American Airlines to Offer In-Flight Streaming, Free Wi-Fi with Ads

American Airlines claims to be the first airline to offer video streaming capabilities on its entire mainline fleet.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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In-flight Wi-Fi can have a reputation for being about as reliable as a flock of pigeons. Often, you're lucky if you can get a basic email to load, let alone stream a movie from an app. But American Airlines says that’s about to change.

The airline announced it will be the first airline to offer video streaming capabilities on its entire mainline fleet. That’s in contrast to some other airlines, which prohibit access to certain high-bandwidth applications, websites and video conferencing services.

Other airlines do offer streaming on certain planes. For example, Delta Sync Wi-Fi is powerful enough to allow streaming, but it’s not available on all Delta Air Lines flights yet. Similarly, Alaska Airlines has some aircrafts that offer streaming-fast satellite Wi-Fi, but the airline’s Embraer E175s and Boeing 737-700s are still relegated to basic Wi-Fi.

The news comes in tandem with other announcements about changes to American Airlines Wi-Fi, including new options to connect to Wi-Fi for free or with AAdvantage miles.

Free Wi-Fi on American Airlines flights

Passengers on American’s Viasat domestic narrowbody aircraft will have the option to connect to free Wi-Fi, though they’ll have to sit through some ads for the privilege. Otherwise, the paid option removes ads.

Few other airlines offer entirely free Wi-Fi, which could give American Airlines a leg up with frugal travelers. JetBlue is the only U.S. airline to offer free, high-speed Wi-Fi across every seat and on every plane — a feature that largely contributes to its top spot as NerdWallet’s best airline for in-flight entertainment. Delta Air Lines also offers free Wi-Fi on most domestic flights and plans to add global routes by the end of 2024.

Redeeming American miles for Wi-Fi

Soon, members of the airline’s AAdvantage loyalty program will be able to redeem AAdvantage miles for Wi-Fi on certain flights. The airline has not yet specified how many miles Wi-Fi will cost or when the changes will kick in.

“American will start rolling out this new ability to redeem miles in the next few weeks on a couple select aircraft,” according to a news release on March 20. “By the summer travel season, all of the airline’s Viasat-equipped narrowbody aircraft will offer this ability to unlock Wi-Fi in exchange for miles.”

New entertainment

If you prefer to indulge in American’s entertainment rather than stream your own, the airline has rolled out some fresh content. Two new partnerships with Hey Bear Sensory and FitOn will provide unique options, including baby sensory videos, meditations, affirmations and seated stretches.

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Cards for American Airlines from our Partners
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

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Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


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