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American Is Finally Making This In-Flight Perk Free, Starting Now

The airline announced the service would remain complimentary through most of next month.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the airline industry, traveling by plane has always had its fair share of headaches. But whether it's a complimentary snack and a drink, the chance to watch a movie, or allowing a free checked bag, free treats and services from carriers can go a long way in winning over and keeping loyal customers. Now, American Airlines has announced it will be offering its passengers a special new in-flight perk. Read on to see what you can expect the next time you jet off.

RELATED: Delta Just Made This Permanent Change for All Passengers, Starting Now.

American Airlines is offering passengers free in-flight WiFi until May 25.

man working on laptop on airplane

If you were looking to get on top of some emails during your next trip, you might be in luck: Beginning April 13, American Airlines will be offering passengers free in-flight WiFi. The major carrier will provide the complimentary service over several weeks until May 25.

The free service will be available to passengers aboard the airline's narrow-bodied planes.

Business woman using smart phone at plane

According to the announcement, passengers flying aboard narrowbody aircraft in American's fleet will have access to the newly installed Viasat network. In addition, connected travelers will have access to the airline's streaming entertainment library of movies and TV shows on their personal devices—a notable fact given that narrowbody planes aren't outfitted with the seatback entertainment systems found on larger vessels, travel news outlet Simple Flying reports.

Customers will be granted free WiFi access for a limited session once they've watched an advertisement. However, it's unclear how long the session will be.

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Other airlines are considering free in-flight WiFi to passengers—while one already does.

Delta Airplanes sit in a row at Kansas City International Airport

While the airline's latest passenger perk is a courteous gesture, the move also comes as the carrier hopes to figure out the newly installed Viasat system and help pinpoint what travelers will actually want from it. So far, JetBlue has installed the new WiFi connection hardware in their fleets and has offered free internet to passengers on flights for years. Delta is currently upgrading its fleet with Viasat as it transitions away from wireless provider Gogo, with executives saying they aim to offer the same complimentary WiFi to passengers at some point, Simple Flying reports.

Some experts point out that such changes could signal a significant shift in the industry that makes complimentary onboard internet the norm. "When Delta does eventually offer free WiFi, this will no doubt be something that other major carriers will have to match," Ben Schlappig, founder of travel news outlet One Mile at a Time, writes. "I would guess that American is anticipating that this time may come sooner rather than later, and the airline is running this trial as a test. Presumably, American wants to see what passenger behavior is like when WiFi is free—how many people use WiFi, how much do they use it, and how much does it differ from flight to flight."

American also recently brought back in-flight espresso service for premium cabins.

woman holding coffee cup on plane

Besides free WiFi, some travelers looking for a pick-me-up will be able to take advantage of another recent change made by American Airlines. The carrier just reintroduced in-flight espresso service for passengers for the first time since dropping the offering in the spring of last year, travel blog View From the Wing reports. The restored service now means that travelers flying in premium cabins will have the option to order espresso-based drinks while in the sky, including cappuccinos and lattes. Specifically, machines capable of making the beverages are installed on Airbus A321T, Boeing 777-300ER, and Boeing 787 planes in American's fleet.

Some experts argued that the return of the passenger perk was a small but appreciated step towards normalcy. "Obviously, they weren't the best espresso or cappuccino beverages, but they were significantly better than airplane coffee," Schlappig wrote in a post noting the service change.

RELATED: United Is Finally Bringing Back This Service for Travelers, as of April 14.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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