It’s no secret that the airline industry, and travel in general, has changed drastically over the years. When I started with American Airlines in 1984, the majority of our aircraft were Boeing 727s and we had just started flying the MD80.
Today the 727 is long gone and the MD80 will be retired in 2017, so it’s out with the old and in with the new. In 2011, we placed the largest aircraft order in aviation history. In the past two years alone we’ve taken delivery of more than 250 aircraft – that’s an average of two new planes every week. All of that combined brings our average aircraft age to 11 years, making American’s fleet the youngest of any U.S. network carrier. And with hundreds of new planes still on the way, it’s only getting younger. These new planes are also more fuel efficient than their predecessors and come equipped with Wi-Fi capability, in-seat entertainment and power at every seat. And yes, there is that “new airplane smell.”
If you’re flying internationally, you’ll notice that we recently updated our Boeing 777-200s and 767-300s with a modern interior. Both feature fully lie-flat seats in Business Class and improved entertainment options throughout the aircraft. And of course, the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is as dreamy as it sounds.
Although it’s what’s on the inside that matters most, the majority of our aircraft are now sporting our new livery. I’ll miss seeing the classic, buffed silver look, but it’s a beautiful sight to see the new tails lined up at our gates.
I spend my time as a fleet service clerk in and around these planes, and I see firsthand every day the difference these new birds make to our operation and to our customers. When you land at San Francisco International Airport, my crew and I escort your plane safely to the gate. Together we transfer your bags to your next flight or baggage claim, then we get the aircraft ready for the next flight and load a new set of bags. And during this time of year in particular, my colleagues and I will de-ice your plane to get you on your way quickly and safely.
On behalf of American’s 100,000 employees, thank you for flying with us.