Last week I had the chance to check out American Airline’s newest aircraft — a Boeing 737-800 with Boeing’s Sky Interior. This is just one step in American renewing their fleet and brand.

The airline is currently in the process of replacing their aging MD-80 aircraft with new Boeing 737s. American plans to retire at least 25 MD-80s in 2011 and it is not exactly known when all MD-80s will be out of service. American will receive an additional 54  Boeing 737s with Sky Interior over the next two years (story continues below photos).

Click photos for larger version. All retrofit photos by American, Sky Interior by Airline Reporter.

The airline plans to upgrade their older 737s to have newer seating and larger bins. In May 2010, American began updating its existing fleet of Boeing 737s.  The retrofit includes the installation of new seats, new cabin interiors, updated in-flight entertainment systems and more storage throughout the aircraft.  The retrofit is slated for completion by the first quarter of 2013. The retrofits will be handled in-house by American employees at the airline’s Maintenance & Engineering base located in Tulsa, OK.

Video:  American Airlines Boeing 737 gets makeover

American is also in the process of updating all Boeing 757s used on domestic routes. Updates include the installation of new seats, new cabin interiors and updated in-flight entertainment throughout the aircraft.  Also, First Class will receive two additional seats, which increases the number of First Class seats from 22 to 24 on each aircraft. The 757 aircraft enhancements began in August 2010 and have a planned completion of December 2015.  As of early May 2011, American has completed upgrades to ten 757s.

American will also be increasing their fleet of Boeing 777s with the addition of five 777-300ERs with deliveries slated for 2012 and 2013. The -300ERs will supplement their -200ERs and will become the largest aircraft that American flies.

“American Airlines has made a significant investment to enrich the flying experience for our customers through the purchase of new aircraft and the refurbishment of our existing fleet,” said Virasb Vahidi, American’s Chief Commercial Officer. “At American, we are focused on providing a differentiated customer experience, with a distinct focus on best delivering what premium customers value most – world-class products and services. The delivery of the first 737-800 with the new Boeing Sky Interior is our most recent step to deliver on this commitment.”

In the past, there have been times where I had serious concerns about American’s future. They had an aging fleet of aircraft and were not merging like other large airlines. They also had a lack of a solid presence on social media and really just weren’t as “fun” as other airlines. It appears that American realizes they need to change the way they do business to better compete against other airlines. American has already spent $5.5 billion in new aircraft, facility enhancements and on-board improvements between 2007 to 2011 and plans to spend more in the future.

American is trying very hard to stay relevant and hoping that customers will take notice of their effort. Will it be enough to survive without a merger? Only time will tell, but it seems American is on a positive track.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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Im probably being thick, but the new bins look nothing like the ones where the LCD screen are being added. They look like the old ones. What am i missing? Or are these on the 757s? Cant they do ‘sky bins’ on those too? And for general info, are the two mutually exclusive?

Hey William,

Actually great question. Unfortunately they cannot put the Sky Interior in older aircraft. So, although they are updating the interiors, they will not look like the new 737s with Sky Interiors.

The LCD monitors will also be installed on the 757s but I was told they will be in the aisle where the current CRTs are located and not pop down like in the 737s.


It looks like AA has a solid plan in mind. If nothing else, there should be reductions in maintenance and operating costs with a newer and younger fleet. Improving the passenger experience always helps as well.

It would have been great for them to make some tweaks to their livery as part of their renewal/rebranding effort. Oh well, can’t have it all!

Well, I am not a fan of their livery and I wish they would update it too. I was a little afraid to ask if there might be any plans to update the livery, but that is on my to-do list.


Haha, touchy topic I’m sure. Approach it very gently. They are badly in need of a livery update. I rank them even with the new Uninental livery. Great in the 80s, and okay in the 90s. Now it’s simply time to go. The unpainted look is the only thing going for it.


Just to say thanks for taking the time and giving great info with a reply. Much appreciated 😀

Of course! I actually meant to go more into that on the blog, and forgot. Glad someone asked.


When will AA get around to doing something to its 767 (domestic) fleet? It’s in a pretty sad state – planes are old, interiors are old, technology (entertainment + electronics) is old. Yet this is the flagship used for transcon service and which AA markets for 3-class service to premium customers. How about some love to the 767 fleet?

Tom Carroll

Hi David,

As a long-time American customer, it’s great to see that they’re finally investing in upgrading the fleet (we’ve waited too long for this). Do you have any details on the new seating? It seems that American has forgotten that Americans have both grown upward and outward and those AA seats have been, in my experience, the worst of any US domestic airline. Thanks so much for all of your continued work on this site–I LOVE Airline Reporter!


Hey Tom,

It is more about the limit of the aircraft. I actually did a story a while back looking at the seat widths on Boeing 737 and Airbus A320s ( They are all pretty much the same. Unless an airline would want to go to a 2-3 layout, which would mean a big raise in fares.


Do you know what the AA Airbus order is? The breakdown of 319s, 320s,321s.

AA NEEDS to at least finish (first half of aircraft was updated somewhat but the last half was not!)to its 767 International (and domestic) fleet!! It’s in a very sad state – planes are old, interiors are old, technology (entertainment + electronics) is old and barely functioning! Yet this is the flagship used for Trans-Con flights (which AA markets as 3-class 767-200s)& (2-class on Transoceanic 767-300s)to its premium passengers? A small handful of 767-300s had wing-let’s installed. How about some love for the 767 fleet!

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