American debuts new Wi-Fi redemptions, but stops short of making it free

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Staying connected when flying with American Airlines is about to get a little bit easier.

The Fort Worth-based carrier on Wednesday unveiled a few updates to its onboard Wi-Fi service, including the ability to redeem AAdvantage miles for internet packages.

This new mileage redemption option will officially debut in the coming weeks on select aircraft. After a short beta period, nearly all of the airline’s domestic aircraft will offer this feature.

The rollout for domestic flights is expected to be completed by the start of the summer travel season. Note that this redemption option will only be available on aircraft equipped with Viasat connectivity, which includes all Boeing 737 and select Airbus A319 aircraft.

JSX Starlink Wi-Fi MacBook Pro MacBook Air

American first announced that AAdvantage members could redeem miles for Wi-Fi in late February as part of a larger announcement around enhanced benefits for AAdvantage members.

It wasn’t immediately clear how American plans to price its Wi-Fi packages in miles, and a carrier spokesperson declined to share more details.

United Airlines has long offered the ability to redeem MileagePlus miles for Wi-Fi service. The redemption rate typically falls below TPG’s valuation of 1.4 cents per MileagePlus mile. So, I typically purchase United Wi-Fi with my cobranded credit card and save my miles for flight awards.

To power American’s new service, the carrier will also roll out a new landing page at on board its jets. This updated landing page has started to pop up on select flights in recent days as the carrier tests the new service.

Expect a new design, as well as the ability to log in to your AAdvantage account for mileage redemptions, on this new landing page.

Though American is making Wi-Fi more accessible with a new mileage redemption option, the carrier is stopping short of lowering its Wi-Fi pricing or making it free altogether, as Delta Air Lines and JetBlue have done.

American consistently offers the most expensive Wi-Fi plans of all the major U.S. airlines, charging as much as $35 on a flight from New York to Los Angeles. (On the same route, Alaska Airlines and United charge $8; Delta and JetBlue offer connectivity for free.)

That said, American is rolling out a limited free Wi-Fi offering for all Viasat-equipped flights. This timed service will be available for 20 minutes in exchange for watching a 15- or 30-second ad.

American Airlines Planes Charlotte

This free, ad-supported Wi-Fi option was first rolled out in 2022, but it’s historically been only available on select flights. It’ll now be active across 100% of American’s Viasat domestic narrow-body fleet. Just note that you can only get one free Wi-Fi package per device per flight.

If you’re looking to save on inflight connectivity, be sure to check out our guide to scoring free and discounted inflight Wi-Fi with credit cards.

In addition to the aforementioned upgrades, American reiterated plans to upgrade the connectivity systems on regional jets. The airline plans to roll out high-speed Wi-Fi to nearly 500 dual-class regional aircraft beginning this summer.

While Wednesday’s announcement is certainly noteworthy, it’s unfortunate that American still hasn’t made good on its 2017 promise to offer free inflight messaging to everyone.

In 2017, Delta Air Lines was the first of the “Big Three” U.S. airlines to offer free messaging to all travelers. This allowed flyers to connect to the internet to use apps such as iMessage and WhatsApp without paying for a full Wi-Fi pass.

American announced the next day that it would match Delta’s move “soon” but didn’t provide a concrete timeline. Yet here we are, seven years later, and American still hasn’t enabled this offering.

Even Southwest Airlines and United, which have many fleets outfitted with slower and less reliable Wi-Fi than American, now offer free messaging. So, it’s a bummer that American still hasn’t made good on this promise.

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