MIAMI – American Airlines (AA) has announced a new monthly Wi-Fi subscription plan for its regular fliers. Prior to this launch, the carrier’s monthly Wi-Fi subscriptions were only available to those flying onboard aircraft with Gogo 2Ku and Viasat connectivity. However, its Panasonic Wi-Fi connections are also to be included as part of its new plan.

Although the airline has enhanced its onboard Wi-Fi experience in recent years, it is continuing to find new ways to appeal to tech-savvy passengers. The carrier, headquartered in Fort Worth, now offers Wi-Fi connectivity on virtually all national and international flights, with Panasonic, Gogo 2Ku, and Viasat all partnered with American Airlines to offer connectivity depending on the aircraft’s model.

American Airlines Airbus A321-231 N151AN. Photo © Luca Flores

What’s New on Offer?

The new Wi-Fi subscription model for frequent passengers on American Airlines will cost $49.95 monthly. The Gogo 2Ku and Viasat connections will continue to be available for flights across the carrier’s narrow-bodied aircraft, while Panasonic will be included for the first time, giving fliers access when flying on-board the carrier’s wide-bodied aircraft, more typically used for long-haul transatlantic flights.

One of the main reasons for including Panasonic in the revised package is that wide-bodied flights are also increasingly used for domestic routes, such as east-to-west coast connections (New York to Los Angeles).

Of course, that decision may be overturned if passenger numbers continue to wane. With passenger demand falling, American Airlines and other leading US carriers opted to slash the number of long-haul flights by as much as 75%. These brands have fallen off the radar of many consumers that aren’t in the frame of mind to travel by air right now.

American Airlines is fortunate in that it manages to stay relevant with other demographics like the online poker community. That’s because American Texas Hold ‘em poker players use the term ‘American Airlines’ to describe a pair of aces, which appear like ‘AA’ on-screen.

A pair of aces is the best starting hand in online poker. It’s virtually impossible to carry out a blocking bet against opponents holding American Airlines on the river – the final community card in a Texas Hold ‘em game. These kinds of associations reinforce the view that AA will always be an iconic brand to people across the US. Ironically, the airline’s new Wi-Fi plans could also benefit those travelers who enjoy playing poker and various other games reliant on Wi-Fi connectivity on the move.

Those preferring to pay for Wi-Fi connectivity on-board an American Airlines flight on-demand will still have to pay from $10. However, Apple Music and Apple TV+ services will remain free to use for all passengers. Overall, it’s still nowhere near as compelling as Qatar Airways’ recent promotion, giving passengers 100 days of free in-flight Super Wi-Fi until January 2, 2021.

Delta offers a comparable Wi-Fi subscription service to AA. Photo:

How does American Airlines’ Wi-Fi plans compare with other airlines?

  • Delta
    Delta’s monthly Wi-Fi subscription plans start at US$49.95, too. However, this only covers domestic flights equipped with Gogo 2Ku connectivity. For monthly access to all domestic and transatlantic flights equipped with Gogo 2Ku connectivity, you will have to fork out US$69.95. Annual access to domestic flights with on-board Gogo 2Ku Wi-Fi is also offered at US$599, which works out at US$49.92 a month, so it’s by no means more cost-effective.
  • Air Canada
    On-demand one-way Wi-Fi passes are available from CAD$21 per person, with hourly passes also available at CAD$6.50 per person. Those seeking monthly subscription plans on Air Canada must pay CAD$65.95 for access to Gogo 2Ku on flights between Canada, the US, and Mexico. This comes in at around $49.50, which is a comparable rate to American Airlines.
  • United
    For the cost of US$49 or 7,500 air miles, you can secure access to the internet on any Wi-Fi-equipped United or United Express service. This only covers flights across North and Central America, but a global package is also available, starting at $69 or 10,500 air miles. According to the United official site, an annual package can save frequent fliers up to US$139 a year.
  • British Airways
    ‘Across the pond’, British Airways has been installing Wi-Fi connectivity across its fleet since 2017 and hopes to ensure 90% of all its planes are Wi-Fi friendly by the end of this year. At the time of writing, BA does not appear to offer monthly Wi-Fi subscriptions, which shows that the US airlines are very much ahead of the game. It’s not cheap to use BA’s on-demand Wi-Fi either. Long-haul Wi-Fi streaming costs £23.99 and as much as £14.99 just to browse the web.
  • Virgin Atlantic
    Wi-Fi connectivity is available on all Virgin Atlantic flights operated by Boeing 787 Dreamliner, 747 and Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft. You can choose from Wi-Fi Light and Wi-Fi Max for on-demand connectivity. The Light package gives you 40MB of data for £4.99 and the Max package includes 150MB of data for £14.99. No monthly subscription plan is available at the time of writing.
  • WestJet
    WestJet Airlines does not currently offer monthly Wi-Fi subscription plans. In fact, on-demand Wi-Fi connectivity is only available on its Boeing 767ER and Boeing 737 aircraft. 30-minute passes are available for US$5.74, while three-hour passes cost US$10.34 and flight passes for longer-haul journeys can be bought for US$16.
  • Southwest Airlines
    All Southwest planes are fitted with Wi-Fi connectivity, approaching speeds of up to 1.33MB. Although it does not offer a monthly subscription plan, it does offer arguably the cheapest Wi-Fi package of all the above airlines. Access to the Wi-Fi on-board is available for multiple devices at a cost of just US$8 per flight. There is a minor catch though, as some “high-bandwidth applications and websites” are restricted, but if you aren’t fussed about streaming heavily, this shouldn’t be a deterrent.

Featured image: How does American Airlines’ Wi-Fi package compare with other leading carriers?