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Earlier this year, American Airlines and Gogo showed signs of tension in their relationship as AA attempted to replace the Wi-Fi company with its direct competitor, ViaSat. American filed a lawsuit against Gogo claiming that it had found a Wi-Fi service that was faster, but they later dropped the lawsuit. And as many AA flyers know, Gogo is still equipped on AA’s aircraft.

That’s soon to change, though, as American has just selected ViaSat over Gogo for service on its new Boeing 737 MAX fleet. ViaSat’s Ka-band satellite Wi-Fi service is known for providing travelers with at-home Wi-Fi speed that allows them to stream movies, videos, TV and music, as well as the basic functions like scanning social media and checking email. For regular AA flyers who are used to Gogo, this will be a noticeable and welcome change in Wi-Fi speed.

How satellite Wi-Fi systems work. Image courtesy of OnAir.
How satellite Wi-Fi systems work. Image courtesy of OnAir.

ViaSat’s Ka-band satellite Wi-Fi is currently installed on United, JetBlue and Virgin America aircraft. JetBlue offers its Fly-Fi service free of charge, whereas Virgin America announced earlier this year that it would begin charging for its service, and United’s charges for Wi-Fi vary. There’s no indication of the cost for the service with American. The Ka-band Wi-Fi uses satellite technology, which has antennas on the top of the aircraft that face up at the sky. This differs from the air-to-ground (ATG) Gogo counterpart, which uses transmitters on the belly of the aircraft that pick up signals from land-based cell towers.

While this is welcome news for AA flyers, it looks like travelers might not be able to take advantage of the improved Wi-Fi speeds for a while, as the first 737 MAX with this new addition isn’t scheduled to go into service until September 2017. However, it’s a definite improvement to look forward to. In the meantime, if you’re planning on flying AA between now and then with Gogo’s Wi-Fi, don’t forget there are cards that offer the service for free, such as the Platinum Card® from American Express, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Points Guy Assessment:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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