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American Airlines Unlikely to Slash Inflight Wi-Fi Prices Anytime Soon

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If you’re waiting for American Airlines to follow in the footsteps of its competitors and offer free or significantly cheaper inflight Wi-Fi, you might be waiting for a while. During a media briefing at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2024 in Hamburg, Germany, a top customer experience official for American Airlines indicated that the airline is not likely to reduce Wi-Fi prices in the near future.

Competitor Comparisons

Rival airlines have made headlines with their Wi-Fi offerings. Delta Air Lines began rolling out free Wi-Fi to much of its fleet last year, requiring only a SkyMiles loyalty program sign-up. JetBlue has offered free Wi-Fi for years, and United Airlines simplified its Wi-Fi pricing to a flat $8 per flight for MileagePlus members on domestic and short-haul international flights. Southwest Airlines also charges $8 per device.

AirlineWi-Fi Pricing
Delta Air LinesFree (with SkyMiles sign-up)
United Airlines$8 per flight (MileagePlus members)
Southwest Airlines$8 per device
American Airlines$12 – $35 (varies by flight)

American Airlines’ Current Pricing

American Airlines’ Wi-Fi pricing remains significantly higher and varies by flight. In 2024, rates have ranged from $12 on short East Coast flights to between $19 and $25 on other domestic routes, and up to $35 for transatlantic flights.

Official Response

During the media briefing, Kimberly Cisek, American Airlines’ vice president of customer experience, responded to questions about the airline’s Wi-Fi pricing. She said, “American Airlines does offer and operate the most high-speed Wi-Fi aircraft in the world. As we continue to invest in this space for our customers, we are providing not only Wi-Fi but also free entertainment options, including podcasts, videos, and movies — over 1,500 selections.”

Cisek also mentioned American’s recent changes to its AAdvantage program, which now allows customers to pay for inflight internet using miles on certain aircraft. However, it’s advisable to check TPG’s Awards vs. Cash Calculator before opting for this payment method to ensure you’re not overspending your miles.

Future of Wi-Fi Pricing

When pressed on whether American Airlines might eventually offer free Wi-Fi, Cisek responded, “More to come. Right now we just launched our miles as a form of payment.”

Improved Wi-Fi Reliability

Despite higher prices, American Airlines has made significant investments in its Wi-Fi service, resulting in more reliable connectivity. On a majority of the 32 flights I’ve taken with the carrier in 2024, the Wi-Fi service has been robust. These improvements are part of American’s broader efforts to upgrade technology, which, while costly, enhance the passenger experience.

Industry Trends

The trend toward cheaper or free inflight Wi-Fi is evident across the U.S. airline industry. Delta, JetBlue, and United have all made moves to offer more affordable or complimentary Wi-Fi services. It’s clear that this trend is gaining traction, and it will be interesting to see how American Airlines adapts in the coming years.

Final Thoughts

While American Airlines has made strides in improving the reliability and speed of its inflight Wi-Fi, the airline is unlikely to lower prices or offer free Wi-Fi in the near future. For now, passengers will need to navigate the current pricing structure or use miles to offset costs. As industry trends continue to push for more accessible Wi-Fi, it remains to be seen how American Airlines will respond.

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