This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

One of the few passenger-friendly aspects of American Airlines’ new 737 MAX — which has been panned by both passengers and flight attendants — is the free internet. AA’s newest aircraft type has offered free ViaSat satellite-based Wi-Fi to all passengers since its inaugural flight in November 2017.

Soon, the dismal 737 MAX experience will get even worse as that free internet is switched off.

American Airlines currently has three internet providers across its fleet: Gogo, Panasonic and ViaSat. Gogo is the most widespread on AA’s domestic fleet, and mostly consists of painfully slow ground-based Wi-Fi — although AA is retrofitting satellite-based service on some of its domestic fleet. Panasonic is on AA’s international fleet and usually performs decently well (my flight from London to Miami on Monday notwithstanding). ViaSat comes installed on AA’s 737 MAX aircraft, with plans already underway to retrofit ViaSat onto existing AA aircraft.

ViaSat performed pretty well on my recent AA 737 MAX first class flight from New York’s LaGuardia (LGA) to Miami (MIA), despite it being free for all passengers. That said, there were only 57 passengers onboard.

There are a couple of reasons American Airlines has been offering free internet on 737 MAX flights.

The first — and seemingly primary — reason is to appease Gogo monthly subscribers. As I confirmed with an American Airlines spokesperson after flying the 737 MAX, the airline planned on providing complimentary ViaSat internet until the airline was able to get Gogo subscribers free access to ViaSat. This is certainly an applaudable reason — but not a solution that AA uses when flying Panasonic-enabled internationally-configured aircraft on domestic routes.

The other reason for providing free internet on 737 MAX flights involves entertainment. The new aircraft infamously don’t have in-flight entertainment screens installed. Instead, passengers must “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) and stream free provided entertainment from the Wi-Fi system.

That’s annoying enough on its own, but there’s another catch: in order to stream entertainment to your phone, you need to have the American Airlines app downloaded. So far, passengers that didn’t know they needed the AA app have been able to download it from the free ViaSat internet connection. But, that solution is coming to an end soon.

True to its word, American Airlines is keeping ViaSat free only until Gogo monthly subscribers can access it at no cost. And now we have a timeline when that’ll happen. According to an internal memo:

While we’ve been offering free high speed Wi-Fi on our ViaSat equipped planes for a few months, the plan is to start charging for the service in March.

The good news is that simultaneously, the monthly Air-to-Ground (ATC) (1135 airplanes) Gogo monthly subscriptions will become valid on both Gogo and ViaSat aircraft.

This is good news for Gogo monthly subscribers, who will still be able to access the ViaSat internet for free — and soon with less competition for bandwidth. Meanwhile, this is bad news for any other passenger that gets stuck flying an AA 737 MAX. And it’s especially bad news for anyone that doesn’t know to download the AA app before takeoff to be able to stream entertainment.

For those passengers, it’s going to mean an awfully long flight with no distraction from the tightness of 30-inch pitch and 24-inch wide bathrooms.

H/T: View From The Wing

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.