History of American Airlines

American Airlines History Historic US Mail Plane

American Airlines is one of the largest current U.S. airlines. It was created in 1930 with the humungous merger of 82 airlines. From headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, they operate comprehensive domestic and international routes hitting their five U.S. hubs and covering almost the entire Earth. American Airlines recently merged with U.S. Airways, creating the largest airline in the world, and joined the Oneworld alliance, which expands their world reach even further.

American Airlines, formerly American Airways, initially started out working for the U.S. Postal Service flying mail and packages all over the country in 1930. By 1933, American Airlines efficiently routed their planes to 72 cities in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southwest and by 1936, became the first airline to operate profitable passenger routes. Other airlines at the time could not get in the green unless they helped deliver the U.S. mail. American Airlines also became the first airline to offer a “frequent flyer” style reward system with the Admirals Club.

The Admirals Club made a huge jump when American Airlines created the first airline lounge in the brand new LaGuardia Airport. Since they had helped Fiorello LaGuardia build the airport, they were able to sneak in their invitation-only membership club to the airport.

Between 1959 and 1962, American Airlines invested $440 million in transcontinental Boeing 707s to become one of the main intercontinental airlines. They also created the first electronic booking system, Sabre, with help from IBM. This system followed the same attributes as today’s Orbitz or Travelocity.

American Airlines began expanding heavily over the next few years and was eventually offering flights from St. Louis, Chicago, and New York to Honolulu and Sydney, Auckland, and Fiji with help from American Samoa. In 1973, they became the first major airline to hire a female pilot (Bonnie Tiburzi) to fly their Boeing 727s. Among other inventive accomplishments of American Airlines is their vision to create computer reservation system, two-tier wage scales, and frequent flyer programs.

1981 brought about a change to American Airlines way of travel with the hub-and-spoke system implementation and a change in hubs to Dallas, Chicago, and London. Until April 2008, the only U.S. airlines allowed to fly to and from Heathrow Airport in London were United Airlines and American Airlines. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, American Airlines expanded their reaches and grew their airline business despite rumors of bankruptcy and falling stock prices. American Airlines brought on the first electronic ticketing system in 1998 to all 44 of the countries it flew to and in 1999, they founded the Oneworld alliance with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Canadian Airlines, and Qantas.

After the September 11th attacks, American Airlines, like many others, saw a huge drop in sales and had to scale back many of its operations. However in 2005, they were able to add Ireland, China, and India to their destinations list and had a profitable quarter for the first time in 17 quarters. This was short-lived though and American Airlines ended up cutting about 700 jobs to move their maintenance base to Tulsa from Kansas City. They also suffered several maintenance allegations such as failure to comply with government safety including issues such as faulty emergency slides, improper engine coatings, overall terrible craftsmanship, incorrectly drilled holes, and failure to repair bulkhead cracks that could lead to cabin depressurization. These issues were solved when American Airlines began replacing the corrupt MD-80 jets with Boeing 737s and Airbus A319s and A321s.

In 2011, American Airlines owner AMR Corporation filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and US Airways began to surface as a possible merger partner after the restructuring and reorganization of the airline. They had to cut flights by 1-2%, hire 2,5000 new pilots due to retirements and additions of domestic and international routes, and notify 11,000 workers of possible lay-offs.

Between 2011 and 2013, American Airlines expanded routes to Asia including Japan, South Korea, and China and will offer non-stop flights from Dallas/Fort Worth to China starting summer 2014.

American Airlines and US Airways will officially merge after March 31, 2014 to become the largest airline in the world. US Airways will join the Oneworld alliance and the merger will allow American Airlines/US Airways, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines to control ¾ of the U.S. flight market. Although American Airlines has suffered its ups and downs throughout the years, they are still one of the most prominent airlines in the world and can take you to almost any destination you can dream of.

American Airlines Alliance Information

American Airlines History Oneworld Partners

American Airlines is currently part of the Oneworld alliance and helped found it in 1999 along with several other airlines. Below is a complete list of all the Oneworld alliance airlines:

  • Air Berlin
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LAN Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Joranian
  • S7 Airlines

American Airlines’ Main Hubs and Where You Can Fly on AA

American Airlines History Dallas/Ft. Worth Hub

American Airlines main hubs are included in the list below. At the moment, they do not have any main hubs outside of the U.S. They can also fly you to almost any destination you would like and the list of places they fly to is also included below.

Hubs:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Chicago
  • Maintenance base at Tulsa International Airport

 Flights to:

  • North America
  • Caribbean
  • South America
  • Europe
  • Asia

American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines History AAdvantage Logo

American Airlines’ frequent flyer program is called AAdvantage and started in 1981. It is the largest frequent flyer miles program with 67 million members and you can redeem your miles for airline tickets, seat/class upgrades, car rentals, hotel stays, merchandise, and any other products/services allowed by American Airlines or their partners.

For every flight you take on American Airlines or one of its partners, you can earn miles. You simply enter your AAvantage number on the webpage while booking your flight. You can also earn rewards from over 1,000 different participating companies and transfer your rewards between partners.

Let’s say you are driving to Disneyland and only need a hotel and rental car. With Hertz, you can earn 4 times the miles per dollar and save up to 35% on your total purchase. You then can transfer your AAdvantage miles to Marriott and stay for free if you have enough miles.

The typical transfer ratio is 1:1 but for certain categories, such as transferring hotel points to AAdvantage miles, you can earn a 25% bonus (that means 10,000 Marriott points are worth 2,000 AAdvantage miles plus the 25% bonus). You can redeem AAdvantage miles starting at just 5,000 miles for a one-way airline ticket and enjoy fabulous discounts from their numerous partners. 

How to Earn AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines History AAdvantage Credit Card

American Airlines offers many different ways to earn AAdvantage miles for reward travel. If you purchase airline tickets, a seat upgrade, car rental, hotel stay, merchandise through the American Airlines shopping mall portal, or use any other partners goods or services, you can gain AAdvantage miles or at least transfer partner miles to American Airlines.

American Airlines also offers a 25% bonus on miles/points transferred. They offer several AAvantage credit cards including the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage World MasterCard, Citi Gold/AAdvantage World MasterCard, Citi Executive/AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard, and Citi Platinum Select/AAdvantage World MasterCard. You can earn up to 30,000 bonus miles for signing up for the card and making $1,000 worth of purchases in the first three months. You also receive a free checked bag and Group 1 boarding.

Depending on which card you get, you may get 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar or 2 in addition to bonuses like chip technology, Admirals Club membership, 10% of redeemed miles returned at the end of the year, and priority check-in.  As long as you include your AAdvantage number when you book your flight, you will earn miles toward rewards travel and using your AAdvantage credit card will boost your chances of free award travel sooner.

How to Book Award Flights

American Airlines History Rewards Booking Chart

American Airlines award flights can be booked through their website or by calling 1-800-882-8880 to make a reservation. It’s easiest to book award travel online because you can review the award charts and flight maps at the same time.

They also allow you a free stopover if the flight you want to book is available online. When you visit the American Airlines homepage, click “multi-city” and this should bring you to the award travel page. Then type your departure city to your stop over destination (PHX-LHR) in flight one and your stopover city to your final destination in flight two (LHR-PAR). You can leave as much time between these two flights as long as your stopover is completed within one year of booking. So let’s say I wanted to stay in London for a month, I could fly from Phoenix to Heathrow, enjoy London for a month, and then fly from Heathrow to Paris, my final destination. You then pick the dates you want to fly and then pick the specific flights you want to take. American Airlines lets you leave as much time as you want between stopovers when you’re booking award travel and they’re free! You don’t have to pay for 2 separate flights when you book them as a stopover.

Best American Airlines AAdvantage Award Flights

American Airlines History Business Cabin

  1. Transfer Starpoints to American Airlines Miles: Fly to Europe or South American for 40,000 miles
  2. Fly During the Off-peak season (January 12-March 13, August 22-December 15) to Hawaii for 17,500 AAdvantage Miles
  3. Fly During the Off-peak (October 1-April 30) season to Japan for 25,000 AAdvantage Miles
  4. Fly Cathay Pacific First Class to Asia for 67,500 Miles One-way by transferring AAdvantage miles
  5. Fly Qantas Business Class to Australia for 62,500 Miles One-way

American Airlines First Class and Business Cabins

SPG Award Points American Airlines first class

American Airlines First Class and Business Cabins may not be as plush as the Singapore Suites but they’re still extremely roomy and comfortable. You have a new flat-screen T.V., extremely comfortable extra-wide seat that turns into a full bed, and exceptional service. You can also transfer your AAdvantage miles to fly on the most luxurious first class seats including Etihad Airways, Cathay Pacific, and British Airways.

Transfer Partners for American Airlines

American Airlines History Oneworld logo

  • Air Berlin
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Asiana Airlines
  • British Airways
  • British Airways Limited
  • Cape Air
  • Cathay Pacific
  • El Al
  • Etihad Airways
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Gulf Air
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Jetstar Airways
  • LAN Airlines
  • LAN Colombia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • OpenSkies
  • Qantas
  • Best Western
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Marriott
  • Carlson Rezidor Hotels
  • Wyndham Hotel Group
  • Hertz
  • Thrifty
  • Avis
  • Dollar Rent a Car
  • National
  • Alamo
  • Budget