In time for holiday travel , American Airlines will begin offering free inflight messaging to passengers via services like Facebook Messenger and Messenger Kids. The approximately four-month trial period will be available to passengers flying aircraft equipped with ViaSat high-speed WiFi.
If passengers show enough interest and the trial is successful, the airline hopes to make it a permanent benefit, according to an airline spokesperson.
Free inflight entertainment and messaging
To stay connected inflight, passengers do not need a credit card, and there is no need to sign up for any new service. All they need is the Facebook Messenger or Messenger Kids app downloaded on a mobile device. Once in the air, they can connect to the inflight wireless Internet signal and open the app to message friends and family.
For now, the trial period just covers these two Facebook apps; WhatsApp and iMessage are not part of the offering.
More than 80 percent of the American Airlines' narrow-body fleet uses the ViaSat WiFi system. This includes some Airbus A319 and A321 aircraft as well as the A321T. It also includes its Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737MAX aircraft.
The American Airlines app also streams complimentary movies, TV programs, and music as well; these entertainment options are also available when connecting to the wireless Internet signal via a mobile device or laptop.
New priority boarding for all AAdvantage members
This inflight connectivity upgrade is in addition to a recent announcement that all American Airlines AAdvantage members, regardless of elite status, will receive at least Group 6 boarding on flights. Elite status and premium cabin fliers will continue to receive their associated higher boarding category.
This long-term change is a positive for passengers that book basic economy fares (the most restricted fare type typically assigned Group 9 boarding, the last to board the aircraft).
As an incentive for joining the airline's loyalty program, all members are now given at least Group 6 boarding allowing additional time to find space for carry-on bags during boarding. Groups 7-9 will be assigned to passengers without an AAdvantage membership based on their seat assignment.
This change will give all AAdvantage members priority over non-members when general boarding is called and is intended to encourage new memberships. It does not impede on or take away from the priority boarding perks of other travelers including those that have co-branded American Airlines credit cards. It simply gives a bonus to those that join the American frequent flier program over those that do not. Basic economy fliers stand to benefit the most.
If you're flying for the holidays , it could be worthwhile to sign up for the airline's loyalty program to benefit from this earlier boarding perk as well as earn miles for flights.
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