The Snowball Express folks lined up on the tarmac in Atlanta with some familiar faces – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz
The sun had yet to rise over the control tower at New York’s JFK Airport on the cold December morning, but the party at Terminal 8 was already well underway. This was no ordinary day at JFK. For the ninth consecutive year, American Airlines was beginning a long day of charter flights, celebration, and remembrance with the Snowball Express program.
Since 2006, Snowball Express has partnered with American Airlines to provide a weekend of fun for families that have lost a family member in active military duty since September 11, 2001. American Airlines provides the flights from around the country free of charge for all families, and the scope of the operation is absolutely massive.
The New York passengers of Snowball Express pre-flight at the Christmas tree in American’s terminal – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz
Throughout the day, flights operate from their origins and converge on Dallas while picking up additional passengers at 62 cities. This year, American utilized ten aircraft to support Snowball Express flights, ranging from regional jets to Boeing 757s and Airbus A321s. In total, over 150 American Airlines pilots and flight attendants donated their time to the charter flights. The Snowball Express operation is larger than that of some entire airlines.
The Snowball flight out of New York, operated by a Boeing 737-800, made two stops along the way to Dallas – Norfolk, Virginia, and Atlanta, Georgia. Before departing JFK, the day kicked off with an upbeat party adjacent to the Admirals Club, complete with DJ, photo booth, and emotional support dogs dressed up like Santa. Before long, it was time to depart for Norfolk, but not before a touching send off from the NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority Police Department, TSA, and JFK employees. Once on board, however, the real fun began.
Continue reading Flying on the Snowball Express with American Airlines
American Airlines’ first Boeing 787-8 being towed at Paine Field – Photo: American Airlines
American Airlines’ first Boeing 787 came out of paint last night giving us a first glimpse at the Dreamliner in AA’s new livery.
When the airline takes delivery, by the end of the year, they will become the second US-based airline to operate the Dreamliner, after United. American has 16 787-8s and 26 of the larger 787-9 Dreamliners on order.
A rear angle of Americans 787 – Photo: American Airlines
Catch more photos of American’s first 787 below.
Continue reading MORE PHOTOS: American Airlines’ First Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Full Livery
The MD-11 was probably a bad idea. McAir came up with the aircraft because it was a bigger, meaner, DC-10. So much DC-10 that there originally was not going to be an MD-11, but a DC-10 stretch. There were two attempts at this aircraft: a DC-10-10 stretched by 40 feet, and a DC-10-30 stretched by 30 feet. Concurrently, McDonnell Douglas (McAir) was concerned about the range of the 747-SP and began work on an ultra-long-range DC-10 Global.
This research lead to an aircraft series called the DC-10 Super 60. The DC-10 Super 60 was going to be a series. A simple stretch, an ultra-long-range variant, and an aircraft optimized for both range and capacity. Unfortunately for McDonnell Douglas, the American Airlines 191 crash happened – summarily executing the DC-10 program. It did not help that there was economic malaise going on at the time, either.
Many MD-11s have been converted to cargo duty. An example arriving at Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney. Photo – Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Being the kings of iteration that they were, in 1981 they decided to revive the large trijet research. Leasing a DC-10-10 from Continental, they studied various winglet configurations in conjunction with NASA. For reasons of marketing, this project would be designated the MD-100. This was an interesting project as it actually offered more engine options than the final MD-11, in the form of the Rolls Royce RB.211. By November 1983, it was clear there was no interest in the MD-100. The board shuttered it. Continue reading The End of the (Passenger, Widebody) Trijet: Saying Goodbye to the MD-11
Business Class on the American A321 – Photo: SouthpawCapture
I live in the Dallas area, and don’t often fly transcon flights. However, I recently needed to go to both LA and New York close to the same time, and I thought it would be fun to try American’s new Airbus A321”T” they are flying between JFK and both LAX and San Francisco.
I am an Executive Platinum AAdvantage member (American’s top-tier elite for the unitiated) so I can often, but not always, upgrade on a regular coach fare. I looked for the flight with the most available seats in business class, reasonably figuring that this would give me the best chance of upgrading. It was a midweek flight leaving LAX at 1 PM, arriving at JFK at around 10 PM local time.
If it’s not obvious, I am a typical top-tier elite member – very spoiled. Sitting in the back of the bus is for the great unwashed, not I. Seriously, no, I am not above sitting back there, and as I make lots of last-minute changes, I often wind up squashed in with everybody else. Plus since I own my business, travel costs come out of my pocket. No high-end business class fares for me.
American’s A321 in flight – Photo: SouthpawCapture
So when you have the opportunity to take “AAdvantage” of the few perks you get with business travel these days, you grab it. Considering this was a five-hour flight and I was already very tired, I was REALLY hoping for the upgrade, to say the least.
When I got to LAX, the upgrade still wasn’t there, and I was pouting. To make things worse, the flight was listed an hour late due to weather in JFK. But about 45 minutes before the flight left the gate, the clouds parted, the sun shone, and the upgrade gods smiled on me. Business class it was, Seat 8F on the new A321.
Continue reading Review of Business Class on American Airlines’ Transcon A321
US Airways Airbus A319 getting work done inside the facility
All photos by Jason Rabinowitz
US Airways has a pretty large fleet of aircraft – over 340. From time to time, every aircraft needs to have some maintenance done to it; some scheduled and some not. We recently were able to take a photo tour of US Airways / American Airlines maintenance facility in Phoenix and wanted to share the photos. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show…
Continue reading Photo Tour of US Airways’ Maintenance Facility in Phoenix