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TravelAmerican Airlines is unlikely to drop Wi-Fi prices in near future

American Airlines is unlikely to drop Wi-Fi prices in near future

If you’re hoping American Airlines might follow its competitors in offering free — or at least cheaper — inflight Wi-Fi service, you might not want to hold your breath.

During a media briefing held Tuesday at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2024 in Hamburg, Germany, a top customer experience official for the Fort Worth-based carrier seemed to suggest American is unlikely to slash Wi-Fi prices — at least in the near future.

Considering that rival Delta Air Lines made headlines last year when it began rolling out free Wi-Fi to much of its fleet, requiring only a SkyMiles loyalty program sign-up, questions around the airline’s Wi-Fi pricing are more than valid.

JetBlue has also offered free Wi-Fi for years. In recent years, United Airlines simplified its Wi-Fi pricing. On domestic and short-haul international flights, it offers the inflight service for a flat $8-per-flight rate for MileagePlus members. Southwest Airlines also charges $8 per device.

But American’s pricing has remained far higher. Rates fluctuate from one flight to the next; in 2024 I’ve paid anywhere from $12 on a short-hop East Coast flight to between $19 and $25 on other domestic flights … and $35 for a transatlantic flight.

An American Airlines Airbus A321 aircraft at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

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When asked this week whether the carrier might drop its Wi-Fi pricing — or make it free, like Delta and JetBlue — here’s what Kimberly Cisek, American Airlines’ vice president of customer experience, said: “American Airlines does offer and operate the most high-speed Wi-Fi aircraft in the world, actually. And so, as we continue to invest in this space for our customers, we are providing our customers not only with Wi-Fi … but also with free entertainment options, both from podcasts to videos, to movies — over 1,500 selections for our customers to choose from.”

Cisek also made note of American’s recent changes to its AAdvantage program, which included allowing customers the option to pay for inflight internet purchases using miles on certain aircraft— though before you agree to that option, be sure to consult TPG’s Awards vs. Cash Calculator to ensure you’re not throwing away hard-earned miles.

Kimberly Cisek, American Airlines’ vice president of customer experience, speaks at the 2024 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany. SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Pressed for an answer, though, on whether free Wi-Fi might coming, Cisek said: “More to come. Right now we just launched our miles as a form of payment.”

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It is worth noting (and to Cisek’s point) that American’s Wi-Fi service has certainly gotten more reliable in recent years. I’ve had solid service on a strong majority of the 32 flights I’ve taken with the carrier so far in 2024.

That’s thanks in large part to investments in technology upgrades the carrier has made — and those investments are expensive, to be sure.

Still, with decreasing Wi-Fi pricing being a clear trend in the U.S. airline industry these days, it’s worth watching how American handles this in the future. For now, though? Stay tuned, it seems.

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