American Airlines and American Eagle operate out of 10 hubs, with Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) being its largest. The airline handles more than 200 million passengers annually with an average of more than 500,000 passengers daily. As of 2022, the company employs 129,700 staff members.
American Airlines was started in 1930 via a union of more than eighty small airlines. The two organizations from which American Airlines was originated were Robertson Aircraft Corporation and Colonial Air Transport. The former was first created in Missouri in 1921, with both being merged in 1929 into holding company The Aviation Corporation. This, in turn, was made in 1930 into an operating company and rebranded as American Airways. In 1934, when new laws and attrition of mail contracts forced many airlines to reorganize, the corporation redid its routes into a connected system and was renamed American Airlines. The airline fully developed its international business between 1970 and 2000. It purchased Trans World Airlines in 2001.
American had a direct role in the development of the Douglas DC-3, which resulted from a marathon telephone call from American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith to Douglas Aircraft Company founder Donald Wills Douglas Sr., when Smith persuaded a reluctant Douglas to design a sleeper aircraft based on the DC-2 to replace American's Curtiss Condor II biplanes. (The existing DC-2's cabin was 66 inches (1.7 m) wide, too narrow for side-by-side berths.) Douglas agreed to go ahead with development only after Smith informed him of American's intention to purchase 20 aircraft. The prototype DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) first flew on December 17, 1935, the 32nd anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight at Kitty Hawk. Its cabin was 92 in (2.3 m) wide, and a version with 21 seats instead of the 14–16 sleeping berths of the DST was given the designation DC-3. There was no prototype DC-3; the first DC-3 built followed seven DSTs off the production line and was delivered to American Airlines. American Airlines inaugurated passenger service on June 26, 1936, with simultaneous flights from Newark, New Jersey, and Chicago, Illinois.
American also had a direct role in the development of the DC-10, which resulted from a specification from American Airlines to manufacturers in 1966 to offer a widebody aircraft that was smaller than the Boeing 747, but capable of flying similar long-range routes from airports with shorter runways. McDonnell Douglas responded with the DC-10 trijet shortly after the two companies' merger. On February 19, 1968, the president of American Airlines, George A. Spater, and James S. McDonnell of McDonnell Douglas announced American's intention to acquire the DC-10. American Airlines ordered 25 DC-10s in its first order. The DC-10 made its first flight on August 29, 1970, and received its type certificate from the FAA on July 29, 1971. On August 5, 1971, the DC-10 entered commercial service with American Airlines on a round trip flight between Los Angeles and Chicago.
In 2011, due to a downturn in the airline industry, American Airlines' parent company, the AMR Corporation, filed for bankruptcy protection. In 2013, American Airlines merged with US Airways but kept the American Airlines name, as it was the better-recognized brand internationally; the combination of the two airlines resulted in the creation of the largest airline in the United States, and ultimately the world.
Charlotte – American's hub for the southeastern United States and secondary Caribbean gateway. Its operations in Concourse E are the largest regional flight operation in the world. American has about 91% of the market share at CLT, making it the largest carrier at the airport. It is a former US Airways hub.
Chicago–O'Hare – American's hub for the Midwest. American has about 35% of the market share at O'Hare, making it the airport's second largest airline after United.
Dallas/Fort Worth – American's hub for the southern United States and largest hub overall. American currently has about 87% of the market share at DFW, making it the largest carrier at the airport. American's corporate headquarters are also in Fort Worth near the airport. DFW serves as American's primary Transpacific hub, primary gateway to Mexico and its secondary gateway to Latin America.
Los Angeles – American's hub for the West Coast and secondary transpacific gateway. Though American has increasingly reduced its network out of Los Angeles, citing many long-haul international routes as unprofitable, it still maintains a limited amount of transatlantic and transpacific flights.
Miami – American's primary Latin American and Caribbean hub. American has about 68% of the market share in Miami, making it the largest airline at the airport.
New York–JFK – American's secondary transatlantic hub mostly serving destinations that see high demand from local New York traffic. American has about 12% of the market share at JFK, making it the third largest carrier at the airport behind Delta and JetBlue.
New York–LaGuardia – American's New York hub for domestic flights with a few exceptions. Most flights are operated by American Eagle.
Philadelphia – American's primary Northeast domestic hub and primary transatlantic hub. American has about 70% of the market share at PHL, making it the airport's largest airline. Another former US Airways hub.
Phoenix–Sky Harbor – American's Rocky Mountain hub. Currently American has about 33% of the market share at PHX, making it the airport's second-largest airline. Former US Airways hub.
Washington–Reagan – American's hub for the capital of the United States. American has about 49% of the market share at DCA, making it the largest carrier at the airport. Former US Airways hub.
American exclusively ordered Boeing aircraft throughout the 2000s. This strategy shifted on July 20, 2011, when American announced the largest combined aircraft order in history for 460 narrow-body jets including 260 aircraft from the Airbus A320 series. Additional Airbus aircraft joined the fleet in 2013 during the US Airways merger, which operated a nearly all Airbus fleet.
American Airlines operates aircraft maintenance and repair bases at the Charlotte, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas–Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and Tulsa airports.
Only American's widebody planes and its specially-configured Airbus A321T feature seatback entertainment. All other A321 and all Boeing 737 planes were retrofitted with their "Oasis" configuration. While this configuration adds larger overhead bins, it also added more seats, reduced legroom and seat padding, and removed seatback entertainment, which has drawn ire from some travelers.
Flagship First and Business seats on an Airbus A321 (top and bottom, respectively)
Flagship First is American's international and transcontinentalfirst class product. It is offered only on Boeing 777-300ERs and select Airbus A321s which American designates "A321T". The seats are fully lie-flat and offer direct aisle access with only one on each side of the aisle in each row. As with the airline's other premium cabins, Flagship First offers wider food and beverage options, larger seats, and lounge access at certain airports. American offers domestic Flagship First service on transcontinental routes between New York–JFK and Los Angeles, New York–JFK and San Francisco, New York-JFK and Santa Ana, Boston and Los Angeles, and Miami and Los Angeles, as well as on the standard domestic route between New York-JFK and Boston. The airline will debut new Flagship Suite® premium seats and a revamped aircraft interior for its long-haul fleet with fresh deliveries of its Airbus A321XLR and Boeing 787-9 aircraft, beginning in 2024.
Flagship Business is American's international and transcontinental business class product. It is offered on all Boeing 777-200ERs, Boeing 777-300ERs, Boeing 787-8s, and Boeing 787-9s, as well as select Airbus A321s. All Flagship Business seats are fully lie-flat. The amenities in Flagship Business include complimentary alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages, multi-course meals, and lounge access.
First class and main cabin seats on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 (top and bottom, respectively)
Domestic first class
First class is offered on all domestically configured aircraft. Seats range from 19–21 inches (48–53 cm) in width and have 37–42 inches (94–107 cm) of pitch. Dining options include complementary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on all flights as well as standard economy snack offerings, enhanced snack basket selections on flights over 500 miles (800 km), and meals on flights 900 miles (1,400 km) or longer.
Premium Economy is American's economy plus product. It is offered on all widebody aircraft. The cabin debuted on the airline's Boeing 787-9s in late 2016 and is also available on Boeing 777-200s and -300s, and Boeing 787-8s. Premium Economy seats are wider than seats in the main cabin (American's economy cabin) and provide more amenities: Premium Economy customers get two free checked bags, priority boarding, and enhanced food and drink service including free alcohol. This product made American Airlines the first U.S. carrier to offer a four-cabin aircraft.
Main Cabin Extra
Main Cabin Extra is American's enhanced economy product. It is available on all of the mainline fleet and American Eagle aircraft. Main Cabin Extra seats include greater pitch than is available in main cabin, along with free alcoholic beverages and boarding one group ahead of main cabin. American retained Main Cabin Extra when the new Premium Economy product entered service in late 2016.
Main Cabin (economy class) is American's economy product and is found on all mainline and regional aircraft in its fleet. Seats range from 17–18.5 inches (43–47 cm) in width and have 30–32 inches (76–81 cm) of pitch. American markets a number of rows within the main cabin immediately behind Main Cabin Extra as "Main Cabin Preferred", which require an extra charge to select for those without status.
American Airlines marketed increased legroom in economy class as "More Room Throughout Coach", also referred to as "MRTC", starting in February 2000. Two rows of economy class seats were removed on domestic narrowbody aircraft, resulting in more than half of all standard economy seats having a pitch of 34 inches (86 cm) or more. Amid financial losses, this scheme was discontinued in 2004.
On many routes, American also offers Basic Economy, the airline's lowest main cabin fare. Basic Economy consists of a Main Cabin ticket with numerous restrictions including waiting until check-in for a seat assignment, no upgrades or refunds, and boarding in the last group. Originally Basic Economy passengers could only carry a personal item, but American later revised their Basic Economy policies to allow for a carry-on bag.
In May 2017, American announced it would be adding more seats to some of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets and reducing overall legroom in the basic economy class. The last three rows were to lose 2 inches (5.1 cm), going from the current 31 to 29 inches (79 to 74 cm). The remainder of the main cabin was to have 30 inches (76 cm) of legroom. This "Project Oasis" seating configuration has since been expanded to all 737 MAX 8s as well as standard Boeing 737-800 and non-transcontinental Airbus A321 jets. New Airbus A321neo jets have been delivered with the same configuration. This configuration has been considered unpopular with passengers, especially American's frequent flyers, as the new seats have less padding, less legroom, and no seatback entertainment.
AAdvantage is the frequent flyer program for American Airlines. It was launched on May 1, 1981, and it remains the largest frequent flyer program with over 115 million members as of 2021. Miles accumulated in the program allow members to redeem tickets, upgrade service class, or obtain free or discounted car rentals, hotel stays, merchandise, or other products and services through partners. The most active members, based on the accumulation of Loyalty Points with American Airlines, are designated AAdvantage Gold, AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, and AAdvantage Executive Platinum elite members, with privileges such as separate check-in, priority upgrade, and standby processing, or free upgrades. AAdvantage status correspond with Oneworld status levels allowing elites to receive reciprocal benefits from American's oneworld partner airlines.[better source needed]
AAdvantage allows one-way redemption, starting at 7,500 miles.
The Admirals Club was conceived by AA president C.R. Smith as a marketing promotion shortly after he was made an honorary Texas Ranger. Inspired by the Kentucky colonels and other honorary title designations, Smith decided to make particularly valued passengers "admirals" of the "Flagship fleet" (AA called its aircraft "Flagships" at the time).[better source needed] The list of admirals included many celebrities, politicians, and other VIPs, as well as more "ordinary" customers who had been particularly loyal to the airline.
There was no physical Admirals Club until shortly after the opening of LaGuardia Airport. During the airport's construction, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia had an upper-level lounge set aside for press conferences and business meetings. At one such press conference, he noted that the entire terminal was being offered for lease to airline tenants; after a reporter asked whether the lounge would be leased as well, LaGuardia replied that it would, and a vice president of AA immediately offered to lease the premises. The airline then procured a liquor license and began operating the lounge as the "Admirals Club" in 1939.
The second Admirals Club opened at Washington National Airport. Because it was illegal to sell alcohol in Virginia at the time, the club contained refrigerators for the use of its members, so they could store their liquor at the airport. For many years, membership in the Admirals Club (and most other airline lounges) was by the airline's invitation. After a passenger sued for discrimination, the club switched to a paid membership program in 1974.
Though affiliated with the Admirals Club and staffed by many of the same employees, the Flagship Lounge is a separate lounge specifically designed for customers flying in first class and business class on international flights and transcontinental domestic flights.
The key trends for American Airlines are (as of the financial year ending 31 December):
American Eagle is a network of six regional carriers that operate under a codeshare and service agreement with American, operating flights to destinations in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Three of these carriers are independent and three are subsidiaries of American Airlines Group: Envoy Air Inc., Piedmont Airlines, Inc., and PSA Airlines Inc.
Before it was headquartered in Texas, American Airlines was headquartered at 633 Third Avenue in the Murray Hill area of Midtown Manhattan, New York City. In 1979, American moved its headquarters to a site at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which affected up to 1,300 jobs. Mayor of New York CityEd Koch described the move as a "betrayal" of New York City. American moved to two leased office buildings in Grand Prairie, Texas. On January 17, 1983, the airline finished moving into a $150 million ($441,000,000 when adjusted for inflation), 550,000-square-foot (51,000 m2) facility in Fort Worth; $147 million (about $432,000,000 when adjusted for inflation) in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport bonds financed the headquarters. The airline began leasing the facility from the airport, which owns the facility. Following the merger of US Airways and American Airlines, the new company consolidated its corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, abandoning the US Airways headquarters in Phoenix, AZ.
As of 2015, American Airlines is the corporation with the largest presence in Fort Worth.
In 2015, American announced that it would build a new headquarters in Fort Worth. Groundbreaking began in the spring of 2016 and occupancy completed in September 2019. The airline plans to house 5,000 new workers in the building.
It will be located on a 41-acre (17 ha) property adjacent to the airline's flight academy and conference and training center, west of Texas State Highway 360, 2 miles (3.2 km) west from the current headquarters. The airline will lease a total of 300 acres (120 ha) from Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport and this area will include the headquarters. Construction of the new headquarters began after the demolition of the Sabre facility, previously on the site.
The airline considered developing a new headquarters in Irving, Texas, on the old Texas Stadium site, before deciding to keep the headquarters in Fort Worth.
In 1931, Goodrich Murphy, an American employee, designed the AA logo as an entry in a logo contest. The eagle in the logo was copied from a Scottish hotel brochure. The logo was redesigned by Massimo Vignelli in 1967. Thirty years later, in 1997, American Airlines was able to make its logo Internet-compatible by buying the domain AA.com. AA is also American's two-letter IATAairline designator.
On January 17, 2013, American launched a new rebranding and marketing campaign with FutureBrand dubbed, "A New American". This included a new logo, which includes elements of the 1967 logo.
American Airlines faced difficulty obtaining copyright registration for their 2013 logo. On June 3, 2016, American Airlines sought to register it with the United States Copyright Office, but in October of that year, the Copyright Office ruled that the logo was ineligible for copyright protection, as it did not pass the threshold of originality, and was thus in the public domain. American requested that the Copyright Office reconsider, but on January 8, 2018, the Copyright Office affirmed its initial determination. After American Airlines submitted additional materials, the Copyright Office reversed its decision on December 7, 2018, and ruled that the logo contained enough creativity to merit copyright protection.
American's early liveries varied widely, but a common livery was adopted in the 1930s, featuring an eagle painted on the fuselage. The eagle became a symbol of the company and inspired the name of American Eagle Airlines. Propeller aircraft featured an international orange lightning bolt running down the length of the fuselage, which was replaced by a simpler orange stripe with the introduction of jets.
In the late 1960s, American commissioned designer Massimo Vignelli to develop a new livery. The original design called for a red, white, and blue stripe on the fuselage, and a simple "AA" logo, without an eagle, on the tail; instead, Vignelli created a highly stylized eagle, which remained the company's logo until January 16, 2013.
On January 17, 2013, American unveiled a new livery. Before then, American had been the only major U.S. airline to leave most of its aircraft surfaces unpainted. This was because C. R. Smith would not say he liked painted aircraft and refused to use any liveries that involved painting the entire plane. Robert "Bob" Crandall later justified the distinctive natural metal finish by noting that less paint reduced the aircraft's weight, thus saving on fuel costs.
In January 2013, American launched a new rebranding and marketing campaign dubbed, "The New American". In addition to a new logo, American Airlines introduced a new livery for its fleet. The airline calls the new livery and branding "a clean and modern update". The current design features an abstract American flag on the tail, along with a silver-painted fuselage, as a throw-back to the old livery. The new design was painted by Leading Edge Aviation Services in California. Doug Parker, the incoming CEO indicated that the new livery could be short-lived, stating that "maybe we need to do something slightly different than [sic] that ... The only reason this is an issue now is that they just did it right in the middle, which kind of makes it confusing, so that gives us an opportunity, actually, to decide if we are going to do something different because we have so many airplanes to paint". The current logo and livery have had mixed criticism, with Design Shack editor Joshua Johnson writing that they "boldly and proudly communicate the concepts of American pride and freedom wrapped into a shape that instantly makes you think about an airplane", and AskThePilot.com author Patrick Smith describing the logo as 'a linoleum knife poking through a shower curtain'. Later in January 2013, Bloomberg asked the designer of the 1968 American Airlines logo (Massimo Vignelli) on his opinion over the rebranding.
In the end, American let their employees decide the new livery's fate. On an internal website for employees, American posted two options, one the new livery and one a modified version of the old livery. All of the American Airlines Group employees (including US Airways and other affiliates) were able to vote. American ultimately decided to keep the new look. Parker announced that American would keep a US Airways and America West heritage aircraft in the fleet, with plans to add a heritage TWA aircraft and a heritage American plane with the old livery. As of September 2019, American has heritage aircraft for Piedmont, PSA, America West, US Airways, Reno Air, TWA, and AirCal in their fleet. They also have two AA branded heritage 737-800 aircraft, an AstroJet N905NN, and the polished aluminum livery used from 1967 to 2013, N921NN.
American, both before and after the merger with US Airways, has consistently performed poorly in rankings. The Wall Street Journal's annual airline rankings have ranked American as the worst or second-worst U.S. carrier for ten of the past twelve years, and in the bottom three of U.S. Airlines for at least the past twelve years. The airline has persistently performed poorly in the areas of losing checked luggage and bumping passengers due to oversold flights.
The main representatives of key groups of employees are:
Flight attendants at wholly owned regional carriers (Envoy, Piedmont, and PSA) are all represented by Association of Flight Attendants – Communications Workers of America (AFA-CWA). US Airways flight attendants were active members of AFA-CWA before the merger, and they are honorary lifetime members. AFA-CWA is the largest flight attendant union in the industry.
Since 1981, as a means of creating revenue in a period of loss-making, American Airlines had offered a lifetime pass of unlimited travel, for the initial cost of $250,000. This entitled the pass holder to fly anywhere in the world. Twenty-eight were sold. However, after some time, the airline realized they were making losses on the tickets, with the ticketholders costing them up to $1 million each. Ticketholders were booking large numbers of flights with some ticketholders flying interstate for lunch or flying to London multiple times a month. AA raised the cost of the lifetime pass to $3 million, and then finally stopped offering it in 2003. AA then used litigation to cancel two of the lifetime offers, saying the passes "had been terminated due to fraudulent activity".
Cabin fume events
In 1988, on American Airlines Flight 132's approach into Nashville, flight attendants notified the cockpit that there was smoke in the cabin. The flight crew in the cockpit ignored the warning, as on a prior flight, a fume event had occurred due to a problem with the auxiliary power unit. However, the smoke on Flight 132 was caused by improperly packaged hazardous materials. According to the NTSB inquiry, the cockpit crew persistently refused to acknowledge that there was a serious threat to the aircraft or the passengers, even after they were told that the floor was becoming soft and passengers had to be reseated. As a result, the aircraft was not evacuated immediately on landing, exposing the crew and passengers to the threat of smoke and fire longer than necessary.
On April 11, 2007, toxic smoke and oil fumes leaked into the aircraft cabin as American Airlines Flight 843 taxied to the gate. A flight attendant who was present in the cabin subsequently filed a lawsuit against Boeing, stating that she was diagnosed with neurotoxic disorder due to her exposure to the fumes, which caused her to experience memory loss, tremors, and severe headaches. She settled with the company in 2011.
In 2009, Mike Holland, deputy chairman for radiation and environmental issues at the Allied Pilots Association and an American Airlines pilot, said that the pilot union had started alerting pilots of the danger of contaminated bleed air, including contacting crew members that the union thinks were exposed to contamination based on maintenance records and pilot logs.
In a January 2017 incident on American Airlines Flight 1896, seven flight attendants were hospitalized after a strange odor was detected in the cabin. The Airbus A330 involved subsequently underwent a "thorough maintenance inspection", having been involved in three fume events in three months.
In August 2018, American Airlines flight attendants picketed in front of the Fort Worth company headquarters over a change in sick day policy, complaining that exposure to ill passengers, toxic uniforms, toxic cabin air, radiation exposure, and other issues were causing them to be sick.
In January 2019, two pilots and three flight attendants on Flight 1897 from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale were hospitalized following complaints of a strange odor.
On October 24, 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for American Airlines urging African Americans to "exercise caution" when traveling with the airline. The NAACP issued the advisory after four incidents. In one incident, a black woman was moved from first class to coach while her white traveling companion was allowed to remain in first class. In another incident, a black man was forced to give up his seats after being confronted by two unruly white passengers. According to the NAACP, while they did receive complaints on other airlines, most of their complaints in the year before their advisory were on American Airlines. In July 2018, the NAACP lifted their travel advisory saying that American has made improvements to mitigate discrimination and unsafe treatment of African Americans.