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As part of an attempt to improve connectivity on smaller aircraft, American Airlines is installing high-speed Wi-Fi in its regional aircraft, which have long struggled with sluggish service.

American Airlines is planning to improve its in-flight Wi-Fi access on regional jets, allowing passengers to easily check emails, browse the internet or stream videos.

The carrier said Thursday it will install high-speed Wi-Fi on around 500 regional aircraft starting next year, as part of an expansion of its relationship with satellite services provider Intelsat.

While American already has high-speed Wi-Fi available on 900 mainline aircraft, the carrier said it wanted to ensure its customers had a “consistent and connected inflight experience” on its regional aircraft, with the goal of increasing the total number of satellite-connected aircraft to more than 1,400. 

The move to increase Wi-Fi access closely mirrors Delta Air Lines’ initiative to bring streaming capabilities to its regional fleet, beginning in mid-2024. 

As carriers increasingly improve Wi-Fi across their fleets, reliable Wi-Fi access on regional jets has long been an issue for airlines. Installing high-speed Wi-Fi on smaller regional jets has posed a challenge for airlines primarily because of the size and weight of the antennas needed to connect aircraft to satellite networks. 

Instead, airlines have long relied on slower air-to-ground networks like Gogo Business Aviation — which Intelsat acquired for $400 million in 2020 — for their regional fleets. However, such networks are only active when 10,000 feet above ground. 

American said the installation will allow its regional aircraft to have the same Wi-Fi speeds as its mainline fleet. 

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Tags: american airlines, business travel, delta air lines, inflight Wi-Fi, paxex

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