An American Boeing 787-8 (N812AN) at LAX; the 787-9 is a stretched version of the -8
This story has been updated to include new information about the availability of premium economy and anticipated dates for domestic operations.
American Airlines today announced new details and routes for its newest addition to the fleet, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (789), which is set to arrive in the last quarter of this year. While American already operates 17 Boeing 787-8s (788s), four of the stretched -9s, with new business class seats and a cabin configuration to include a new Premium Economy section, will be delivered by the end of December 2016, with a total of 22 on order.
The 789s will initially be based out of American’s home base, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW), and on November 4 will commence service to Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) and Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU).
AirlineReporter has received exclusive details on the inaugural route the 789 will actually fly…
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.
Large models illustrating Southwest’s special liveries hang in the atrium of the company’s HQ
For years I have connected at Dallas Love Field and peered across the aircraft operations area, staring at the home of Southwest Airlines, hoping to one day visit LUV HQ. In the effort of transparency, I’ve made little attempt to conceal my preference for the airline, and we’ll discuss why I think that they’re the best in a bit. But here’s a hint: It’s the culture.
I have a hand-full of friends who work for Southwest and follow a bunch of their employees on Instagram who occasionally post photos from the inside. My desire for a visit intensified when I became aware that the company had recently opened a large addition to their Dallas footprint, just across the street from their long-standing centralized DAL-based HQ. The building, affectionately known as TOPS (for Training and Operations Support), drastically expands the company’s capabilities and makes room for employees of the largest domestic airline to spread their wings.
Southwest Airlines tail – Photo: David Parker Brown
After 12 years in corporate America, I have become a self-described boring, stodgy, business-type guy. I think that’s one of the reasons I am so attracted to Southwest’s culture. Because, it’s tough to not have a fun time around people who clearly enjoy their careers and are vested in the mission of their company.
On a recent late-night flight, an attendant came over the intercom to tell us they were turning down the lights and that we were welcome to turn on our overhead lighting. “If you want, push the button with a picture of a light bulb on it.” She continued, “However, pushing the button with the picture of a flight attendant on it will not turn on the flight attendant.”
It was late, we were all tired, and I think it’s fair to say the cabin had let their guard down. This unexpected bit of humor solicited a chuckle from me and a large portion of my 737-trekking peers. It’s these small, unexpected, fun experiences after a long draining day of meetings, charts, and presentations that I have come to rely upon as a part of my decompression ritual.
American Airline's flight crew are ready to welcome guests to see the new Sky Interior at Boeing's delivery center at Boeing Field (BFI).
Yesterday American Airlines took delivery of their first Boeing 737-800 (N867NN) with the new Boeing Sky Interior. I felt privileged to hitch a ride on the airplane during its delivery flight from Boeing Field to Dallas-Fort Worth with American and other invited guests.
Before getting outside to see the aircraft and interior we had to go through a little security. There was a conveyor belt and metal detector, but no requirement to remove shoes, laptops or put your toiletries in a ziploc bag — nice.
The aluminum fuselage glistened in the sun outside Boeing’s delivery center waiting to fly passengers for the first time. After the ribbon was cut and photos were taken, it was time to check out the new Sky Interior first hand.
You have to love walking onto a brand spanking new plane and breathing that new-plane smell. There is something to be said about flying on a plane with only 21 other people (including the pilots) on its delivery flight from an airport that doesn’t see scheduled jet service.
Although I thought the ceiling lighting was going to be the most noticable aspect when entering the 737, I was actually first drawn to the new window openings and clean interior walls. Being an airline nerd, I spend a good chunk of my time staring out the window and this was a welcomed sight.
The Boeing Sky Interior on American's newest Boeing 737-800 (N867NN).
A combination of the larger window openings, blue lighting in the ceiling and new luggage bins, there really is a sense of space with the new Sky Interior. Boeing allows airlines to customize their lighting and American has pre-programmed the following:
* Boarding and de-boarding: blue top, white side lights
* Take off and landing: blue on top and blue on the side
* Cruise: wall lights are off, top is blue
* Night/Sleep: dark blue on the ceiling, wall lights are off
* Meal: Amber on top and side
* Sunrise/Sunset During Takeoff/Landing: Deep orange tones
On top of the nifty colors, the overhead bins have been improved to mimic the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s bins. They are larger and are able to hold more luggage (48 more bags to be exact in the 737-800). They also fold up into the ceiling to provide more cabin space. If you are 6’1″ you will still hit your head while standing, but those of shorter stature should have better luck.
Even though the windows are the same size in the fuselage, the new interior shows more of the window.
Probably more noticeable to flight attendants, the call button has been moved away from the light buttons, helping to reduce the chance of a passenger trying to turn on their light, but instead hitting the call button.
The American interiors on the 737 are newer than other aircraft in their fleet and aren’t too bad, but after seeing the new interior, the standard interior looks a bit aged and cramped.
The new Boeing 737-800 with Sky Interior is part of American’s fleet renewal plan. Later in the week I will go into more detail on American Airline’s future plans to let customers know they mean business.
CHECK OUT ALL 30 PHOTOS FROM THE DELIVERY FLIGHT