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MD80 Love/Hate Conundrum  
User currently offlinePA727 From United States of America, joined Dec 2011, 64 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 5851 times:
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I find it fascinating reading posts and seeing just how polarizing the MD80 is. First and foremost, I clearly understand the need to retire the type due to economics, aging fleets and fuel costs. What I don't understand though, is from a purely passenger-centric point of view, what's not to love?

With all mainline domestic legacy flights being similar in terms of seat pitch, width and amenities, I'll take a four out of five shot at either a window or an aisle any day.

As my username suggests, I grew up a huge 727 fan, and it will always be my all-time favorite. This makes my coming around to the Mad-Dog even more pronounced given my youthful feeling that the MD was a "cheap imitation of the 727 with one less engine." Granted, you grow up and learn things, but we all have the beliefs of our youth that we cling to, no matter how much they defy logic and reality  

So with that in mind, I'm extremely interested in learning why there is such disparity between the love and hate of the MD80. Again, I'm launching this discussion solely from a passenger's point of view. No sense arguing what we already know to be true about why the type needs to be retired - just why wouldn't a passenger prefer the MD80 over any other type on a short/medium haul flight.

Should be interesting - Chris

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBoeingGuy From United States of America, joined Dec 2010, 2949 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 5671 times:

Quoting PA727 (Thread starter):
So with that in mind, I'm extremely interested in learning why there is such disparity between the love and hate of the MD80. Again, I'm launching this discussion solely from a passenger's point of view. No sense arguing what we already know to be true about why the type needs to be retired - just why wouldn't a passenger prefer the MD80 over any other type on a short/medium haul flight.

This is a very interesting and relevant thread. I've seen people on A.net, including myself, state in the past that we believe AA's MD-80s are the most comfortable coach seat of any carrier in the USA. I concur with that too, as long as it's near the quiet front of the airplane. I love getting on the 2-seat side of AA's MD-80s. Nothing beat seat 11A when I was an AA FF and could get exit rows.

Best part of the MD-80 was watching and riding the Powerbacks at DFW.


User currently offlinesaleya22r From France, joined Mar 2007, 58 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 5484 times:
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The 727 was introduced in 1963, the DC-9 two years later. As a kid, I never felt that the DC-9 was a copy of the three-holer. The Caravelle had been in service for many years so you might have thought that the DC-9 was rather an American copy of he French bird..
AY got their short -10 series slatless DC-niners in ca 1971. I loved their powerful take-offs, in cold weather and light load they were like rockets. And silent if you had a seat in the front. How could you not "love" them?
MDs were just modernized DC9s, from ca 1980 as we all know.
Hence, you should obviously include the DC-9 in the discussion. The production of the 727 ended in 1984.
Compared with the DC-9, aircraft of that era such as the BAC 1-11 and the Trident felt powerless on take-off although my experience as a passenger was very limited. The Caravelle? Somewhere between. But that's just my feeling, right?
Saleya 22R


User currently offlineN243NW From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1624 posts, RR: 20
Reply 3, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5466 times:

The only real thing to dislike about the plane is the lack of IFE and the noise level near the rear, if you're not an airplane geek.

I keep telling all my coworkers and friends who hate the Mad Dog to just wait five years when everything in the sky looks and sounds the same. For us enthusiasts, the MD80 really represents the last of the "good old days" with its JT8D roar and unique T-tail design. It's almost a certainty that we'll never see a rear-engined, T-tailed mainline jet in production ever again.

Couple this with its 2x3 seating and quiet ride up front and it's easy to see why many flyers prefer it. Heck, I'll even take the rearmost seats on a shorter flight if it means I get to listen to that awesome PW buzz.  


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B-52s don't take off. They scare the ground away.
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3901 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 5416 times:
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For me, it's very simple, and dates to a two-day trip a few years back. Three of the four legs were on an AA MD80. All three aircraft had a mechanical issue. In the best case (or least worst), we got off the plane and walked a few gates over to another aircraft (at DFW). In the worst case, the flight was cancelled and there was only one other left that day, a 50-seater with a few available seats (thankfully I got one).

For what it's worth, the remaining leg was on a Northwest A320 and the flight was totally uneventful.

Maybe I should blame AA maintenance more than the aircraft itself, but I've been avoiding them as much as possible since.

Of course, what may differentiate me from many other a.netters is that a plane is first and foremost a way to get from A to B reasonably on time... and the MD80 has failed that test too often.

[Edited 2012-09-02 17:35:40]


I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineLonghornmaniac From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 3275 posts, RR: 45
Reply 5, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5372 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 4):

Sounds like bad luck. I have flown literally hundreds of flights on AA Maddogs, and never had a single m/x delay. MD-80s, however, have saved the day from m/x related issues on other aircraft types.

For me, I love the 2-3 seating. It just makes flying with a partner so much more pleasant, not having to worry about one of you being in the middle seat, or being sandwiched around someone else in a middle seat. As a window-lover, the 2 side is great since I only have to bother 1 person should I need to get out.

I also love how quiet the MD-80 is up front. From about row 15 up, it's quieter than any aircraft in any seat I've been on/in, save the A-380. Of course, the flip side is if you're seated in the back, but as a plane nut, that's ok, too! Love those JT8Ds!

I used to really dislike them when I was younger, simply because they were so normal, and therefore, boring. While I'll still go out of my way to find a flight on anything else, it's only because they really do represent 90% of my domestic travel, and breaking up that monotony is good. Being an AA flyer out of the DFW hub makes it hard to do.

Cheers,
Cameron


User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3901 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 5362 times:
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Quoting Longhornmaniac (Reply 5):
Sounds like bad luck.

Oh I am quite sure it is, if my experience was typical of AA, the airline would have long been gone... Nevertheless, that four-flight itinerary was just the last collective straw of a run of MD80-related delays. Maybe there's bad karma between me and AA's MD80's. Not only do I fly out of DFW as well, but the cities I fly to the most seem all serviced by the damn dogs, so no MD80 pretty much means I almost never fly AA (5 flights so far this year over a total above 100 and counting).



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineEricAY05 From Finland, joined Sep 2010, 97 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 5296 times:

I grew up in Helsinki, where every plane you saw in the sky was a DC-9 or a MD-80, or at least that's how it felt for a little kid  When I was young I disliked those planes. They were super-boring (like A320's today) and no matter how many times my parents explained to me how they could fly, I still couldn't believe that those tiny wings can keep the big tube in the air. Heck, I still don't get it, even though I know the physics behind it very well! 

Now I'm a huge fan of these planes. Mostly it's nostalgia and because I know how rare they are becoming ouside of the USA. That's why flying into ATL or DFW is an awesome experience every single time. As a kid almost all my flights were on board these planes, but only as an adult have I started to appreciate the cabin layout and the 2-3 seating. It certainly is very enjoyable if you choose your seats in advance and make sure you're far away from the engines on the 2 side. I also enjoy the rocket-like take-offs much more than I did as a kid who felt nervous about flying.


User currently offlineN243NW From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1624 posts, RR: 20
Reply 8, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 5266 times:

Quoting EricAY05 (Reply 7):
I also enjoy the rocket-like take-offs much more than I did as a kid who felt nervous about flying.

That's one of the other things I like most about the plane. It seems to trundle down the runway on takeoff, have a very slow, prolonged rotation, struggle off the ground, but then start to climb and steepen progressively over the next 10 seconds or so. Combine that with the long, thin fuselage, and it looks like it's blasting off vertically when you view it from the rear.



B-52s don't take off. They scare the ground away.
User currently offlineTrijetsRMissed From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 2318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 9, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 5255 times:

I have a personal fondness for the MD-80, as it was an integral part of my consulting career. From 1987-1992, the type truly dominated it's class (500+ deliveries) and kept McDonnell Douglas going for a few more years.

In a related thread, AZ will soon be retiring their fleet. Monumental, when you consider how critical AZ's 1982 order was to the MD-80's success. It allowed MDC the leverage to later work out a creative lease/trial deal with AA. That culminated into the record 163 frame order, which blew the door open. Soon, the order pipeline filled up left and right, and the rest is history.

With DL, G4, and even AA, the demise of the MD-80 is still several years away. I would liken it to where the 727 stood in it's life circa 1993-94. Still about 7-9 years away from complete phaseout. The two-man crew of the MD-80 is an advantage the 727 didn't have. And the commonality it shares with the MD-90 (which will fly into the 2020s at DL) doesn't hurt either.

Quoting saleya22r (Reply 2):
MDs were just modernized DC9s, from ca 1980 as we all know.
Hence, you should obviously include the DC-9 in the discussion.

Not at all true. A D95 and MD-88, for example, differ significantly. They are different aircraft through and through and hence are a different discussion.

[Edited 2012-09-03 21:00:44]


There's nothing quite like a tri-jet.
User currently offlinesaleya22R From France, joined Mar 2007, 58 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5226 times:
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Quoting TrijetsRMissed (Reply 9):
Not at all true. A D95 and MD-88, for example, differ significantly. They are different aircraft through and through and hence are a different discussion.

The DC-9-80 became the MD-80 in the early 80's. As far I understand there were no major diffrences initially. Correct me if I'm wrong.
You're of course right about the later models such as the MD90.
Saleya22R


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24643 posts, RR: 22
Reply 11, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 5153 times:

Quoting saleya22R (Reply 10):
Quoting TrijetsRMissed (Reply 9):
Not at all true. A D95 and MD-88, for example, differ significantly. They are different aircraft through and through and hence are a different discussion.

The DC-9-80 became the MD-80 in the early 80's. As far I understand there were no major diffrences initially. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Except for the MD-88, the MD-80 term is only an unofficial marketing designation. The MD-81/82/83/87 are all officially certified as DC-9-81/82/83/87. The MD-88 is officially an MD-88.


User currently offlinejporterfi From United States of America, joined Feb 2012, 438 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5131 times:

Personally, I dislike the MD-80 series (as well as the Boeing 717) because several years ago, they seemed to be all I flew on. Several years in a row, my family booked out summer trip as ATL-DFW-LAX or ATL-DFW-BUR, and al of those flights were on MD-80s (except one that was a 738). Also, because I lived in Atlanta, a lot of my flying on DL during that time period also took place on MD-80s. I like to have a large variety in the type of aircraft that I fly on, and after flying on MD-80s for so long, I was glad to have a little variety in the form of 737s and A320s. In terms of actually flying onboard an MD-80, I didn't mind it, except when I was in the last row of the plane, because that row's window was blocked by the engines.

User currently offlineTrijetsRMissed From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 2318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5123 times:

Quoting saleya22R (Reply 10):

The DC-9-80 became the MD-80 in the early 80's. As far I understand there were no major diffrences initially. Correct me if I'm wrong.

That is technically true. But outside of the type certificate, no MD-80 series was ever marketed or advertised as a DC-9 by either MDC or an airline, after 1982. Thus, for all practical purposes the "DC-9" designation refers to the DC-9-10 through DC-9-50 series. That's why I assumed you meant the "classic" DC-9 aircraft, rather than DC-9-80 series in your earlier post.

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 11):

Except for the MD-88, the MD-80 term is only an unofficial marketing designation. The MD-81/82/83/87 are all officially certified as DC-9-81/82/83/87. The MD-88 is officially an MD-88.

It costs money to redo the type certificate and McDonnell mgmt felt it wasn't worth it. Only the -87 was launched after the designation change.

In all my years frequenting LGB and the various correspondences with MDC personnel and their respected clients, I never saw or heard an MD-80 series referred to as a DC-9-80 after 1982. I recall the test prototypes having "MD-83" and "MD-87" titles. Even in the contracts, it was only a footnote for legal purposes in the fine print of the terms and conditions. i.e. "Airline XYZ reserves the right to exercise X number of options for the MD-83 (DC-9-83) aircraft, with delivery slots reserved during the 1/1/1985 - 12/31/1986 time-frame."



There's nothing quite like a tri-jet.
User currently offlineHA_DC9 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 653 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5122 times:

Three reasons for me on why the DC-9/MD-80/717 will have a special place my heart:

1. The 2-3 seating is awesome, especially for single travelers like me.

2. It is very quiet up front whether you fly F or the first few rows of Y.

3. The aft airstairs/tailcone exit is awsome. Growing up in Hawaii and flying HA and their DC-9s, I loved walking out of the terminal and being able to board and deplane from the aft airstairs and being able to look up and see the T-tail and JT8Ds up close. Man, those were the days! I just wish I could still do this on the 717.


User currently offlineL1011 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1662 posts, RR: 9
Reply 15, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5072 times:
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I like the MD-80 best for it's 2 x 3 seating. For a while I wasn't too crazy about them because most of my flights were on 727s, DC-9s, or MD-80s, and I preferred some variety. It was nice to occasionally get a DC-8, 707, or Electra. But now most of them are gone, and the MD-80 and its derivitives have become my favorite aircraft. Long may they fly!

Bob Bradley



Fly Eastern's Golden Falcon DC-7B
User currently offlineYflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 997 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5039 times:

Quoting jporterfi (Reply 12):
Personally, I dislike the MD-80 series (as well as the Boeing 717) because several years ago, they seemed to be all I flew on... I was glad to have a little variety in the form of 737s and A320s.

Ironic, because that's exactly why I (and I suspect a lot of others) like the MD-80. My most flown airlines are United and Continental, so it seems like all I ever fly on are various 737 and A320 series planes, with the occasional 757 thrown in. So I'm always happy when I can fly on an MD-80/90 to add some variety.


User currently offlineTrijetsRMissed From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 2318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 17, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 5032 times:

Quoting Yflyer (Reply 16):
My most flown airlines are United and Continental, so it seems like all I ever fly on are various 737 and A320 series planes, with the occasional 757 thrown in. So I'm always happy when I can fly on an MD-80/90 to add some variety.

I get that feeling whenever I'm in the UA terminal at ORD... If at all possible, I book AA and DL to increase the likelihood of an MD-vintage twin, or at worst a 757.



There's nothing quite like a tri-jet.
User currently offline727tiger From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 263 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 5006 times:

Like PA727, I grew up a huge 727 fan, and it will always be my favorite. But, somewhere along the way, the DC-9/MD-80 series grew on me. I love the 2x3 seating and riding up front. Sometimes, I even enjoy the rumble in the rear as those vintage engines roar.

Our house sits near the main approaches/departures into/out of SGF for MEM, ATL, MCO and PIE (about 25 miles from SGF). When I'm outside, all i have to do is hear that first rumble, and I know its a G4 MD-83 or -87 flight. There's nothing else like it today in or out of SGF. There's the UPS A300, but even it is not the same. I miss FedEx's 727 MEM-SGF run; it also would overfly our house.


User currently offlineNWADTWE16 From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 242 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (1 year 10 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4857 times:

Its always been a beautiful bird to me..Northwest aquired a few MD80's in the Republic merger and operated them until 2000 i believe. With our huge DC9-10/30/40 & 50 fleet it was really cool and unique to see the big stretch bird come in from time to time. Ironically now as Delta they are all over LOL. Anyway back to topic..ever since i watched the 'Seconds from Disaster' covering the ill-fated Alaska flight thats jackscrew popped off and the plane went straight down i wont fly any of the MD-80/82/83/88/90 models...(and thanks to all who tried to explain away my fears in my other post)..i still feel even with all the explanation i was given that there really is no backup to that jackscrew and so no MD80 for me..really beautiful bird though =)

User currently offlineTrijetsRMissed From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 2318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 20, posted (1 year 10 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4843 times:

Quoting NWADTWE16 (Reply 19):
ever since i watched the 'Seconds from Disaster' covering the ill-fated Alaska flight thats jackscrew popped off and the plane went straight down i wont fly any of the MD-80/82/83/88/90 models...(and thanks to all who tried to explain away my fears in my other post)..i still feel even with all the explanation i was given that there really is no backup to that jackscrew and so no MD80 for me..really beautiful bird though =)

With respect, that ridiculous. Don't you know that the A320 and 737NG only have one jackscrew as well? In fact, the only type(s) I know for certain which have a backup jackscrew is the DC-10/MD-11.



There's nothing quite like a tri-jet.
User currently offlineLHRBFSTrident From UK - Northern Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 655 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (1 year 10 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 4784 times:

What I like about the MD-80:

v. quiet in the front, 2-3 configuration, ventral stairs



What I dislike:

chronically insufficient air-conditioning on the ground (esp in the DFW, SAT, AUS, IAH summer months: not a dry shirt in the house...)

The exit configuration always bothered me (I feel very safe flying but I am slightly obsessed with knowing my escape routes): there are only 2 full-size exits for all those pax, and they are both on the same side of the a/c: the front with a door-opening clearance that is millimeters from getting jammed in case of fuselage damage, the rear example next to a very hot, very spinning part. The service door at the front is tiny, and the tailcone exit is - again - slap bang between the hottest, spinning-est parts, while the over-wing exits are only 4 panicking 'sizeable' Texans away from becoming blocked...

It's perhaps somewhat irrational, but it has always seemed to me to be the least 'evacuatable' a/c in case of an accident...



Next up: LAX-LHR NZ002 Y SkyCouch! LHR-LAX NZ001 Y
User currently offlineCapEd388 From United States of America, joined Feb 2011, 233 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (1 year 10 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4761 times:

It is such a beautiful aircraft. How could you not like the look of an MD-80 in the AA livery? That has to be my favorite aircraft/livery combo by far. I also believe that G4 also has very comfortable MD-80s. I have flown with G4 a number of times, and the flights have always been very comfortable and pleasant.


388 346 77W 787
User currently offlinePA727 From United States of America, joined Dec 2011, 64 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 10 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4684 times:
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Quoting LHRBFSTrident (Reply 21):
chronically insufficient air-conditioning on the ground (esp in the DFW, SAT, AUS, IAH summer months: not a dry shirt in the house...)

Have to agree here. Just returned from Vegas this Monday, and it required an equipment change since the first MD-87 couldn't cool down in the heat at LAS, and the second one took quite a while to "cool." Was a bit warm on there until takeoff, but then cooled down quickly.

Few seats are better than the exit row on the two-seat side. Almost like like business class - minus the amenities 


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