Airlines are continually pairing up with entertainment and technology companies to keep flyers busy. And this is one of the best such partnerships we've seen yet.
Starting Friday, American Airlines flyers can connect to WiFi free and use Apple Music, the tech giant's streaming audio platform. This new feature is only available on planes with ViaSat high-speed internet. Almost two-thirds of its fleet has ViaSat onboard, and the rest should be installed by mid-2019, the airline announced Wednesday.
While connecting to WiFi to stream music will be free, you'll still need an Apple Music subscription to listen in. Those memberships cost $9.99 a month, though first-time users can get a three-month trial for free.
“For most travelers, having music to listen to on the plane is just as important as anything they pack in their suitcases,” said Oliver Schusser, Vice President of Apple Music. “With the addition of Apple Music on American flights, we are excited that customers can now enjoy their music in even more places.
These partnerships can be lucrative for airlines. But more importantly, it comes at a time when American – along with United – is moving away from providing passengers with seatback entertainment screens.
Both major airlines went screenless on their newest domestic planes, the Boeing 737MAX. Instead, both airlines have a streaming portal that passengers can access for free on their own devices – from increasingly smaller seats.
Meanwhile, Delta has doubled down on keeping passengers entertained. Its newest aircraft – the Airbus A220, launching in the next week or so – sports entertainment screens at every seat. And the airline is going through its fleet to retrofit even older planes with its newest entertainment systems.
So perhaps a partnership with Apple Music is designed to fill the gap at American. While it falls far short of a personal TV screen, it's a creative move and a nice touch. Don't like Apple Music? Try this free music making software.
Kudos to American Airlines for thinking outside the box by offering passengers free music streaming via Apple Music. Look for it on your next AA flight starting Friday.