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How Much Does Inflight Wi-Fi On American Airlines Cost And How Can You Get it For Free?

How Much Does Inflight Wi-Fi On American Airlines Cost And How Can You Get it For Free?

a group of people sitting in an airplane

Unlike a growing number of its rivals, American Airlines has so far resisted calls to introduce complimentary inflight Wi-Fi on a large scale. While AA has dabbled with free Wi-Fi offers from time to time, these promotions are few and far between, although there are still ways to either get free Wi-Fi or at least reduce the cost.

In this guide, we explore the availability of inflight Wi-Fi across AA’s aircraft fleet, as well as ways to get free Wi-Fi as a T-Mobile subscriber, reducing the cost with a subscription and how to get 25% of Wi-Fi purchases with an AAdvantage co-branded credit card.

American Airlines has done a really good job at rolling out inflight Wi-Fi coverage across the vast majority of its entire fleet, although, as a relatively early adopter of inflight Wi-Fi, the experience you receive in terms of speed and latency can vary quite significantly from one aircraft type to another.

This is mainly down to the fact that American Airlines has three different WI-Fi suppliers:

  • Intelsat (formerly known as GoGo) is available on some of AA’s mainline domestic and single-aisle aircraft fleets, as well as regional jets. This used to be mockingly referred to as ‘GoSlow’ because connection speeds were so poor, but satellite updates mean you no longer have to worry about getting a slow connection on Intelsat-enabled mainline aircraft.
  • Viasat is a Ka-band satellite-provided inflight Wi-Fi supplier which operates on the rest of AA’s domestic and single-aisle fleet. Viasat is generally considered the fastest available Wi-Fi across AA’s fleet, with a true streaming quality connection.
  • Panasonic powers the inflight Wi-Fi service across AA’s widebody aircraft fleet. As a result, you’ll generally experience Panasonic inflight Wi-Fi on longer international flights, but these planes are also used to operate some domestic flights and shorter international services.

American Airlines completed the installation of high-speed inflight Wi-Fi across its single-aisle aircraft fleet early last year – whether that be via Intelsat or Viasat – and the carrier now offers streaming quality internet on more than 900 mainline aircraft.

Unfortunately, the rollout of high-speed inflight Wi-Fi hasn’t included regional jets operated as American Eagle… Until now. Late last year, AA announced plans to upgrade the Wi-Fi systems on around 500 regional jets with new Electronically Steered Array (ESA) antennae that will be capable of providing low latency high-speed internet connection.

The rollout will take around two years to complete, and once all aircraft are upgraded, passengers will be able to stream, browse and even log onto a VPN with ease.

American Airlines might have done a better job at rolling out high-speed Wi-Fi across most of its fleet than most of its competitors, but it’s going to charge you for it.

Unlike a growing number of airlines, AA still charges for in-flight Wi-Fi usage as standard and traveling in a premium cabin or achieving elite AAdvantage member status will not exempt you from having to pay.

American Airlines generally offers two types of Wi-Fi packages, which are based on duration rather than data usage:

  • Time-based packages – between 1 and 2 hours
  • Flight pass – good for the entire flight

Officially, prices start from $10 but can vary significantly depending on the flight duration. A flight pass on a long-haul international flight is going to cost a lot more than a flight pass on a two-hour domestic flight.

For example, a flight pass between Dallas Fort Worth and London Heathrow can cost around $35, whereas a flight pass between Dallas Fort Worth and New York JFK is priced at just $19.

One of the most popular methods to control inflight Wi-Fi costs is by getting a cellular package with T-Mobile (US customers only).

T-Mobile has an ‘In-Flight Connection On Us’ program which essentially sponsors inflight WI-Fi on several airlines, including AA, giving eligible T-Mobile customers free streaming quality Wi-Fi.

You’re covered for free Wi-Fi if you subscribe to one of the following T-Mobile packages:

  • Go5G Plus,
  • Go5G,
  • Magenta,
  • Magenta MAX
  • All Sprint plans, with the exception of Essentials, Kickstart and legacy Talk & Text, are also covered by the ‘In-Flight Connection On Us’ program.

How much streaming quality Wi-Fi you receive, however, depends on your rate plan:

T-Mobile or Sprint Rate Plan Access to streaming quality Wi-Fi
Go5G PlusUnlimited Full Flight Streaming
Magenta MAXUnlimited Full Flight Streaming
Magenta PlusUnlimited Full Flight Streaming
PlusUpUnlimited Full Flight Streaming
ONE PlusUnlimited Full Flight Streaming
Sprint MAX and Unlimited Plus/PremiumUnlimited Full Flight Streaming
Go5GFour full flight streaming sessions Unlimited one hour of streaming 
MagentaFour full flight streaming sessions Unlimited one hour of streaming 
T-Mobile ONE Four full flight streaming sessions Unlimited one hour of streaming 
Sprint ONE, Unlimited Freedom, Everything Data Share, Unlimited Savings, Sprint Unlimited, Affordable ChoiceFour full flight streaming sessions Unlimited one hour of streaming 

A couple of important notes about the ‘In-Flight Connection On Us‘ program:

  • Free inflight Wi-Fi through T-Mobile will only work on a mobile device and not a laptop computer or tablet.
  • The program is only available on Intelsat and Viasat-enabled aircraft. If your aircraft is fitted with a Panasonic Wi-Fi system (even if it’s operating a domestic flight), the free Wi-Fi offer isn’t available.

If you’re a regular flyer on AA’s North American network and you need to use a laptop or tablet, then a monthly or annual Wi-Fi subscription might be the best way to control your costs.

American Airlines offers four different subscription packages:

  1. A monthly plan for just one device
  2. A monthly plan for two devices
  3. An annual plan for just one device
  4. An annual plan for two devices
Wi-Fi planNumber of devicesCost
Monthly plan1$49.95
2-device monthly plan2$59.95
Annual plan1$599
2-device annual plan2$699

All four subscription plans only work on flights within the United States or between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Central America.

If you sign up to the monthly or annual 1-device plan, then you can still switch from one device to another during the same flight. Of course, if you want to simultaneously have access to Wi-Fi on both your laptop and mobile device, then you’ll need a 2-device plan.

Unlike the T-Mobile program, AA’s subscription plans also work on Panasonic-equipped aircraft if they are operating flights within an eligible part of the AA network.

Designed for business owners, the co-branded CitiBusiness / AAdvantage
Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard credit card
offers a host of benefits, including 25% savings on AA inflight Wi-Fi (when you use the card).

As of January 2024, the AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard comes with a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year and then $99 thereafter.

Other benefits of the card include:

  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights for the cardholder and up to four companions on the same booking
  • 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases
  • Earn an American Airlines Companion Certificate for domestic travel after spending $30,000 in each card membership year.

AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points are credited as follows:

Type of spendEarning rate
telecommunications merchants and cable and satellite providersx2 miles for every $1 spent
American Airlines purchasesx2 miles for every $1 spent
gas stations and car rental merchantsx2 miles for every $1 spent
All other purchasesx1 miles for every $1 spent
Loyalty PointsOne Loyalty Point for every $1 spent

American Airlines is also currently offering 65,000 AAdvantage bonus miles for your business after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening (correct as of January 2024).

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