American Airlines now offers free inflight messaging on ViaSat-equipped aircraft using Facebook Messenger (and Messenger Kids). That means it’s offered on all American Airlines Boeing 737’s (including 737 MAXs), Airbus A321s, and legacy American A319s.
Legacy US Airways A319s and Airbus A320s have Gogo internet and are not included. Widebody planes with Panasonic internet are not included.
Three years ago American Airlines announced free inflight texting, which Delta and Alaska were already offering. They never implemented it. The airline’s President acted like he’d never heard of the idea when I inquired after a year. So this is a long time in coming, and it’s only a partial step applying to one app and some aircraft.
American also calls this a test. It’s expect to last four months and they tell me “if successful we hope to introduce it permanently.” Since this is still a test “there is small chance functionality could be intermittent on an aircraft.” Eventually this could be rolled out further to additional aircraft. It’s certainly progress, considering that the airline continues to remove seat back video screens from narrowbody aircraft.
Intelsat has acquired Gogo’s commercial internet business and promises to be able to deliver the bandwidth needed for Delta to offer full internet streaming free to all passengers. American Airlines has been prepared to match Delta’s free full internet offer as soon as the Atlanta-based carrier pulls the trigger.