Remove the asterisk: AA’s five disconnected aircraft to get satellite-based Wi-Fi

Nov 14, 2019

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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

In just under two years, American Airlines completed a remarkable project: installing high-speed satellite-based Wi-Fi on over 700 aircraft. When that project finished in June 2019, over 900 American Airlines aircraft featured satellite-based Wi-Fi — more than any other airline.

Yet, this project still left five AA mainline aircraft without any Wi-Fi connection at all. But, that’s about to change. As initially reported by View From The Wing and confirmed by TPG, American Airlines will install Gogo 2Ku Wi-Fi on its last five mainline aircraft that don’t currently have Wi-Fi.

Since completing its Wi-Fi retrofit project in June, American Airlines has needed a qualifier when boasting about its Wi-Fi prowess. Instead of its entire fleet having satellite-based Wi-Fi, AA has had to settle for saying that its “entire long-term mainline” fleet has satellite-based Wi-Fi.

That “long-term” qualifier is understandable when you dig into the numbers. At the time the project ended, there were 48 mainline aircraft with ground-based Gogo Wi-Fi. Of those, 31 have since been retired, and the other 17 Embraer E190 aircraft are currently slated for retirement by the end of 2020. So, it’s understandable that AA wouldn’t want to perform expensive Wi-Fi retrofits on these aircraft right before they’re retired.

RELATED: To the ‘boneyard’: Sending the American Airlines MD-80 into retirement

However, in a mainline fleet now almost uniformly equipped with satellite-based Wi-Fi, there’s a small sub-fleet of aircraft that currently are completely disconnected. AA currently has 34 Boeing 757 aircraft — which are split into two sub-fleets: 24 for international routes and 10 for Hawaii routes. In the Hawaii sub-fleet, five aircraft (N202UW, N206UW, N207UW, N938UW and N939UW) don’t have any Wi-Fi connection.

As of January 2019, AA’s fleet plan called for all 10 of these Hawaii 757s to be retired. So, understandably, AA pulled the plug on retrofitting the remaining five aircraft that hadn’t yet gone in for a Wi-Fi installation.

Now, the plan has changed. As of the late-October 2019 fleet update, American Airlines plans to keep all 34 of its Boeing 757s through the end of 2020 before reducing the fleet to 24 by the end of 2021. Presumably, that means the 10 aircraft in the Hawaii sub-fleet will be retired in 2021:

This change means that the Hawaii 757s will be in AA’s fleet for at least another year — and plans could be changed to keep them around even longer. It seems that this is a little too long for American Airlines to have the “asterisk” about almost all of its mainline fleet having satellite-based Wi-Fi. So, American Airlines will soon be retrofitting these five remaining 757s with Gogo 2Ku routers. The project will start soon and is expected to be completed in early 2020.

Featured image courtesy of American Airlines

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.