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American Airlines now offers high speed satellite Wi-Fi on all mainline narrowbodies

Jun 21, 2019
Photo: Fabrizio Gandolfo/Wikimedia

Thanks to improving satellite internet technology, American Airlines has upgraded its entire mainline narrowbody fleet to now feature high speed satellite-based Wi-Fi.

Over 700 aircraft single-aisle aircraft in their mainline fleet have been upgraded to connect to either Gogo 2Ku or ViaSat Ka satellites, instead ground based stations, to provide much faster internet service, as well as on-demand and live streaming services.

The company recently completed installation of the fast, consistent and industry-leading connectivity on its entire long-term mainline narrowbody fleet of more than 700 aircraft. Satellite-based Wi-Fi allows customers to stream video without buffering or interruptions; upload and download files with ease; and stay connected from gate to gate. Upgraded bandwidth capacity ensures customers won’t compromise on connection quality or speed, even if every customer chooses to access inflight internet at the same time.

Additionally, every satellite-equipped aircraft can now stream live TV, giving more customers access to 12 channels on their personal devices free of charge. American is already the only U.S. airline to offer live TV on international flights.

Besides the increased speed, this means the airline can also provide coverage well beyond the United States borders. For instance, when I flew to Trinidad (my home country), the older Gogo Wi-Fi system would generally become useless about half hour after departing Miami. However, on a recent trip, I traveled on a Gogo 2Ku-equipped 737-800 and had continuous service all the way to 8,000 feet before the flight attendants disabled the service for landing.

Speeds hovered around 6 Mbps, which isn’t bad compared to the paltry 0.1 Mbps I usually got on previous flights with ground-based technology.

As the airline looks to transition away from having seat-back personal TVs, they are aiming to have power outlets installed at every seat so that passengers can keep their devices charged while they stream content directly to their devices instead. The company is also installing tablet holders so that passengers can prop their devices instead of having to hold them in their hands.

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