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American Airlines

Overview - American Airlines


On the morning of April 15, 1926, a young aviator named Charles A. Lindbergh stowed a bag of mail in his little DH-4 biplane and took off from Chicago (CHI) for St. Louis (STL). Later that day, he and two other pilots flew three plane loads of mail from St. Louis to Chicago.

At the time, Lindbergh was chief pilot of Robertson Aircraft Corporation of Missouri, which was the second aviation company to hold a U.S. airmail contract. It was one of scores of companies that eventually consolidated to form the modern-day American Airlines.

The consolidation began in 1929, when The Aviation Corporation was formed to acquire young aviation companies, including Robertson. In 1930, The Aviation Corporation's airline subsidiaries were incorporated into American Airways, Inc. In 1934, American Airways became American Airlines, Inc.

On June 25, 1936, American was the first airline to fly the Douglas DC-3 in commercial service. By the end of the decade, American was the nation's number one domestic air carrier in terms of revenue passenger miles. On Feb. 16, 1937, American carried its one-millionth passenger.

From 1945 to 1950, American operated American Overseas Airlines (AOA), a trans-Atlantic division, which served a number of European countries. This was American's first European service. AOA was formed as a result of a merger between the international division of American and a company called American Export Airlines. AOA merged with Pan American World Airways in 1950.

In 1948, American introduced the Family Fare Plan to enable families to travel together at reduced rates. It also introduced scheduled coach service, an economical and comfortable alternative to first class travel.

In 1953, American pioneered nonstop transcontinental service in both directions across the United States with the Douglas DC-7.

On Jan. 25, 1959, American became the first airline to offer coast-to-coast jet service with the Boeing 707. Also in Jan. 1959, American introduced the Lockheed Electra, the first U.S. designed turboprop airplane. American continued into the jet age with the introduction of the turbofan engine in 1961, another industry first for American, and with the Convair 990 in 1962, also powered by fan-jets.

American added other jets throughout the 1960s and 70s, including the Boeing 727 (1964) and the Boeing 747 (1966), as the older aircraft were retired. American's last piston airplane flight was operated with a DC-6 in Dec. 1966. In 1968, American was the first to order the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, which made its first scheduled flight in Aug. 1971.

American gained its first Caribbean routes through a merger with Trans Caribbean Airways in 1970. It expanded those routes throughout the early 70s, and acquired other Caribbean routes in 1975 from Pan American World Airways Inc.

In 1974, American introduced One-Stop-Automated Check-in. American's first Boeing 747 freighter, capable of carrying 221,000 pounds of cargo, went into service in November.

On April 24, 1977, American introduced the most popular fare in its history, the Super Saver. Initially offering discount fares from New York (NYC) and California, Super Saver was expanded to all of American's routes in March 1978 and later to Mexico and Canada.

With fuel costs soaring, American accelerated the retirement of the Boeing 707 fleet in 1980. By August 1981, American had retired all its Boeing 707s aircraft, including their freighters.

In 1981, American introduced the AADVANTAGE travel awards program, a revolutionary marketing program to reward frequent fliers. Also that year it unveiled 'AAirpass', a concept that guaranteed fixed personal and business air travel costs with five-year to lifetime range of options.

On June 11, 1981, American established its Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) hub. Later American added new cities and new routes to strengthen its hub-and-spoke networks.

Early 1982 brought American its first 767, its 500 millionth passenger and its Chicago (ORD) hub.

In April 1982, it began interchange service with Alaska Airlines, linking Anchorage (ANC) and Fairbanks (FAI) with Houston (HOU) and DFW via Seattle with 727s. American also returned to Europe with service between London's Gatwick Airport (LGW) and DFW in May 1982.

On May 19, 1982, stockholders approved a plan of reorganization and a new holding company was formed, AMR Corporation, which became the parent company of American Airlines, Inc.

In 1983, American added the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (Super 80) and announced an agreement with Pan American World Airways to exchange Boeing 747s for Pan Am's McDonnell Douglas DC-10s.

In 1984, American introduced the American Eagle system, a network of regional airlines offering high-level service from small communities to large cities through connections to and from American Airlines.

In the fall of 1984, American retired its 747 cargo freighter fleet and focused on smaller shipments carried in the bellies of its passenger aircraft.

Ultimate Super Saver fares were introduced in 1985, offering American passengers up to 70 percent discounts and competition for the low-service, cut-rate carriers which had sprung up in the wake of deregulation. American also unveiled its Senior SAAVers Club, which offered discounts to senior citizens.

American opened its Nashville (BNA) hub in April 1986 and its San Juan (SJU) hub in November. Also in 1986, American employees topped 50,000 for the first time and American sold its Sky Chefs subsidiary and completed the acquisition of Air California (Air Cal).

In 1988, American acquired the Airbus A300-600ER to serve its Caribbean markets from locations on the mainland and in 1989, American put its first Boeing 757 into service. 1988 also saw the opening of American's reservations office in Raleigh/Durham, N.C (RDU).

Also in 1989, American opened its seventh hub in Miami (MIA) on Sept. 13. American also began construction on its second major maintenance base at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth. Ground was also broken in Fort Worth for a 750,000-square-foot expansion of AMR's corporate headquarters complex.

Also in 1990, American's premiere international service, International Flagship Service, was introduced. A San Juan reservations center opened and American expanded its Latin American service with routes acquired from Eastern Airlines, with Miami as the focal point of the expansion.

In 1991, American flew its billionth passenger, expanded its European routes, opened its western reservations office in Tucson, and took delivery of its first McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and Fokker 100 aircraft.

In 1992, American introduced Value Pricing. The plan was designed to make fares simple, sensible and fair. It offered customers substantially greater travel flexibility, and was a major revision to American's fare structure. Intense price competition made the Value Plan unfeasible, however, and American was forced to abandon it.

Also in 1992, American introduced American Flagship Service, a premium three-class transcontinental service for domestic travellers, and also continued its expansion in the European market with flights to Berlin (BER) and Paris (PAR).

In May 1994, American added additional routes to London (LON) to become the airline with more service to Britain than any other U.S. airline. Also in 1994, American launched its first non-smoking transatlantic flight.

In 1995, American announced its World Wide Web site.

In Sept. 1996, American officially launched AAccess ticketless travel and AAccess boarding. Also in 1996, American added inflight laptop computer capabilities to its aircraft, and announced that it would equip certain aircraft with defibrillators.

In 1997, all American Airlines flights became non-smoking. Also, American introduced "stickerless" upgrades and became the first airline to expand ticketless travel to all transatlantic flights. Also in 1997, American introduced the College SAAver program.

In 1998, American announced its acquisition of Reno Air and American Eagle's acquisition of Business Express. American Eagle completed its acquisition of Business Express in March of 1999, and Reno Air was fully integrated on August 31, 1999.

On Sept. 21, 1998, American and four other airlines announced a new customer-driven global alliance - oneworldTM - launching a multi-million dollar program designed to raise the standard of global air travel. The new alliance took off on Feb. 1, 1999.

In 1999, American also introduced the Boeing 777 and the 737-800 and completed the installation of defibrillators on all its aircraft. Also, American became the first airline to offer DVD in-flight video players on scheduled flights.

Also in 1999, American began an expansion of its West Coast service, and American Eagle opened a new terminal in Los Angeles (LAX) and took delivery of its first 37-seat Embraer ERJ-135.

In February 2000, American announced More Room Throughout Coach, removing an average of two rows on every aircraft to add legroom throughout the entire coach cabin. American later decided to expand legroom in business class.

In 2000, American announced plans to renovate Terminal B at Boston's Logan Airport (BOS) and also announced the addition of fully flat Flagship Suite seating for its Boeing 777. Also, American named Alliance as the 'maintenance home' for its 777 fleet.

In January 2001, American's first aircraft featuring bigger overhead storage bins took to the skies. Also, American announced that it had agreed to purchase substantially all the assets of Trans World Airlines, Inc.

In April 2001, American Airlines completed acquisition of TWA's assets. At about the same time, American opened a new Admirals Club and Lounge facilities at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW) in memory of former Special Services employee Walter Henry Hagan.

In 2001, American Eagle accepted delivery of 15 44-seat regional jets (ERJ-140) manufactured by Embraer of Brazil. American also announced plans to accelerate retirement of 36 aircraft -- 19 DC-9s, 12 Boeing 727s, 4 MD-11s and one Fokker 100.

In October 2001, American announced that it will accelerate construction of its new $1.3 billion terminal at New York's JFK Airport, advancing the completion date nine months to September 2006.

In April 2002, American began daily nonstop Boeing 777 service between New York JFK and Tokyo (TYO), giving AA four U.S. gateways to Japan.

On April 30, 2002, American operated its final Boeing 727 passenger flight, marking the retirement of an airline industry workhorse by its largest operator. AA began flying the 727 in 1964 and was among the first to operate the airplane. At its peak, AA operated 182 Boeing 727s.

On Aug. 1, 2002, American officially dedicated its $300 million improvement project at Los Angeles International Airport’s Terminal 4, culminating four years of work on what was the largest project of its type ever undertaken by a single carrier at LAX.

In a move to make popular Web fares more widely available to consumers while reducing its total distribution costs, American on Sept. 25, 2002, announced its innovative EveryFare program. With EveryFare, AA provides traditional travel agents in the U.S. and Canada the option to access and sell its very low Web fares, previously offered only via American’s own Web site,, and select low-cost distribution channels. In exchange, travel agents provide AA with long-term distribution cost savings through a creative cost-sharing arrangement.

In July 2005, American opened the first phase of its new 1.5-million-square-foot terminal at New York’s Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

In October 2005, American began operating from the new 2.1-million-square-foot International Terminal D at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

On Nov. 14, 2005, American launched daily nonstop service between Chicago (ORD) and Delhi, India (DEL), flying the 7,500 miles – AA’s longest nonstop route – with Boeing 777 aircraft.

In 2006, American celebrated the 25th anniversary of its AAdvantage program – the world’s first frequent flyer program that revolutionized the airline industry and set the standard for similar initiatives in many other businesses. AAdvantage began with 300,000 members. Today, it has more than 50 million members.

On April 2, 2006, American launched its first-ever service to China by inaugurating a daily nonstop Boeing 777 flight between Chicago and Shanghai (SHA).

On June 11, 2006, American celebrated 35 years of service to Puerto Rico, now the focal point of its Caribbean route network.

On Jan. 17, 2007, American relocated to Terminal 2 at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT). It was a move that significantly improved convenience for travellers to and from Japan by housing American and four of its fellow oneworld Alliance airlines in the same Narita facility.

In May, 2007, American moved its international flights service at New York’s Kennedy International Airport into Concourse B of its new $1.3 billion JFK terminal. The new terminal is near a new U.S. Customs and Immigration facility. The move set the stage for improving the overall travel experience for passengers arriving into and departing from the JFK gateway.

On May 19, 2007, American celebrated the 25th anniversary of its nonstop service between Dallas/Fort Worth and London. An American Boeing 747 operated the first DFW-London Gatwick trip on May 19, 1982.

American announced plans to begin daily nonstop service between Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Buenos Aires, Argentina (BUE), effective Dec. 13, 2007.

In September, 2007, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded American the tentative right to begin service between Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Beijing, China (BJS), effective March 25, 2009. American already flies daily between Chicago O’Hare and Shanghai, China.

In September, 2007, American marked its 65th anniversary of service to Mexico. The airline began serving Mexico on Sept. 6, 1942. Today, American and its regional affiliate, American Eagle, jointly offer more than 360 weekly flights between Mexico and the U.S. and serve 14 Mexican cities from five of their largest hubs.

In October, 2007, American announced that it will begin nonstop service between Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Moscow, Russia (MOW), on June 2, 2009.

On Oct. 26, 2007, American launched nonstop Boeing 767-300 service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and London’s Stansted Airport (STN).

In November, 2007, AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines, announced that it plans to divest American Eagle, its wholly owned regional carrier. The company said it expects to complete the divestiture in 2008, but that the form of the divestiture is still under study.

In January 2008, employees at American’s Kansas City (MKC) maintenance base completed the first aircraft installation of the Aircell Internet broadband connectivity solution. American is the first U.S. airline to offer the broadband solution. AA plans to install and test the technology in 2008 on all 15 of its Boeing 767-200 aircraft that primarily fly transcontinental routes.

In January 2008, American introduced a mobile version of that allows customers to access many of the helpful features of via a Web-enabled cell phone or other Web-enabled device. With the mobile feature, customers can conveniently log on to wherever their cell phone or PDA works – in the middle of a city or miles out in the country, in the United States or overseas – without the need for a desktop or laptop computer.

On May 1, 2008, American celebrated the 10th anniversary of its nonstop service between Chicago (CHI) and Tokyo (TYO). AA opened the route on May 1, 1998.

On June 2, 2008, American launched its first-ever service between the U.S. and Russia with a daily nonstop Boeing 777 flight between Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow (DME). AA became the first U.S. carrier to fly directly from Chicago to Domodedovo Airport.

In June 2008, American celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Chefs’ Conclave, a program that enlists the expertise of prominent and well-respected chefs to help AA craft the direction of its in-flight food service. American was the first airline to gather such culinary expertise when the Chefs’ Conclave was founded in 1988. The stars of today’s Conclave are Nancy Brussat of Convito Cafe’ & Market, Dean Fearing of Fearing’s, and Stephan Pyles of Stephan Pyles.

In August 2008, American announced it will take delivery of another six Boeing 737-800 aircraft in 2010, bringing the total of 737-800s to be delivered to American in 2009-2010 to 76 aircraft. AA also has firm commitments made previously for 11 737s in 2013. The announcement was another step in American’s fleet renewal plan designed to replace its MD-80 fleet with more fuel-efficient 737 aircraft while also lessening AA’s impact on the environment and continuing its investment in products and services for the benefit of customers.

In August 2008, American became the first airline to offer full in-flight internet in the U.S. when it launched the mobile broadband service, Gogo provided by Aircell, on its entire fleet of Boeing 767-200 aircraft.

In late September 2008, American was preparing for the introduction of PriorityAAcess privileges for its top customers. PriorityAAccess is an array of enhancements designed to make the airport process and overall travel experience more convenient. It is aimed at American’s AAdvantage elite status members, First and Business Class travellers, AAirpass customers, and passengers traveling on full-fare Economy Class tickets.

On Oct. 15, 2008, American announced that it will enter a purchase agreement with Boeing to acquire 42 fuel-efficient Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, with rights to acquire up to 58 additional 787 aircraft. The initial 42 Boeing 787-9 aircraft is scheduled for delivery beginning in September 2012 and ending in 2018. The 58 additional 787 aircraft may be scheduled for delivery beginning in 2015 and ending in 2020.

On Nov. 13, 2008, American introduced mobile boarding passes at selected airports for use with mobile phones or PDAs. The service gives customers at select airports the choice to receive their boarding passes electronically on their mobile phones or PDAs.

In December, 2008, American announced that it will begin daily nonstop service between Dallas/Fort Worth and Madrid, Spain, on May 1, 2009. Madrid (MAD) will be American and American Eagle’s 34th international destination at the DFW hub.

In February, 2009, American announced that its popular “Search by Price & Schedule” option on the Web site is now available in Spanish on en Español.

On Feb. 3, 2009, American opened a new Admirals Club lounge at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)as the last stage of AA’s relocation into Terminal B at Dulles.

In February, 2009, American enhanced its 'Remember Me' speech-recognition technology, making it more convenient than ever for customers who call to get departure gate, flight times and other information about upcoming trips.

In February, 2009, the oneworld global alliance that includes American Airlines as a founding member marked its 10th anniversary.

On Feb. 18, 2009, American, which already offered more flights to Brazil than any other U.S. airline, made it even more convenient for travellers to see more of South America’s largest country by entering into an interline ticket and baggage agreement with GOL, the fastest growing airline in Brazil and that country’s low-cost leader.

In March 2009, American and Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) announced the first revenue flight of a Boeing 767-300ER with APB’s Blended Winglets(TM). The winglets improved fuel efficiency -- up to 500,000 gallons of fuel annually depending on miles flown, and resulted in a reduction of up to 277,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually, according to APB.

On March 31, 2009, American announced the expansion of Gogo Inflight Internet on more than 300 domestic aircraft. American planned to install the Aircell system on its domestic MD-80 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft fleets, beginning with 150 MD-80 aircraft in 2009. The expansion was in addition to the 15 of American’s Boeing 767-200 aircraft which had the service.

On April 13, 2009, American welcomed two Boeing 737-800 aircraft into its fleet on the eve of their maiden passenger flights. The new airplanes, which went into service April 14, were the first of the company’s new 737s that are part of an ongoing fleet renewal plan to replace its MD80 fleet

On April 27, 2009, American rolled out a Boeing 777 aircraft sporting a special oneworld Alliance exterior paint design – the first of four aircraft to receive such treatment – as a way to increase awareness of the 10-member alliance. The new livery was also part of the celebration of oneworld’s 10th anniversary in 2009.

On May 1, 2009, American launched daily nonstop service from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Madrid, Spain (MAD). Madrid was the 34th international destination served by American and American Eagle from its Dallas/Fort Worth hub.

Also in May 2009, American, which invented the frequent flyer program when it launched the AAdvantage program nearly three decades ago, further revolutionized award travel by introducing 'One-Way Flex Awards.' One-Way Flex Awards offered a whole new approach to frequent flyer award travel, creating even greater value for AAdvantage members.

On July 8, 2009, American, which offers more flights to Brazil than any other U.S. airline, entered into a frequent flyer agreement with GOL Airlines to provide benefits to members of both American’s AAdvantage and GOL’s Smiles programs.

On July 9, 2009, American Airlines and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), announced a new codeshare agreement which paved the way for closer commercial cooperation between the two airlines (subject to government approval).

On July 13, 2009, American introduced the new Notification Center which enabled customers to set their flight status notification preferences just one time and then automatically receive messages for all their future flights, instead of having to request notifications for each different flight.

On July 31, 2009, American announced the addition of a new “fare-finding” feature to its Travel Bag application within Facebook, the popular networking platform.

In October 2009, American Airlines announced its participation in the Paramount Pictures film 'Up in the Air' by Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman and starring Oscar winner George Clooney. The film told the story of a business traveller whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he was on the cusp of reaching 10 million frequent-flyer miles and after he met the frequent-traveller woman of his dreams.

On Feb. 1, American Airlines went cashless onboard all flights.

On Feb. 25, 2010, American Eagle announced it would begin First Class service on all of its CRJ-700 jets.

On March 10, 2010, American Airlines AAdvantage® members received the ability to redeem AAdvantage miles for flights on GOL, one of South America’s largest airlines.

On March 11, 2010, American expanded its mobile boarding pass program to customers departing on domestic flights from 19 additional airports for a total of 27 airports with the program.

On May 7, 2010, American received authority from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to operate daily, year-round scheduled service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Tokyo International Airport at Haneda (HND), starting Oct. 1, 2010.

On May 25, 2010, American launched service between Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Beijing Capital International Airport (BJS), one of the world’s busiest airports.

In May 2010, American introduced the AAdvantage Mileage MultiplierSM product. Available via airport Self-Service Check-In machines throughout the U.S., the new Mileage Multiplier option enabled AAdvantage members to increase their mileage balance faster by purchasing extra AAdvantage bonus miles with every eligible flight.

On June 22, 2010, American announced that airport employees using the airline’s mobile YADA device – which stands for Your Assistance Delivered Anywhere – were even better equipped to serve customers anywhere in the airport with the additional ability to print boarding passes. The mobile YADA device enabled airport employees to provide real-time information on flights, gates, standby lists, print bag tags and boarding passes, and even pull up maps of other airports.

On June 24, 2010, American was awarded by the United States Department of Transportation rights to fly 11 new flights per week between the United States and Brazil beginning Nov. 18.

In June 2010, American announced its original 76 Boeing 737-800s were being updated to match the customer benefits and amenities featured on its newly-delivered 737-800 aircraft.

On June 30, 2010, American expanded its mobile boarding pass program to four additional airports for a total of 42 airports. London Heathrow (LHR) was the first international airport to receive the program.

On July 6, 2010, American was awarded final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to operate daily, year-round, nonstop service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Tokyo International Airport at Haneda (HND), two of the world’s principal financial centers.

In July 2010, American Airlines and JetBlue Airways launched their partnership to offer customers convenient connections and more travel options to and from New York (NYC) and Boston (BOS). The two companies agreed to begin a frequent flyer relationship later in 2010.

On July 21, 2010, American Airlines announced an order for 35 additional Next-Generation Boeing 737-800s, to be delivered in 2011 and 2012.The 35 737s will be in addition to the 84 new 737s that began entering American’s fleet in April 2009, when the Company launched its replacement plan for its MD80 narrowbody fleet. The 737s are 35 percent more fuel-efficient on a seat-mile basis than the MD80 aircraft that they are replacing – an average savings of 800,000 gallons of fuel per aircraft per year.

In July 2010, American released the first version of its iPhone application. The free app for iPhone and iPod Touch offered customers a new way to stay connected with the airline while they were traveling.

On July 27, 2010, American Airlines announced that it had signed an agreement with Air Berlin outlining a comprehensive codeshare and frequent flyer relationship that allowed customers of each airline to book and travel on the other’s network and earn frequent flyer miles as well.

In August 2010, American introduced 'Express Seats' under its 'Your Choice' line of products and services. Express Seats allowed travellers to purchase seats in the first few rows of Coach, including bulkhead seats in that cabin. Additionally, customers who purchased an Express Seat were able to board with Group 1 of General Boarding for their flight, providing them the convenience of being among the first Coach customers on and off the plane.