History of American Airlines
A history of many generations and industry firsts
American was founded more than 95 years ago and has a deep-rooted history leading the industry through innovation and firsts, including hiring the first Black U.S. commercial airline pilot, hiring the first female U.S. commercial airline pilot, launching the first loyalty program of any major carrier and becoming the first airline to introduce airport lounges.
American’s long, proud history begins when legendary aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, the chief pilot of Robertson Aircraft Corporation, stowed a bag of mail in his DH-4 biplane and took off from St. Louis to Chicago. Robertson is counted as one of the many airlines that would make up what is now American Airlines.
American becomes the first airline to fly the Douglas DC-3 in commercial service between New York to Chicago.
- All American Aviation, later US Airways, is founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- American begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
American becomes the first airline to introduce airport lounges for customers.
American operates its first scheduled air cargo flights from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, marking the world’s first scheduled air cargo service.
American begins operating trans-Atlantic service for the first time with American Overseas Airlines.
American establishes its maintenance and engineering base in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
American promotes Carlene Roberts, the industry’s first female vice president.
American pioneers nonstop transcontinental service across the United States with the Douglas DC-7.
American opens the world’s first special training facility for flight attendants — originally known as stewardesses — in Fort Worth, Texas, named the American Airlines Stewardess College.
American launches the first scheduled transcontinental U.S. passenger service with the Boeing 707, from Los Angeles to New York Idlewild (now John F. Kennedy International Airport).
American hires David Harris, the first Black U.S. commercial airline pilot.
American launches American Way, the airline’s inflight magazine.
The legendary C.R. Smith retires as Chief Executive, having led the airline for more than 30 years.
American merges with Trans Caribbean Airways, gaining new Caribbean routes.
American hires Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, the first female pilot to join a major U.S. commercial airline.
American launches SuperSaver fares, offering discounted fares that required an advance purchase.
American introduces AAdvantage®, the first airline loyalty program.
America West commences operations in Tempe, Arizona.
American introduces the American Eagle system.
American announces plans to expand its Latin American service with routes from Eastern Airlines.
American celebrates its 1 billionth customer.
All American flights become nonsmoking.
The oneworld® Alliance is launched by founding members American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines International, Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways.
- American announces plans to acquire Trans World Airlines assets.
- American tragically loses 23 people, including pilots, flight attendants and family members, in the events surrounding Sept. 11 on Flights 11 and 77.
US Airways merges with America West.
American introduces mobile boarding passes.
AMR Corporation and US Airways Group officially form the American Airlines Group.
- American Airlines Group is added to the S&P 500 index.
- American flies its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner revenue flight.
- American's Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center opens in Fort Worth.
- US Airways flies its last flight, Flight 1939.
- American and US Airways begin operating as 1 airline with a Single Passenger Service System.
American celebrates its 90th birthday.
Air Transport World magazine names American its 2017 Airline of the Year.
- American names its 300-acre campus in Fort Worth the Robert L. Crandall Campus in honor of the airline’s former chairman and CEO.
- American’s Skyview 7 and Skyview 8 facilities open for nearly 6,000 leadership and support staff team members in Fort Worth.
- American retires the last of its MD-80 aircraft after 36 years as the workhorse of the airline's fleet.
- American celebrates 75 years of cargo operations.
American accelerates its fleet simplification initiative with the retirement of 5 fleet types.
- American celebrates its 95th birthday by helping to grant 95 wishes with a donation of 10 million AAdvantage® miles to Make-A-Wish.
- American retires American Way.
- American becomes the first airline globally to receive validation from the Science Based Targets initiative for its 2035 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
- The oneworld® Alliance relocates its global headquarters to Fort Worth.
- American’s 600-room Skyview 6 Hospitality Complex opens on its Robert L. Crandall Campus.
- Air Transport World magazine names American its 2023 Eco-Airline of the Year.