American Airlines Finally Offers Free Inflight Messaging On Most Domestic Aircraft

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.

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. Lame.

    Alaska and Delta offer free Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage.

    American manages yet again to check the box but in a minimal effort sort of way.

  2. WhatsApp has very little use among Americans. It’s popular overseas.

    iMessage is Apple only and sucks reasonably hard.

    Facebook Messenger is a great way for me to warm up the ladies so WAP is ready as soon as I land.

  3. What the heck is “Facebook Messenger”? I guess if you’re a frequent Facebook user, you know. For everyone else, so what?

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