American Airlines Backtracks, Isn’t Rolling Out Free Inflight Texting After All

Earlier in the month when American Airlines promoted that they had added live TV to over 100 planes I pointed out that they still hadn’t added free inflight texting the way they had promised one year ago at their Investor and Media Day and which Delta and Alaska already offer.

American had announced free texting right after Delta made their announcement. But American didn’t follow through. Nonetheless merely announcing got them lots of coverage such as USA Today, the Arizona Republic and the Economist to name just a few.

I asked American what was going on, where was the free texting they promised, and a spokesperson tells me,

Right now we’re focusing our investments in other areas such as fast Wi-Fi, power ports and free entertainment including live TV. We’re re-evaluating the cost and benefits of texting options but don’t have a timeline for implementation.

It’s fine to re-evaluate strategy. For instance carry on bags are once again allowed on basic economy fares.

Notably though things like satellite internet and adding power ports to the legacy US Airways ‘basket of deplorables’ fleet are not new initiatives that have come along since American announced their plan to offer free texting. These are just other things American is doing while quietly dropping texting from their plan. They aren’t saying never, but will no longer even say it’s coming.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I can hear the haters coming now. “Yet another post about how much you hate AA” etc.

    The real question is: how is decision making at AA allowed to be so poor, that accounting for their failures, missteps and shortcomings could become a full time job?

  2. I guess I’m not sure this is even a negative piece about AA. I simply report the change.

    I’d be unlikely to use free messaging because I have an AA-specific unlimited internet plan already. No loss from my end!

  3. I’m glad that they would invest the time and money working on fast wifi and powerports, instead of wasting effort on inflight texting. There are MANY programs and apps that you can text to/from with most devices and PC’s that have a wifi connection…

  4. AA has serious commitment issues. Why say you’re going to do something and then not follow through? They just end up looking petty and foolish.

  5. I’d be happy (well, sort of) if they would make up their mind which inflight wifi company they’re going to use & stick with it. Right now, they’ve got 3 different ones & the monthly pass I already pay for on Gogo (the most expensive one since I have staff who primarily fly DL) can’t be used on planes that have either Panasonic or ViaSat, both of which I’ve ended up on multiple times since July. And don’t even get me started on how slow Gogo is now that everyone on the plane is using it for the ‘free’ IFE. It’s this kind of stuff that just makes the AA product unbearable.

  6. Honestly, I’m impressed that AA’s PR people will even talk to you, given your penchant for putting everything they do in the worst possible light.

    As others have noted, if your aircraft has wifi, you can text. The world is not waiting with bated breath for AA to roll out a dedicated texting function.

    In the meantime, AA’s inflight technology program seems very useful to their customers. They’re rushing to get wifi and TV on hundreds more aircraft in the next year. That’s obviously the real story, not this texting non-issue.

  7. The free market isnt actually that free. The US3 have created an oligopoly, and they know that beyond a few angry bloggers, and their readers, this wont make an impact on their business. Im no socialist, however, capitalism of this sort is the worst

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