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American trials free Wi-Fi, makes 3 exciting catering changes

April 13, 2022
4 min read
American trials free Wi-Fi, makes 3 exciting catering changes
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American Airlines is making some flyer-friendly changes to the inflight experience.

The first is an inflight Wi-Fi trial that'll offer a complimentary time-based internet package on most Viasat-equipped flights. In exchange for watching a short advertisement, you'll receive 15 or 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi, depending on the length of your flight. The trial is being launched in partnership with Viasat, which outfits the majority of American's domestic fleet with high-speed Wi-Fi.

According to American, the trial "will drive awareness for the inflight portal, aainflight.com, and help American better understand what inflight experiences are most meaningful to customers."

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The initiative will run from April 13 through May 25, a carrier spokesperson confirmed to TPG.

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Hopefully, this will be American's first move in making Wi-Fi more accessible. Right now, the carrier charges a variable amount for full-flight passes that can go as high as $35 on the longest domestic transcon flights.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Meanwhile, American's two biggest competitors have recently introduced more affordable fixed Wi-Fi pricing ($5 on Delta and $8 on United), which is heating up the competition for connectivity. Alaska Airlines last week announced that it'll match the $8 price point that United (and Southwest) offer.

Before the pandemic, there were reports that American was considering offering free onboard internet access, but there hasn’t been any official confirmation from the carrier. (The carrier also never followed through on its promise for free inflight messaging.) Perhaps this trial is the first step in that direction.

In addition to trialing ad-sponsored internet access, the carrier is making three exciting updates to its inflight catering beginning on April 13.

The first is a revamped dining experience for those flying in the premium cabin on domestic flights longer than 2,200 miles. American will now offer a printed menu on these flights, allowing travelers to customize their choice of appetizer, salad, entree and dessert.

The carrier will now serve these meals in three separate courses, which will emulate the experience that flyers typically experience in long-haul business class.

Secondly, the option to preorder meals in domestic first class also restarts on April 13. Anyone with an upcoming reservation for a flight longer than 900 miles can reserve their preferred entree starting 30 days and up to 24 hours before the flight. The choice will include one of the meal options that'll be offered on board. Special meals will be returning to domestic flights in May, according to a carrier spokesperson.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Finally, American is bringing back the second beverage service on domestic flights over 1,500 miles on April 13. This second service was scrapped in early 2022 at the urging of the APFA flight attendant union “to limit customer touchpoints.”

For the first quarter of this year, those traveling with American on long domestic routes, say from New York to Los Angeles or from Miami to Phoenix, were responsible for their own hydration after the single service that flight attendants complete after takeoff (During the pause, flyers could visit the galley to request an additional drink.)

The latest catering updates come as the airline has restarted serving hot, plated meals in first class throughout the domestic route network. The meals have received positive reviews from seasoned travelers, especially compared to what American was serving during the pandemic.

Separately, the Fort Worth-based carrier will offer beer, wine and spirits for purchase in the coach cabin on flights 250 miles and longer beginning on April 18.

At the same time, the airline will also phase in its buy-on-board snack offering for flights over 1,500 miles. Packaged items like chips and almonds will range from $4 to $6 each.

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

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