lhcvg
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Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:39 pm

I was reading an article on major U.S. brands this morning on NBCNews.com, and it had an interesting line: "American Airlines was the premier U.S. airline for over thirty years". It then goes on to cite the successive DL/NW and UA/CO mergers and how that quickly dropped AA from world's largest status to third in the U.S. They didn't provide any more detail on dates, but it sounds to me like they are basically arguing that AA was the "premier U.S. airline" since deregulation until the DL and UA megacarriers came about.

At the risk of starting a flamefest, I thought this was an interesting assertion. Anyone have any thoughts on that?
 
jfk777
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:47 pm

From 1990 to 2005 AA was the premier US airline, I base this on its expansion to Latin America and LHR at time. After 9/11 AA went into a pause that caused it to declare Bankruptcy. AA stopped buying 737-800 and got stuck with all the MD-80's.
 
Flighty
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:00 pm

Some of us have said UA/AA were joint USA flag carriers for many years. They also offered 3-class service internationally. Their true widebody (777+) fleets were by far the largest.

But to single AA out as THE premier one, no, that is not a fair statement. It is a great global airline, but the USA had about five of those.
 
N62NA
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:02 pm

Well, here in the USA, the media is notoriously inaccurate about most things they write about aviation (and just in general too!).

So, by "premiere" maybe the author(s) meant largest airline. That seems most likely.
 
jcwr56
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:04 pm

How did they define "Premier"....based on what? Employee Pay, Management, Profitability, Revenue Passengers Flown, Equipment, Routes, FF Programs?

Set the standards then make the claim in a objective manner. Not what one person "believes" when writing an article.
 
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IrishAyes
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:12 pm

Quoting LHCVG (Thread starter):
They didn't provide any more detail on dates, but it sounds to me like they are basically arguing that AA was the "premier U.S. airline" since deregulation until the DL and UA megacarriers came about.

AA is not the only example of a once-former shining star of the industry that has fallen off the bandwagon. Plenty of global legacy carriers have gone down the same tube as industry forces have completely re-shaped the competitive landscape.

I also agree with some of the other opinions here in that "premier" is too loosely defined/subjective to draw any sort of conclusive statements.
confidence is silent. insecurities are loud.
 
lhcvg
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:25 pm

Quoting jcwr56 (Reply 4):
How did they define "Premier"....based on what? Employee Pay, Management, Profitability, Revenue Passengers Flown, Equipment, Routes, FF Programs?

Set the standards then make the claim in a objective manner. Not what one person "believes" when writing an article.

That was exactly my response - especially in the general media and not an aviation expert site.
 
MEA-707
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:28 pm

In the 1990s United, Delta and American were about as big... Delta had slightly more passengers but on shorter sectors then the others but United and American were very close in RPMs and fleetsize, one year one was bigger, the next the other. Perhaps because American has the most patriotic name and scheme it was being seen as the premier USA airline, with United close behind and Delta having a much lower profile. I know I open up a can of worms here but the 911 hyjackers chose American and United not for nothing as they had a more US proud appeal then any other airline, just like Pan Am unfortunately was relatively much a victim of terrorism in its days.
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
 
tommy767
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:54 pm

Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 7):

Also not to open a can of worms but IIRC, some DL planes were also to be hijacked on 9/11 as well but got grounded before anything happened.

AA was very premium up until around 2000. Fares were pretty high but the service in Y was very good. The meals on short to medium sectors were always very good.

UA was premium in a different way. They invested more $ into their fleet and in the 1990s they were taking deliveries of 777, 767, 757, and A32S. AA had an older fleet than UA in the 90s, but the service was always remarked to be better.

DL I don't think was every regarded as very premium. They did have some staple route out of JFK in the late 1990s, but they also had their fair share of low fare pax (Delta Express.)

CO wasn't even on the radar compared to AA and UA back in the 1990s. Many still had a bad taste in their mouths because of Lorenzo.

For the record, I always though US was more classy in the 1990s but never on the same scale as DL, AA, UA etc.

Now the roles are all different. DL and UA are now the leading global carriers in America. AA has taken a back seat due to BK.
"KEEP CLIMBING" -- DELTA
 
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STT757
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:01 pm

The author probably was refering to AA's size and dominance, both of which have waned dramatically in the past 12 years.

[Edited 2012-08-20 08:12:00]
Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
 
lhcvg
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:42 pm

Quoting tommy767 (Reply 8):
Now the roles are all different. DL and UA are now the leading global carriers in America. AA has taken a back seat due to BK.

To be fair, I don't think bk ALONE relegates a carrier to "the back seat". Don't get me wrong - I've been known to bash AA for various sins, particularly their poor relations with pilots and unwillingness to enter bk out of pride instead of pragmatism, but on this one I don't ding them. In other words, I take issue with what I perceive to be certain failings of their product and strategy, but for me at least, bk is an economic situation at the corporate level rather than a product issue involving line personnel and the customer-facing experience per se, provided that poor employee morale during bk proceedings doesn't sink any perceived "premier" service they offer.
 
ckfred
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:53 pm

AA was among the innovative airlines. It created the frequent flyer program. UA used to hand out plaques and baggage ID tags, when a passegner accumulated 100,000 miles (My father was a member of the 100,000 Miler Club). Bob Crandall thought a plaque and tags was a poor way to reward loyalty and thought free trips was a better reward.

Hence, the AAdvantage program.

While UA was trying Economy Plus (reserving seats with more legroom in the front of the cabin for elites and full-fare passengers) AA introduced More Room Throughout Coach, giving everyone in coach more legroom. The program didn't work (AA wasn't able to charge more for the reduced number of seats), but it was innovative.

Generally, AA has had the best choice of wines of any of the domestic carriers. For years, AA's wines were selected by a professor of agriculture at Purdue University who had a background in the growing of grapes.

And besides Latin America, AA used to be the dominant carrier in the Caribbean, pretty much serving any island through SJU, MIA, JFK, or BOS.
 
tommy767
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:14 pm

Quoting ckfred (Reply 11):
And besides Latin America, AA used to be the dominant carrier in the Caribbean, pretty much serving any island through SJU, MIA, JFK, or BOS.

Those days have sailed away. AA is no longer the dominant carrier to the caribbean out of BOS, JFK, or SJU. Only MIA.
"KEEP CLIMBING" -- DELTA
 
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STT757
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:25 pm

Quoting ckfred (Reply 11):
The program didn't work (AA wasn't able to charge more for the reduced number of seats), but it was innovative.

TWA was the first carrier to do that in 1993, they recinded it but then it was implemented again when they were taken over by AA. AA was just copying what TWA did expecting a different outcome.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/denon/3625317788/

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/TWA+AN...SUBSTANTIAL+INCREASE...-a013101409

[Edited 2012-08-20 09:31:41]
Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
 
seatback
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:32 pm

Quoting tommy767 (Reply 8):
Also not to open a can of worms but IIRC, some DL planes were also to be hijacked on 9/11 as well but got grounded before anything happened.

I've never heard this. Can anyone confirm?
 
flyguy89
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:07 pm

Quoting LHCVG (Thread starter):
At the risk of starting a flamefest, I thought this was an interesting assertion. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

Well on a.net, we could argue semantics about such an assertion, but from the perspective of the average joe who doesn't pay much attention to the airline industry I think it's probably a fair enough assessment. In the late 80's and all of the 90's AA was going gang-busters. Their in-flight service truly was top-notch in all classes, they had gained that coveted access to LHR, were expanding in Europe and Latin America, and as stated were jockeying with UA as the world's largest airline. So to the average person it probably makes sense to call them the premier US airline.

Of course since 9/11 they've stagnated unfortunately and they now have a lot of hurdles to overcome to get back on top. I will say this though, AA's domestic first class is still very top-notch when compared to their peers. I can't speak for the international premium cabins, but as far as domestic flights, AA is still very solid and invests heavily in the in-flight service, food, etc. UA is probably a close second, but on DL you'll often only receive a cold sandwich or other underwhelming option, on US first class passengers don't even get anything unless the flight is longer than 3 hours (unless they've changed this recently), but on AA pretty much any flight over two hours will get you a hot meal, even on the S80's
 
YYZAMS
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:15 pm

Quoting jcwr56 (Reply 4):

Totally agree! My premier is at the bottom of the rating scale. So maybe they are using a rubric that looks like this:

Bestest of the Best
Foremost
Headmost
Premier
 
AADC10
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:31 pm

Difficult to define "premier" but not long ago AA led in business contracts and Consumers Reports once rated it highest among the legacies with the best legacy frequent flyer redemption rates. It is also by far the largest USA carrier on the premier international business route, JFK-LHR. An argument could be made for any of the legacies but I would figure that the label was assigned by virtue of AA being a favorite of corporate travel departments.
 
Max Q
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:11 pm

The most relevant standard attached to 'Premier' must be customer service.


In that respect AA has never deserved that title.
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
 
bobnwa
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:35 pm

Quoting Max Q (Reply 18):
In that respect AA has never deserved that title.

Going back to the sixties seventies and eighties, AA was most definitly the " premier airline" not quite never.
 
Maverick623
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:53 pm

Quoting tommy767 (Reply 8):
Also not to open a can of worms but IIRC, some DL planes were also to be hijacked on 9/11 as well but got grounded before anything happened.

Nope. There was a DL plane (flight 1989 I believe) that had radio issues during the attack, but no hijack or attempt was made.

There's a very specific reason the hijackings were timed the way they were (i.e, almost simultaneously): they knew that there was a limited window for success.
"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
 
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STT757
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:58 pm

Quoting seatback (Reply 14):

I've never heard this. Can anyone confirm?

There were no other flights planned, check the 9/11 commission report.
Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
 
AA94
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:10 pm

Quoting ckfred (Reply 11):
AA was among the innovative airlines. It created the frequent flyer program. UA used to hand out plaques and baggage ID tags, when a passegner accumulated 100,000 miles (My father was a member of the 100,000 Miler Club). Bob Crandall thought a plaque and tags was a poor way to reward loyalty and thought free trips was a better reward.

  
AA was an innovator in many fields back in the day. They were the first airline to introduce transcon jet service (using the 707), first to use computerized reservations (with SABRE), as well as the introduction of AAdvantage. I believe they were also the first (or one of the first) to hire females as captains/FOs.

Quoting seatback (Reply 14):
I've never heard this. Can anyone confirm?

I do know that DL1989 was a suspected hijack due to the routing and equipment. It was operating BOS-LAX with a 763, which generally fit the profile of large aircraft operating transcon flights being hijacked. Further, Boston center attempted to make contact with the flight and received no response (because the aircraft was actually in Cleveland airspace and communicating with Cleveland center at the time). Between the profile and the miscommunication, that is why the flight was a suspected hijack, but there was never actually a threat to DL1989.
If you can't take the heat, you best get out of the kitchen
 
ZaphodB
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:19 pm

Years before MRTC AA had the best Y seat pitch of any scheduled airline operating UKUS routes. Although I preferred DLs 1011s there was no mistaking that AAs 762s and M11s were more comfortable (the M11 had 35" seat pitch ... that is not a typo!) and the Y service and food on AA were at least as good as the competition. The exception was the A306s which were very cramped in coach ... but maybe not by modern standards. The seat count on AA's 3-class TATL 762s must have been very low. They were great. I remember being completely stumped the first time I boarded a DL 763 at LGW - the interiors looked tatty and clapped out right from day one and were nowhere near as comfortable as AA's 76s had been.

I guess that's a long way of saying that IMHO, yes, AA was once the premier carrier on UKUS routes at least, regardless of nationality if you flew in coach. UA was nowhere near as good and nor were BA. VS were awful.
 
ORDJOE
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:22 pm

Quoting AA94 (Reply 22):
AA was an innovator in many fields back in the day.

I believe they invented the airline lounge, granted up until the 80's one had to get invited in, how that could be done if you are not a celebrity I am not sure.

They were much better than today, were they as good as a foreign carrier, probably not. Among the US carriers I would say they were premium.
I have read on flyertalk that they served caviar in international and transcon F. When I flew Y to LHR a few months before 9-11 alcohol (even champaign) was free, there were snack baskets with good stuff in the galleys like Toblerone bars and other nice candies. They were definitely a good airline. Also in the 90's they were probably the most respected. UA had a lot of labor issues (sickouts and a other intentional delays) AA kept their nose fairly clean in the 90s.
 
flyfree727
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:33 pm

Quoting ordjoe (Reply 24):
I have read on flyertalk that they served caviar in international and transcon F.

This was common in Transcon F cabins up until mid to late 90's. Cant remember exactly when it ended, but certainly remember setting up the caviar cart in F class,.. complete with fifth's of chilled Stoli vodka.. Also had chilled lobster claws for those that didn't care for the caviar. The credenza in f/c had fresh flowers delivered and fa's had 1 fresh small rose on serving trays. There was a 'carry on" service for f/c pax hand luggage, and I seem to remember that full fare f/c pax would request limo service from Manhattan. Ah..... the days...

AA ORD

[Edited 2012-08-20 15:36:51]
 
Max Q
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:00 am

Quoting bobnwa (Reply 19):

Going back to the sixties seventies and eighties, AA was most definitly the " premier airline" not quite never.

No, if you really want to name the Premier Carrier of that era it has to be Continental.


Under the strict management of Bob Six, the Airlines founder there was no other US Airline that came close.
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
 
ImperialEagle
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:14 am

Quoting AA94 (Reply 22):
AA was an innovator in many fields back in the day.
Quoting bobnwa (Reply 19):
Going back to the sixties seventies and eighties, AA was most definitly the " premier airline"

  

I think it would be fair to say that under the tutelage of C.R.Smith AA consistantly led the way for many years as far as the "Big Four" were concerned. There was hardly any area of commercial aviation that AA was not involved in whether you were talking about engineering, reservations, ticketing, food service, equipment procurement (remember, it was C.R. Smith that talked Douglas' ear off and got the DC-3 built as well as all the other "DC" piston types, then blazed the way with Boeings when the jets appeared-----I think he even talked to AVRO before the Canadian government nixed that jet program. So as a launch customer for the DC-3, 4E, 6, and 7 and oh yeah, the 10 then the L-188, then the domestic 707's, the 727's, 747's, 2707-----!) (Did I miss something?)

Back when the airlines competed with equipment and service standards AA was most certainly "premier".
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough!"
 
usafret
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:45 am

I am loyal to AA due to FF status, but they let the aircraft product slip, the MD-88s so when I get on a new 737 in First, I'm pretty happy with the new seats, same with the 757, having the old brown leather seats is a turn off, but sometimes I land an upgraded 757 with the new seats, pretty nice. The meals in domestic First are very good IMO, but it's sad when a 7 hour flight from DFW-HNL in Y means no meal. I got an upgrade on my status, but to think, no meal in Y for 7 hours? Same with DFW-Anchorage! But I do like Delta's option to buy more leg room in Y as I'm not a big status flyer on DL. In the day though, Pan Am was the Premier airline.
 
flyguy89
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:32 am

Quoting usafret (Reply 28):
but it's sad when a 7 hour flight from DFW-HNL in Y means no meal.

I agree, but to be fair, neither does UA on EWR or ORD to Hawaii, I believe DL still offers complimentary meals in Y though on ATL-HNL.
 
ORDJOE
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:51 am

Quoting usafret (Reply 28):
757, having the old brown leather seats is a turn off, but sometimes I land an upgraded 757 with the new seats, pretty nic

I might be alone on this, but I kind of like those old brown seats.

Quoting usafret (Reply 28):
but it's sad when a 7 hour flight from DFW-HNL in Y means no meal.

The tourists that go to HNL voted with their wallets they would rather save a few buck and go with no meal. I do not blame them, when I took this I just ate a hearty breakfast at the airport, slept the flight and then was in HNL, did not need the slop that would be served in Y
 
incitatus
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:01 am

When I moved to NY in 1996 my VP advised me that travel "would likely end up with American Airlines". AA and UA were the premier carriers for business travel but UA's presence in NY was fairly small. UA was slightly bigger than AA.
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Acey559
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:03 am

Quoting ordjoe (Reply 30):
I might be alone on this, but I kind of like those old brown seats.

I'm a fan of them, myself. They're pretty comfortable too, in my opinion.
 
maxpower1954
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:53 am

Quoting ImperialEagle (Reply 27):
I think it would be fair to say that under the tutelage of C.R.Smith AA consistantly led the way for many years as far as the "Big Four" were concerned. There was hardly any area of commercial aviation that AA was not involved in whether you were talking about engineering, reservations, ticketing, food service, equipment procurement (remember, it was C.R. Smith that talked Douglas' ear off and got the DC-3 built as well as all the other "DC" piston types, then blazed the way with Boeings when the jets appeared-----I think he even talked to AVRO before the Canadian government nixed that jet program. So as a launch customer for the DC-3, 4E, 6, and 7 and oh yeah, the 10 then the L-188, then the domestic 707's, the 727's, 747's, 2707-----!) (Did I miss something?)

Back when the airlines competed with equipment and service standards AA was most certainly "premier".

Don't forget the Convair 990 

Well said. American was easily the best managed of the "Big Four" as AA, UA, EA and TWA were known then. It was the largest U.S. carrier until the the 1961 United/Capital merger. It passed UA again in size during the Crandall years. And sadly, since his retirement it has lacked the kind of leadership that once made it great.
 
AirAfreak
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:01 am

Here is a little credit to where credit is due:

I thoroughly enjoyed flying American Airlines Flagship DC-10 Transcontinental Flagship Service in Business and Economy between Washington/Dulles and Los Angeles. Service was always consistent, the main course excellent, and the yummy ice cream sundaes made AA just as great as Pan Am. And for me to say this, this speaks volumes about the wonderful people at American Airlines.

I also was privileged to fly aboard their newest 767-300 from Los Angeles to Newark. I was an unaccompanied minor (early teenager) at that time, and the flight attendant even sat next to me at the adjacent vacant seat next to me for the last 20 minutes of the flight. We had a lovely conversation about travel and flying.

I believe people stay the same and they are who they are. People do not change. Situations do.

And as I haven't flown American Airlines in over 10 years, I will always have a soft-heart for all of the employees at American. I know there are great people at American. I wish and hope for better work life ahead for all the employees at American.

So, to answer the question to the thread starter, my answer is "yes."
Do you lead an Intercontinental life?
 
SASDC8
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:25 am

Very interesting discussion so far   

Sorry to go of topic, but your discussion made me wonder:

Which is the premier airline in the US, in terms of service on the ground and in the air and on-board product, today?

Cheers
2-3-2 is NOT a premium configuration
 
ImperialEagle
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:28 am

Quoting maxpower1954 (Reply 33):
Don't forget the Convair 990

Ah, yes. However the 240/340/440 types might not have happened without AA's large (launch) order for 240's and that really put Convair on the map at least where piston powered twins were concerned.
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough!"
 
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usdcaguy
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:00 am

I do believe AA used to be the premier carrier. I remember SABRE being lauded as one of the best GDSs, its agents being among the most professional, courteous and knowledgeable in the industry (many still are after all these years), its planes feeling newer than those at other carriers and its DFW hub being one of the most contemporary in the country. Its training facilities used to be among the best as well and that could still be the case. I also remember many people falling over themselves to work for AA; it used to attract MBAs from ivy league universities.

It seems as though AA's management became complacent after 9/11 and wanted to deny that it, the "premier US carrier", had to go through the same restructuring the scrubby little guys had to go through. As we all know, it is now paying the price for waiting so long to declare Ch. 11 and is still trying to reap all the benefits of its JV with BA. It will be years before AA catches up, but I will not forget the carrier it used to be and think other carriers should bear in mind that AA could emerge stronger than before and leverage the heck out of its strengths in its partnerships with BA and JL.
 
tonymctigue
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:24 am

I have to say from my own experiences that I have never found AA to be premier in any make, shape or form. I think AA account for 100% of my worst ever flights. That said, I only ever flew AA post 9/11 and I frequently hear Americans remark at how good they used to be so presumably there was a time where AA was premier in terms of service at least. I agree thought that premier is far too loosly defined to have any realy meaning. Any such system of measurement would have to account for a wide range of factors.

My own personal experience with American carriers is that CO were the hands down the best. I haven't flown with them since they merged with UA but from what I read on this forum, the result of the merger does not sound too good!
Airports: SNN GWY NOC DUB ORK BOS EWR JFK ORD MCI BOI SEA LHR STN CDG LYS FAO GVA HKG MEL ADL HBA
 
delta2ual
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:04 pm

Quoting tommy767 (Reply 8):
DL I don't think was every regarded as very premium. They did have some staple route out of JFK in the late 1990s, but they also had their fair share of low fare pax (Delta Express.)

People have very short memories. Until 1990, when things changed considerably, DL had won practically every airline customer service award for something like 17 years straight. They were known for outstanding service and meals on very short flights. They really epitomized Southern hospitality and incorporated that into their marketing.

Prior to that, CO (think 1960's) was a fantastic airline. They were the premier US airline when it came to service. As someone else mentioned, Robert Six was their CEO and he really turned CO into a fantastic service-oriented airline. Then,of course, came Frank Lorenzo and 2 BK's, but they managed to turn it around again under Bethune.

UA and AA throughout all those year were duking it out for top spot in terms of size. They always had decent service, and chased the business traveler, but they were nothing to write home about.

AA, however, was truly an innovator, especially under Crandall (whom I had the pleasure to meet). FF program, fare structure, 3 classes of service, computerized reservations (SABRE). AA was really at the top of their game. DL, however, is credited by most to have began true hub and spoke operations with their ATL hub.

I'm sure someone else can add more, but I'm not sure what UA contributed. I know they were started by Boeing and their flight attendants had the first FA union (the predecessor to the AFA).

I completed a comprehensive paper/project for my Business degree about the airline industry many years ago and did a lot of research since I was not only an airline enthusiast but an employee.
From the world's largest airline-to the world's largest airline. Delta2ual
 
tommy767
Posts: 4658
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:16 pm

Quoting delta2ual (Reply 39):
I'm sure someone else can add more, but I'm not sure what UA contributed. I know they were started by Boeing and their flight attendants had the first FA union (the predecessor to the AFA).

Well you are right about DL always having amazing customer service. However their international presence skyrocketed with the PA shutdown. They basically got JFK. Before that I think they were confined to ATL and domestic routings.

I'm honestly not sure how premium UA was back in the late 1980s and into early 1990s. They seemed to be very focused on their west coast presence and flying transcons with D10 and 747. By the early 90s they had Heathrow and also IIRC 3-classes of service. They were also big with corporate contracts but I want to say that AA was bigger in places like NYC, LA, DFW, MIA, BNA, RDU, SJC etc. UA might have had the edge in ORD up until 2000. I know that in NJ it's rumored they had a lot of corporate contracts up until the turn of the century since they flew EWR-LHR and NRT for a while.
"KEEP CLIMBING" -- DELTA
 
us330
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:31 pm

I'm going to agree with the general consensus here and say that AA was indeed a premier carrier up until 2001--I'd argue that the brief span of time between the finalization of the purchase of the TWA and 9/11 was the apex of their reign as the premier US carrier.

I'd also argue that AA has a stronger relationship and knowledge of its past and history than any other U.S. carrier, which can lead to a certain air of snobbishness w respect to other carriers (ie the threat of US Airways purchasing AMR).
It is indeed a shame that the airline of innovators and long-range thinkers like Crandall and Smith is now run by the beancounters instead of visionaries.

Quoting ordjoe (Reply 30):
The tourists that go to HNL voted with their wallets they would rather save a few buck and go with no meal. I do not blame them, when I took this I just ate a hearty breakfast at the airport, slept the flight and then was in HNL, did not need the slop that would be served in Y

To be fair, this no meal business is overblown once you get used to it and plan ahead. I'd rather purchase a sandwich beforehand and have it specialized to my taste then play serving cart roulette and risk getting stuck with a meal that's inedible or doesn't taste great.
 
ckfred
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:40 pm

I think AA was the first carrier to use electronic scanners to read boarding passes (initially magnetic stripes on the back of boarding passes). This speeded up the boarding process, since gate agents didn't have to use stickers off of a seating chart, and no-show seats could be turned over to stand-by passengers much faster.
 
questions
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:48 pm

Quoting delta2ual (Reply 39):
DL, however, is credited by most to have began true hub and spoke operations with their ATL hub.

Really?? I thought AA started the hub and spoke strategy.

Quoting us330 (Reply 41):
To be fair, this no meal business is overblown once you get used to it and plan ahead. I'd rather purchase a sandwich beforehand and have it specialized to my taste then play serving cart roulette and risk getting stuck with a meal that's inedible or doesn't taste great.

I totally agree. Didn't a lot of people complain about airline food? Wasn't it the topic of many comedians? I thought for the most part it was considered by airlines to be entertainment to keep passengers from becoming bored. Since airlines have stopped offering Y meals the variety of offerings in the terminals have increased dramatically from the days of hot dogs and popcorn. Also some of the BOB options are better than the former meal offerings. (most content in this paragraph is US centric)
 
tommy767
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:54 pm

Quoting questions (Reply 43):
Really?? I thought AA started the hub and spoke strategy.

They did. DFW and ORD were the first with BNA and RDU following.

DL wasn't nearly as strong in ATL in the 80s because EA was a threat for most of the decade.

Quoting questions (Reply 43):
Also some of the BOB options are better than the former meal offerings. (most content in this paragraph is US centric)

BOB meals have actually come a long way, as sad as it sounds.

In 2005 AA was the first carrier to put BOB on transcons and it was ONLY snack boxes. UA didn't remove transcon meals until 2006, and when they did they came up with Choice Menu which was a notch up the offerings of AA (and still is.) DL got creative too by printing out menus in 2007ish but even their offerings aren't as good as UA, even though they do tend to try.
"KEEP CLIMBING" -- DELTA
 
timz
Posts: 6163
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 1999 7:43 am

RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:36 pm

Quoting questions (Reply 43):
I thought AA started the hub and spoke strategy.

In the 1960s AA didn't have any hub that could compare with Delta at ATL. (Probably nobody else did either?)
 
jetblast
Posts: 950
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 11:19 am

RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:17 pm

Quoting SASDC8 (Reply 35):
Which is the premier airline in the US, in terms of service on the ground and in the air and on-board product, today?

Premier product today? I would have to say none of them.
Speedbird Concorde One
 
Beardown91737
Posts: 812
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RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:49 pm

A good way to look at who was hubbing and when is go to departedflights.com and look at the old route maps. The hubs will be obvious.

Quoting timz (Reply 45):
In the 1960s AA didn't have any hub that could compare with Delta at ATL. (Probably nobody else did either?)

Delta was known as the hub and spoke pioneer way back into the 1960s or even 50s. Eastern also hubbed at ATL.

Quoting Max Q (Reply 26):
No, if you really want to name the Premier Carrier of that era it has to be Continental.

I would agree. I really liked CO back in the pre-Lorenzo days. After that, CO changed their market focus to places I wasn't traveling so I didn't get to see them improve again.

Quoting delta2ual (Reply 39):
I'm sure someone else can add more, but I'm not sure what UA contributed. I know they were started by Boeing and their flight attendants had the first FA union (the predecessor to the AFA).

UA had the first Flight Attendants. Maybe also the first FA union but I doubt the union was their (direct) doing.
135 hrs PIC (mostly PA-28) - not current. Landings at MDW, PIA, JAN.
 
JONC777
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:41 am

RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:00 am

When I was younger I was AA plat. . . and used the status to get CO gold (I think it was little known, but at the time it just took a phone call and a fax of elite status paperwork to get another airline to match the status) .. . After flying in AA first and CO first, I almost always throught CO had the better product. Even 15 years ago AA didn't seem to offer much extra in there first class product as other airliners did. And the food in CO first was MUCH better at the time. . . Lol, My uncle and I have the same name, so when ever he flew he would fly using my FF number, and he agreed CO had better service, even once pulling him out of coach and putting him in first.
 
FI642
Posts: 992
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:48 am

RE: Was AA Really "premier U.S. Airline"?

Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:27 pm

AA was a premier carrier, but times have changed. I remember the days of wonderful meals in F on DL, Riding NW from LGW and having a monster spread with caviar and vodka in F. Clipper Class was nice on PA (until near the end), Braniff... well.

It's difficult to say if there was one premier carrier. Deregulation changed all of that. It's all subjective.
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