American Now Has Live TV With No Screens But Hasn’t Delivered Promised Free Texting

American Airlines announced that they now have high speed internet and live tv on 100 domestic narrowbody aircraft. The plan is to roll it out across the rest of their domestic fleet over the coming year as they add high speed satellite internet to aircraft.

  • Offering live television is better than not offering live television
  • And because different aircraft modification projects are proceeding on different tracks, this creates a brief window where American’s inflight product will be getting better.

You don’t get a screen to watch TV, it’s BYOD(evice). But the channels they offer are CBS, CNBC, CNN, Disney, ESPN, FOX, NBC, NFL Network, Telemundo, TNT, and USA. Some of my readers will notice that Fox News is missing, others will lament the lack of MSNBC.

In fact, there are 111 aircraft equipped with Gogo’s 2Ku satellite internet and these planes offer free live TV. All of the airline’s Airbus A320s have the product along with “more than 60 A319s” according to internal documents. Today the product is available only on legacy US Airways aircraft and the A320s do not yet have seat power, so bring a backup battery if you want to watch something.

Kurt Stache, who years ago ran AAdvantage and is now Senior Vice President of Marketing, Loyalty, & Sales, says “our customers have told us they want a living room experience in the air – the ability to watch free entertainment, stream their favorite shows on-demand, charge their phones and stay connected from start to finish during their travels.”

While I’ve met him on several occasions, I’ve never been to his home, and cannot say whether guests sit on Rockwell Collins Meridien seats in his living room.

American is adding satellite internet to planes on a different track than they’re retrofitting aircraft to remove seat back video, install tighter lavatories, and squeeze seats closer together. So there’s a limited window where American Airlines domestic flights may actually be better than before — today’s seat configuration but with faster internet. Next year they’ll be adding live TV to ViaSat-equipped legacy American Airlines 737s but the Project Oasis retrofit won’t yet be complete.

The service is provided by DISH. In contrast United’s is DirecTV. This was an impressive service on my first JetBlue flight 17 years ago and of course JetBlue used to own LiveTV.

A year ago American promised they’d offer free inflight texting like Delta and Alaska offer. To date they have not done so. So television is free on some planes, but texting isn’t.

American touts that today they’re also “the only U.S. airline to offer live TV on international flights.” I do not believe, however, that live TV is available for all devices on the international fleet.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. “our customers have told us they want a living room experience in the air…” I guess that explains bare feet on bulkhead walls.

  2. Lighten up a bit my friend, it’s Friday. This is great news. Live TV is awesome and AA is only one to offer it across the Atlantic and Pacific on the seatback screens which aren’t going away on their Int’l fleet. The Hi-speed internet is fantastic on AA planes. I was on an A320 with it and was able to stream CBS All Access and ESPN without issue from my phone it was awesome.

    I agree, I hope the texting comes soon, but not a huge lose. A few of my DL sky paso buddies were all excited for texting but barely use it now. You left out a very important announcement however, the A320s are getting power outlets. . . this is huge! AA will have power and hi-speed WIFI on their entire domestic mainline fleet by the end of 2020! The A319 and 737 already have power, the A320s will be rigged up by middle of 2019. With the 757 Hawaii and Super 80’s retiring in 2019 and LAA A321 with power already, that leaves the 119 or so LUS A321 to receive power and satellite in the next two years. That will make my PHL to PHX trips WAY better!

    IMO good news all around! Happy Friday all!

  3. “A living room experience” on either my tiny cell or tablet.. What a marketing Joke!! I don’t know about others but I sure don’t own a 9 inch TV, although back in the 70’s I did have a 13 inch tv.
    While I like the idea of live TV, I think they were a bit premature in announcing this as its limited to a small subset of aircraft and the domestic ones it’s on, have no power outlets.
    Another “Going For GreAAt” epic fail moment for the now worlds worst US based carrier.
    Thanks Doug for turning a once great airline into trash!

  4. Who are they pandering to? Many will not want less leg room and mini bathrooms. Getting close to saying goodbye after many years, including as Exec Plat.

  5. Over the last couple of weeks, I had two flights with the satellite internet. It was notably better. The only issue was that the entertainment part of the AA app (where you are directed) was malfunctioning, in a vicious loop.

    Live TV is a nice upgrade.

  6. Hasn’t SWA been providing this same functionality for a long time? And you don’t need to pre download an app.

  7. If you only read this blog, you’d think AA was light years behind the competition with inflight entertainment. The reality seems to be that they’re well positioning themselves. The idea that not having seat back screens is bad for domestic aircraft is silly. EVERYONE carries a screen these days. At least everyone who might be a profitable customer for an airline and who cared about IFE. And the future is obviously more screens. It’s the access to content that matters, and that seems to be what AA is focused on. Personally, I like the idea of live TV because even though I’m not a huge TV fan myself, it’s content you can’t bring with you on the plane.

  8. LOL. Thanks for the insult Austin787. Not Parker in the least, would love to see him go, but just being realistic. I live up North during the NWA/ DL merger and it took years for things to improve. US Scareways was way worse and in a few more years, the old AA service will be back and hopefully Parker retired. Maybe Anderson could come out of retirement and pump up the troops like he did a DL during the good years!

    Have a great weekend!

  9. Dud. Snooze. Nothing to see here. Useless really. Instead of spending money on things people won’t bother with (and rarely works) they should spend money on putting proper IFE in planes as Delta has done. This is just a cheap and lazy way to advertise something that in theory under perfect scenarios might work for a little while, but rarely does. It’s a cheap imitation of a real airline’s proper solution. Pathetic at best.

  10. Sun Viking, Anderson isn’t retired, he is currently trying to run Amtrak like an airline and not doing a very good job!!

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