YES! American Airlines Will Install High Speed Wifi On 500 Regional Jets

American Airlines has among the better inflight internet on its domestic planes. They also charge the most for it. But their international fleet lags, with slower and older Panasonic service. And their large regional jets still have Gogo air to ground service (“Slo-Go”). The airline’s small regional jets aren’t wifi-enabled at all.

As a result I am happy to fly American’s mainline domestic planes, but I avoid their regional jets whenever possible. If I buy a ticket on American to fly a regional jet, I know that’s up to several hours of lost productivity.

A year ago I wrote that it’s time for American to put better internet into its regional jets. I did not expect it. Delta is making this investment, and they must have found that there are a lot of customers like me – who will book away from the airline because they haven’t yet made this investment – because they’ve just announced plans to install wifi in ‘nearly 500 regional aircraft’.

Starting next year, American will install high speed internet in its two-cabin regional aircraft. That means Embraer E-175, Bombardier CR7 and CR9s. Their 50 seat Embraer E-145s will remain dark.

Smaller Regional Jets Will Remain Dark

The process is expected to take two years to complete.

Over the next two years, the airline intends to help even more customers have a consistent and connected inflight experience through the forthcoming introduction of high-speed Wi-Fi on the dual-class regional aircraft operated on its behalf. American is working to extend its relationship with Intelsat with the plan to install new high-speed Wi-Fi capability on nearly 500 regional aircraft beginning next year.

Regional jet wifi will be provided by Intelsat, which acquired Gogo’s commercial business. This is the provider for American’s Airbus A320 and legacy US Airways A319 aircraft. In my experience it does not perform as well as ViaSat, which is on the rest of American’s narrowbody fleet. However it works ‘good enough’ and for the demands of a regional jet it should be fine.

Large Regional Jets Get Satellite Wifi

American promised free inflight messaging at Investor and Media Day in September 2017. When I asked a year later why they hadn’t rolled this out, they acted like they’d never heard of such a thing. The announcement was made without having been fully vetted internally, and leadership balked at the expense. I’m somewhat surprised that CFO Devon May got on board with this.

However, when US Airways finally decided to add inflight wifi (Gogo) more than a decade ago, they explained the delay and ultimate decision as,

  • They didn’t move forward because they saw it as an expense, and not something they’d make money on
  • Until they saw that customers were actually booking away – they were losing ticket sales – without internet

That’s the place American Airlines must expect to find itself in with its larger regional jets, as technology passes them by. They have excellent internet in their domestic mainline aircraft. Their widebody aircraft not yet as much, and on their regional planes it’s unusable. It now seems those regional jets will receive desperately need attention.

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. As long as large regional jets are used virtually interchangeably on routes w/ mainline aircraft, the product offering has to be comparable. Wifi is a must for the big 3 now.
    The real dividing line will be w/ small RJs – which aren’t long for this world.

  2. I am curious about in flight Wi-Fi access to the internet. I usually do not go online while flying but I have looked up stock results a few times. Has anyone here actually digitally initiated a stock trade while flying? If so, did you use any special security precautions? Were there any latency issues?

  3. Now AA just needs to work on their pricing. It’s a bit ridiculous they charge $29 on transcon flights.

  4. AA may as well just go all in and reinstall seatback screens. UA is seeing the light and its time for AA to follow. With thousands of premium fliers fleeing DL, the screens are really the only advantage DL had. The rest of their post covid airline is falling apart quickly.

  5. Can not go anywhere without internet access anymore. Need it internationally for mapping directions, business hours, exchang rates, translations and to email.

    I find it hard to be with someone on a trip and not be able to text them to say I am on Main st. When my telephone provider does not give me access in a foreign country.

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