N557AN, an MD-82 spotted at MCI in 2013.

N557AN, an MD-82 spotted on the ramp at MCI in 2013.

Love them or hate them, American’s MD-80s are on the way out. This should not come as a shock as we’ve known for years the day was eventually coming. But late last month American Airlines announced details for the MadDog’s final day of operations. Mark your calendars, folks. September 4 is the day the “Super 80s” carry passengers off into the sunset one last time.

When I mention the upcoming retirement to friends, the majority of responses are positive. It seems the general consensus is that these DC-9 descendants have overstayed their welcome in the AvGeek and frequent flyer worlds. While few folks seem willing to admit they will miss the MD-80s, I fully expect it will only be a matter of time. For decades the MadDogs were ubiquitous. Airports just won’t be the same without them.

No matter how we feel, these retirement dates tend to sneak up on us. The official final flight on September 4 is sold out, but there remain many options to get out for a goodbye flight, including many options on the final day of operation…

N433AA seen in KC in 2009, before the AA overhaul base closed.

N433AA seen in KC in 2009, before the AA overhaul base closed.

American Air MD-80 Fleet Detail

Despite a reputation for being old and dated, the average fleet age for those which remain is just shy of 21 years. That’s not terribly old in aircraft years. Aviation history buffs might recall that the final DC-9 flight operated by Delta was aboard a nearly 36-year-old airframe.

Just 28 American Air MD-80s remain in service today. Two (N9618A and N980TW) will retire in August. Between 1997 and 1999 TWA accepted delivery of all but one of the remaining silver birds. N501AA is special and sticks out for two reasons. First, it is the last active Super 80 which American received directly from McDonnell Douglas. It is also the oldest with a delivery date of October 30, 1989.

Final AA MD-80 flight map. - Image: Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Final AA MD-80 flight map. – Image generated with Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Book your farewell flight today

We reached out to American Air PR and chatted with resident MD-80 expert Linda Brock who provided us with fleet details and some base-level guidance on where folks might still find MD-80 service. Above is a map showing city pairs with MD-80 service on the September 4, the final day of operation. A few additional cities still have MD-80 service to DFW, including my home base here in Kansas City, MO.

If your favorite city pair isn’t listed, perhaps a quick search on FlightRadar24 or simply looking at equipment listed on AA’s booking page can help.

Big takeaway here? DFW is where it’s at. Does anyone fancy a trip to Dallas for old time’s sake?

N576AA above LAX's famous spotting park across from In-N-Out in 2015.

N576AA above LAX’s famous spotting park across from In-N-Out in 2015.

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - LEE'S SUMMIT, MO. JL is a self described “medium shot” at a non-aviation industry Fortune-500. He’s a semi-frequent traveler, social media addict and avid planespotter. A proud Midwesterner, he’s based in Lee’s Summit, MO, a suburb of Kansas City. Email: jl@airlinereporter.com

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8 Comments
Blair Kooistra

As a resident of the DFW area since 1996, I didn’t get into this hobby until 2013 or so–horrors of what I’d missed if I’d just paid attention earlier! By that time, of course, the MD-80 derivatives ruled American’s fleet here. This really was the aircraft that saved the airline following its bankruptcy. Between the Mad Dogs and the 737’s, these things were coming out of our ears here, and you know what they say about familiarirty breeding comtempt!
Fast-forward to today, and from about 300 of them to less than 30, watching them arrive or depart is worth savoring the moment. On a cloudy day, that roar from a Mad Dog starting its takeoff roll bounces off the low cloud deck and washes over the observer at the airport’s Founders Plaza viewing area. I’m going to miss them. Taking one more round-trip on them this weekend. . .hopefully I can score a seat in the rear of the bird to enjoy that deafening thrum from the JT8D’s on either side of hte fuselage!

Thanks for reading, and for the comment, Blair! I too was a late AvGeek bloomer. Embrace what you can and try not to dwell on the missed opportunities. Speaking from experience, I know it’s hard. Anyway, happy flighting!

Chuck in MO

Living in STL I flew countless times on Ozark/TWA DC-9s and MD-80s. Loved ’em. Put me on the list as one who will miss those birds.

Ben August

I’ll miss the 5-abreast coach seating and, of course, the difference of the design. And the old AA paint scheme. 🙁

mukesh

thanks for giving me valuable information regarding about american airlines Announces Schedule of Final MD-80 Revenue Flights

Bumble

I’m going to be the jerk of the group and comment on what unpleasant rides those birds were. AA crammed them in there almost as bad as their MAXes but decades earlier, and if you were flying transcontinental connecting through DFW or ORD, you were all but guaranteed a six-hour ride of misery on these minimalist chrome garbage cans. Applying nostalgia to the retirement of the AA MD-80s is absurd, but because they’ve been around so long and AA had f’ing hundreds of them, they somehow tug on the heartstrings because they were so commonplace. Good riddance.

Hey, thanks for reading.

I don’t know that your opinion is as controversial as you expect. In fact we just rode on one this weekend and it was… only OK. Your opinion is valued. Appreciate you taking to time to weigh in.

JL Johnson / AirlineReporter

Bumble,
I do agree somewhat. If you are in the back of the MD88 you get ears ringing and a wonderful engine view out the window. However there is/was something cool about flying in a DC9/MD88-90/717 that will be missed.

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