In 1934, American Airlines was founded from a conglomeration of 82 small airlines when American Airways was renamed and reincorporated as American Airlines. The consolidation began in 1929, when The Aviation Corporation was formed to acquire young aviation companies, and continued in 1930, when the Aviation Corporation’s airline subsidiaries were incorporated into American Airways.
In 1936, American Airlines was the first to fly the Douglas DC-3 in commercial service, and, by the end of the decade, it was the nation’s number one domestic air carrier in terms of revenue passenger miles.
In 1942, with a subsidiary called Sky Chefs, American Airlines entered the airline catering business, providing food service to its passengers as well as to other airlines.
During World War II, with half of its fleet turned over to the military airline, Air Transport Command, along with the crews, the remaining fleet and personnel handled a vast increase in demand for air travel within the United States.
In the late 1940s, American operated a trans-Atlantic division, American Overseas Airlines (AOA), which served a number of European countries. This was American Airlines’ first European service. AOA merged with Pan American World Airways in 1950.
In 1947, the first Douglas DC-6 entered service followed by the Convair 240 in 1948. By 1949, American Airlines had become the only airline in the United States with a completely post-war fleet of pressurized passenger airplanes.
In 1952, the Magnetronic Reservisor was introduced to keep track of available seats on flights.
In 1953, American Airlines pioneered nonstop transcontinental service in both directions across the United States with the Douglas DC-7.
In 1957, the American Airlines Stewardess College, the world’s first special facility for flight attendant training, was built in Dallas/Fort Worth.
In 1959, American Airlines became the first airline to offer coast-to-coast jet service with the Boeing 707 and introduced the first U.S. designed turboprop airplane, Lockheed Electra.
Throughout the 1960s and 70s, American added other jets, including the Boeing 727 (1964) and the Boeing 747 (1970), as the older aircraft were retired. In 1968, American Airlines was the first to order the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft, which made its first scheduled flight in August 1971.
In 1970, American Airlines gained its first Caribbean routes through a merger with Trans Caribbean Airways.
In 1977, American introduced the Super Saver, the most popular fare in its history, offering discount fares from New York and California. In March 1978, Super Saver was expanded to all of American’s routes and later to Mexico and Canada.
In 1979, American Airlines’ headquarters moved from New York City to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
In 1981, American Airlines introduced a revolutionary marketing program to reward frequent fliers, the AADVANTAGE travel awards program.
In 1982, American Airlines acquired its first 767, transported its 500 millionth passenger and added its Chicago hub.
In 1984, American Airlines introduced the American Eagle system. American Eagle started as a collection of unrelated regional carriers with contracts to carry this brand name.
In 1988, the Airbus A300-600ER was acquired to serve Caribbean markets from locations on the mainland and in 1989, American put its first Boeing 757 into service and opened its seventh hub in Miami.
In 1991, American Airlines transported its billionth passenger, expanded its European routes, and took delivery of its first McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and Fokker 100 aircraft.
In 1996, American Airlines officially launched AAccess ticketless travel and AAccess boarding and added in-flight laptop computer capabilities to its aircraft.
In 1998, together four other airlines, American Airlines announced a new customer-driven global alliance – oneworld®. On February 1, 1999, the new alliance took off.
In 1999, American Airlines introduced the Boeing 777 and the 737-800 and became the first airline to offer DVD in-flight video players on scheduled flights.
In 2001, American Airlines completed acquisition of TWA’s assets.
In 2002, daily nonstop Boeing 777 service between New York JFK and Tokyo began, giving American Airlines four U.S. gateways to Japan.
In 2005, launching daily nonstop service between Chicago and Delhi, India, American Airlines flew longest nonstop route (7,500 miles) with Boeing 777 aircraft.
In 2008, the mobile version of AA.com was introduced, allowing customers to access many of the helpful features of AA.com via a Web-enabled cell phone or device. Also, American introduced mobile boarding passes at selected airports for use with mobile phones or PDAs.
In 2010, American Airlines went cashless onboard all flights and expanded its mobile boarding pass program to four additional airports for a total of 42 airports (London Heathrow was the first international airport to receive the program).
In October 2010, after receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a joint business governing flights between North America and Europe, American Airlines, together with British Airways and Iberia, announced the official start of their new joint business and new service as a part of their trilateral relationship.
In 2011, American Airlines continued to expand its partnerships with other airlines in addition to enhancing its joint businesses and its participation in the oneworld® alliance.
In December 2012, Boeing delivered to American Airlines its first 777-300ER (extended range) jetliner as part of the airline’s fleet modernization effort. American Airlines is the first U.S. airline to add the 777-300ER to its fleet.
In January 2013, American Airlines launched the Boeing 777-300 ER into service and unveiled American Airlines’ new logo and brand image. The new livery was introduced on the Boeing 737-800.
In February 2013, the boards of American and US Airways approve a merger creating the world’s biggest airline. At this time, American Airlines and US Airways continue to operate as two separate airlines. It is expected that the merger to be completed in the third quarter of 2013.
On October 17, 2015, American Airlines and US Airways begin operating as one airline after US Airways flew its last flight, Flight 1939 on October 16.
In July 2016, American Airlines announced the launch of an additional level of service, Premium Economy seating on international flights. American Airlines is the first US airline to introduce International Premium Economy service. The Premium Economy retrofits are to be completed mid-2019, with the reconfiguration of 19 Boeing B787 8 aircraft.
In 2017, American Airlines was named the 2017 Airline of the Year by ATW (Air Transport World), for the first time in nearly 30 years and in recognition of the airline’s leadership and employees achievements.
In April 2018, American Airlines ordered an additional 47 Boeing B787. The 22 Boeing B787 8 aircraft to be delivered starting 2020 will replace the Boeing B767 300s, and the 25 Boeing B787 9 to be delivered starting 2023 will replace Airbus A330 300s and older Boeing B777 200s. Also, as part of the strategy to simplify the fleet, American and Airbus agreed to cancel the order originally placed by US Airways for 22 A350 aircraft.
In February 2019, American Airlines and British Airways announced their plans to co-locate their operations at JFK International Airport Terminal 8, thus offering enhanced service between New York and London and further strengthening the airlines’ Atlantic Joint Business partnership. British Airways will remain in Terminal 7 until 2022 when the co-location is scheduled.
In April 2019, the A321neo, the newest type of aircraft in the AA fleet, is scheduled to begin flying between Phoenix (PHX) and Orlando (MCO). Over the next several years, American Airlines will take delivery of 100 A321neos fitted with 196 seats, power at every seat, fast Wi-Fi, and free wireless entertainment on each passenger’s own mobile device. The A321neo is also the first aircraft delivered with Airbus’ new XL overhead bins for which American Airlines is the launch customer.
In Spring 2020, American Airlines drastically cut its domestic and international flights due to the low travel demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. American Airlines reported a full-year net loss of around $9 billion for 2020.
For summer 2021, to accommodate the gradual return to the skies, American Airlines will launch new routes to Latin America and the Caribbean and will be the only US airline with nonstop service from Miami to Tel Aviv and Paramaribo.
Throughout its long history, American Airlines was involved in many deadly incidents. In the last century, its aircraft were involved in more than 25 accidents and incidents, causing a total of more than 900 fatalities. Since 2000, three major air crashes (all the people on board were killed) mark the history of American Airlines: in the September 11 attacks, two aircraft were deliberately hijacked and crashed, and, also in 2001, an Airbus A300 crashed in the Belle Harbor neighborhood of New York City, killing all 260 people aboard the jetliner and 5 people on the ground.