Delta, Alaska, and Southwest Airlines all offer free inflight texting. In September 2017, at American’s Investor and Media Day, the airline announced they would offering free inflight texting however that never happened. Last month I asked them about it and was told they aren’t doing it after all.
American got its media for improving customer experience, and then didn’t have to actually improve customer experience.
At a Crew News question and answer session with employees this week, American Airlines President Robert Isom says they’re not even ready to evaluate offering free inflight texting.
The biggest priority for us, and I think we had a media inquiry of some sort about the status of texting, biggest priority for us it to get satellite wifi on our aircraft that’s going to be done by next summer. Once we get that in place we can sit down and talk about what kind of enhancements that we make to that. So my feeling is that we’ve got to evaluate the best use of our bandwidth at that time and we’ll do that.
Robert Isom’s position surprises me for three reasons.
- If American isn’t yet ready to evaluate free inflight texting — if the evaluation has to wait until satellite wifi is fully rolled out — why did they announce they were doing it last year?
- It’s strange that getting satellite wifi on American Airlines aircraft is considered a priority that trumps offering free inflight texting, since American’s plans for satellite wifi were already contract when they announced free inflight texting. Satellite wifi isn’t a new priority they hadn’t considered at the time.
- Suggesting that inflight texting is something they’ll have to evaluate in terms of using available bandwidth is similarly strange, since American has been promoting that their new satellite wifi removes bandwidth constraints and customers should have no problem streaming video on board. Yet texting will take up too much bandwidth? (Update: American reached out to clarify that Robert Isom was not referring to bandwidth on the plane.)
American sent out releases and garnered media attention for free inflight texting. They haven’t explained why they have changed their mind on this issue. Perhaps they should send out a new press release stating “but our fingers were crossed.”