraft out of operation for repairs, leading to planes with poorly functioning internet continuing to operate.
The airline also advertises features like “complimentary Apple Music streaming, a Lifestyle In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) channel, and access to e-learning tools such as Rosetta Stone.”
However, this sometimes involves providing American Airlines passengers access to third-party services or potentially engaging in reciprocal arrangements rather than making direct investments.
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