While many airlines now offer Wi-Fi onboard, only a handful of carriers offer usable Wi-Fi that is fast enough to complete tasks without wanting to bang your head on the tray table in front of you. Take for instance United, who not only has four Wi-Fi providers, but has slow, barely-functioning Wi-Fi on many of its flights.
The transition from cloud-to-ground to satellite-based Wi-Fi is a huge step forward in terms of speed and therefore, usability. Great news for American flyers then.
American Airlines has now completed its retrofit of all 700+ mainline aircraft to satellite Wi-Fi. The only exception to this is American’s MD-80 aircraft which will be retired in September 2019.
American’s Wi-Fi Providers
While not as many as United, American still uses three satellite Wi-Fi providers. That means depending on your aircraft, you will see one of the following companies onboard managing the Wi-Fi service:
- Panasonic: All internationally configured aircraft (Boeing 757, 767, 777-200, 777-300, 787-8, 787-9, Airbus A330)
- Viasat: All domestic legacy American aircraft
- Gogo2ku: All domestic legacy USAir aircraft
Of course, there are some airlines that offer free Wi-Fi for everyone onboard and even Delta is trialing complimentary Wi-Fi on select routes. American, meanwhile, now offers free Apple Music streaming, but unfortunately not something useful like free messaging.
Regional planes under the American Eagle name are still stuck with the slower Gogo cloud-to-ground Wi-Fi, and no word on whether they will transition to satellite Wi-Fi in the future.
Meanwhile, the hack to free Wi-Fi for Gogo-equipped flights with a T-Mobile number seems to be gone for good. At least Wi-Fi speeds are faster now (for the most part). Usable Wi-Fi for the win.
Hopefully, what comes next is power outlets at every seat…because what year is it again?
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