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U.S. Airlines with Free Wi-Fi: Sorry, American, but the Grand Total Is Still at 1

U.S. airlines always seem to be in perfect sync when it comes to raising fees, but when a carrier introduces a service passengers might actually like, competitors are awfully slow to follow. 

A case in point: JetBlue remains the only U.S. airline that offers free high-speed Wi-Fi at every seat on every plane. 

As you might have seen around the internet, American Airlines recently put out a news release announcing free Wi-Fi on all domestic flights aboard narrowbody aircraft equipped with Viasat internet service. 

But as blogger Ben Schlappig points out at One Mile at a Time, American Airlines has offered ad-sponsored free Wi-Fi for a limited-time session on those planes since 2022. 

Frommer’s reached out to American Airlines for clarification, and a press rep confirmed that start date for the service, which remains the same as it has been for the last 2 years or so: Passengers who connect to the carrier’s in-flight Wi-Fi portal have the option to get about 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi, provided they watch a short video ad beforehand. 

For ad-free in-flight Wi-Fi, you’ll still need to upgrade to one of American’s paid options, which currently start at $10 for pay-as-you-fly service or $50 for a monthly subscription. 

So the “free Wi-Fi option” mentioned in American’s press release is really more like a free Wi-Fi sample, and the carrier’s announcement is really more like a re-announcement of 2-year-old news. 

What does appear to be new is that American will soon let members of the AAdvantage loyalty program redeem miles for Wi-Fi during flights—though, as Schlappig again astutely notes, that development would seem to indicate the airline is even less inclined to give Wi-Fi away for free. 

American also says it has enhanced its video streaming capability and entertainment options to make logging on worth your while. We’ll believe that when we see it. The speed and reliability of in-flight Wi-Fi remain hit-or-miss across the aviation industry, depending on the age of the aircraft, the quality of the technology, and other factors.

Last year Delta Air Lines added free Wi-Fi on most domestic flights, but not on international ones—though the carrier promises to roll the service out to global routes by the end of 2024. 

That leaves JetBlue as the only U.S. carrier with free, unfettered in-flight Wi-Fi, full stop. 

When American hiked up checked baggage fees last month, on the other hand, it only took about 2 weeks for nearly all the other U.S. airlines to do the same.