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.
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.