Beautifully engraved Certificate from the American Airlines
issued no later than 1978. This historic document was printed by the Security Columbian Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an allegorical man with an airport in the background. This item has the printed signatures of the company's officers (G. A. Spater as Chairman) and is
over 24 years old.
On the morning of April 15, 1926, a young aviator named Charles A. Lindbergh stowed a bag of mail in his little DH-4 biplane and took off from Chicago for St. Louis. Later that day, he and two other pilots flew three planeloads of mail from St. Louis to Chicago.
At the time, Lindbergh was chief pilot for Robertson Aircraft Corporation of Missouri, which was the second aviation company to hold a U.S. airmail contract. It was one of scores of companies that eventually consolidated to form the modern-day American Airlines.
The consolidation began in 1929, when The Aviation Corporation was formed to acquire young aviation companies, including Robertson. In 1930, The Aviation Corporation’s airline subsidiaries were incorporated into American Airways, Inc. In 1934, American Airways became American Airlines, Inc.
On May 13, 1934, Cyrus Rowlett Smith became president of American. Except for a period during World War II, "Mr. C.R." continued as chief executive officer until 1968, when he was named U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
On June 25, 1936, American was the first airline to fly the Douglas DC-3 in commercial service. By the end of the decade, American was the nation’s number one domestic air carrier, in terms of revenue passenger miles. On February 16, 1937, American carried its one-millionth passenger.
In 1942, American entered the airline catering business with a subsidiary called Sky Chefs – providing food service to its passengers, as well as to other airlines.
In 1944, American introduced the first domestic scheduled U.S. freight service with the DC-3. As the business grew, Douglas DC-4, DC-6A and DC-7 freighters were put into service in the 1940s and 1950s.
During World War II, half of American’s fleet was turned over to the military airline, Air Transport Command, along with the crews who operated all over the world. The remaining fleet and personnel handled a vast increase in demand for air travel within the United States.
From 1945 to 1950, American operated American Overseas Airlines (AOA), a trans-Atlantic division, which served a number of European countries – American’s first European service. AOA was formed as a result of a merger between the international division of American and a company called American Export Airlines. AOA merged with Pan American World Airways in 1950.
In 1946, American established its Tulsa Maintenance & Engineering Base.
The end of World War II brought a series of new aircraft to fill the expanded need for air transportation. In 1947, American’s first Douglas DC-6 entered service, followed by the Convair 240 in 1948. By 1949, American had become the only airline in the United States with a completely post-war fleet of pressurized passenger airplanes.
In 1948, American introduced the Family Fare Plan to enable families to travel together at reduced rates. It also introduced scheduled coach service, an economical and comfortable alternative to first class travel.
In 1952, American introduced the Magnetronic Reservisor to keep track of available seats on flights. In 1953, American pioneered nonstop transcontinental service in both directions across the United States with the Douglas DC-7. In 1957, the world’s first special facility for flight attendant training, the American Airlines Stewardess College, was built in Dallas/Fort Worth.
On January 25, 1959, American became the first airline to offer coast-to-coast jet service with the Boeing 707. Also in January 1959, American introduced the Lockheed Electra, the first U.S. designed turboprop airplane. American continued into the jet age with the introduction of the turbofan engine in 1961, another industry first for American, and with the Convair 990 in 1962, also powered by fanjets.
At the end of 1959 and into the early 1960s, American, teaming up with IBM, introduced and implemented a Semi-Automated Business Research Environment (SABRE), the largest electronic data processing system for business use. By 1964, the SABRE network extended from coast to coast and from Canada to Mexico. It became the largest real-time data processing system, second only the U.S. government’s SAGE system.
American added other jets throughout the 1960s and 70s, including the Boeing 727 (1964) and the Boeing 747 (1970), as the older aircraft were retired. American’s last piston engine-powered airplane flight was operated with a DC-6 in December 1966. In 1968, American was the first to order the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, which made its first scheduled flight in August 1971.
American gained its first Caribbean routes through a merger with Trans Caribbean Airways in 1970. It expanded those routes throughout the early ‘70s, including routes obtained in 1975 from Pan American World Airways Inc.
In February 1974, Albert V. Casey was elected president and chief executive officer; in April, he also assumed the position of chairman of the board.
Also in 1974, American introduced One-Stop Automated Check-in. American’s first Boeing 747 freighter, capable of carrying 221,000 pounds of cargo, went into service in November. In 1975, American began marketing SABRE to travel agencies in the U.S.
On April 24, 1977, American introduced the most popular fare in its history, the Super Saver – initially offering discount fares from New York and California, it was expanded to all of American’s routes in March 1978 and later to Mexico and Canada.
Airline deregulation took place in 1978, and in January 1979, American had a major route expansion when the airline inaugurated service to new routes and new destinations across the U.S. and the Caribbean.
American moved its headquarters from the New York metropolitan area to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, in 1979. The new headquarters complex included The Learning Center – a training facility, the Flight Academy – the pilot training facility, and the Southern Reservations Office.
In 1980, Robert L. Crandall was elected president and chief operating officer.
With fuel costs soaring, American accelerated the retirement of the Boeing 707 fleet in 1980. By
August 1981, American had retired all its Boeing 707s aircraft, including freighters.
In 1981, American introduced the AADVANTAGE travel awards program, a revolutionary marketing program to reward frequent fliers and "AAirpass," a concept that guaranteed fixed personal and business air travel costs with a five-year to a lifetime range option.
On June 11, 1981, American established its Dallas/Fort Worth hub. Later, American added new cities and new routes to strengthen its hub-and-spoke networks.
Early 1982 brought American its first 767, its 500-millionth passenger and its Chicago hub.
In April 1982, it began interchange service with Alaska Airlines, linking Anchorage and Fairbanks with Houston and DFW via Seattle with 727s. American also returned to Europe with service between London’s Gatwick Airport and DFW in May 1982.
On May 19, 1982, stockholders approved a plan of reorganization, and a new holding company was formed, AMR Corporation, and became the parent company to American Airlines, Inc.
In 1983, American added the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (Super 80) and announced an agreement with Pan American World Airways to exchange its Boeing 747s for Pan Am’s McDonnell Douglas DC-10s.
On December 12, 1983, AMR Services was formed as a subsidiary to provide aviation services to other airlines.
In 1984, Al Casey retired and Robert L. Crandall became chairman and chief executive officer of AMR Corporation and American Airlines.
In 1984, American introduced the American Eagle system – a network of regional airlines offering high- level service from small communities to large cities through connections to/from American Airlines.
In the fall of 1984, American retired its cargo freighter fleet and focused on smaller shipments carried on its passenger aircraft.
Ultimate Super Saver fares were introduced in 1985, offering American passengers up to 70 percent discounts and competition to the low-service, cut-rate carriers, which had sprung up in the wake of deregulation. American also unveiled its Senior SAAVers Club, which offered discounts to senior citizens.
In 1985, American introduced second-day, door-to-door freight delivery using passenger aircraft. In 1986 and 1987, the delivery network expanded and evolved into same-day service by 1988.
By 1985, more than 10,000 travel agency offices were using SABRE for travel reservations.
American opened its Nashville hub in April 1986 and its San Juan hub in November. Also in 1986, American employees topped 50,000 for the first time, and American sold its Sky Chefs subsidiary.
By 1987, American had completed a secure underground facility – secured against fire, earthquakes and any other disasters – in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to house the SABRE computer equipment and software – the world’s largest private real-time computer network and travel information data base. Also in 1987, SABRE became available via the personal computer.
In 1988, American acquired the Airbus A300-600ER to serve its Caribbean markets from locations on the mainland and in 1989, American put its first Boeing 757 into service.
Also in 1989, American opened its seventh hub in Miami on September 13. American also began construction on its second major maintenance base at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth. Ground was also broken in Fort Worth for a 750,000-square-foot expansion of AMR’s corporate headquarters complex.
Ground was broken again in 1990 for the expansion of American’s facilities at DFW International Airport, an expansion of the pilot training facilities at American’s Flight Academy in the headquarters’ complex, and a new reservations center in Tucson. Also, a new state-of-the-art System Operations Control (SOC) center opened in 1990.
Also in 1990, American’s premier international service, International Flagship Service, was introduced. San Juan’s new reservations center opened, and American expanded its Latin American service with routes acquired from Eastern Airlines, with Miami as the focal point of the expansion.
American’s long-time president, C.R. Smith, died at the age of 90 in 1990.
In 1991, American flew its one-billionth passenger, expanded its European routes, opened its western reservations office in Tucson, and took delivery of its first McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and Fokker 100 aircraft.
On January 16, 1992, American opened the first state-of-the-art airline maintenance facility to be built in the United States in more than 20 years – Alliance Maintenance and Engineering Base in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Alliance Airport.
In 1992, American introduced the Value Pricing Plan – the plan was designed to make fares simple, sensible and fair and to offer customers substantially greater travel flexibility and was a major revision to American’s fare structure. Intense price competition made the Value Plan unfeasible, however, and American was forced to abandon it.
AMR Consulting Group, a new subsidiary, was formed in 1992 to take advantage of a growing demand for consulting services in airline-related businesses. This expanded into the AMR Training and Consulting Group in July 1993.
Also in 1992, American introduced American Flagship Service, a premium three-class transcontinental service for domestic travelers and also continued its expansion in the European market with flights to Berlin and Paris.
In 1993, AMR Corporation formed the SABRE Technology Group, which included the AMR Information Services (AMRIS), SABRE Travel Information Network (STIN), SABRE Computer Services (SCS), SABRE Development Services (SDS), and AMR Project Consulting and Risk Assessment units.
On July 3, 1993, the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum opened at its headquarters complex in Fort Worth.
In April 1994, American signed a comprehensive service agreement with Canadian Airlines International to provide access to state-of-the-art airline administrative services and computer technology. Canadian successfully converted to AMR computer systems in November 1994.
In May 1994, American added additional routes to London to become the airline with more service to Britain than any other U.S. airline. Also in 1994, American launched its first non-smoking transatlantic flight.
In October of 1994, American launched its First Call service, allowing travel planners to speak with a group specialist to evaluate group travel needs, negotiate fares, book space and generate agreements in minutes.
In 1995, Don J. Carty became president of the AMR Airline Group and of American Airlines. Also in 1995, American launched AA.com as a source of information for AA customers (a reservations functionality was added to the site in 1996).
In 1996, AMR announced the SABRE Group’s filing for Initial Public Offering (IPO) in first the step to make SABRE its own company.
In September 1996, American officially launched AAccess ticketless travel and AAccess boarding. Also in 1996, American added in-flight laptop computer capabilities to its aircraft and announced that it would add defibrillators onto certain aircraft.
In 1997, all of American flights became non-smoking flights. Also, American introduced "stickerless" upgrades and became the first airline to expand ticketless travel to all transatlantic flights. Also in 1997, American introduced the College SAAver program.
On May 20, 1998, Donald J. Carty became chairman, president and chief executive officer of AMR Corporation and American Airlines, Inc. upon the retirement of Robert Crandall.
In 1998, American announced the addition of defibrillators to all of its aircraft, the first of American Eagle’s regional jets entered service. Also, plans for a new Dallas reservations center were announced. Also in 1998, American announced its acquisition of Reno Air and American Eagle’s acquisition of Business Express. American Eagle completed its acquisition of Business Express in March 1999, and Reno Air was fully integrated on August 31, 1999. Regional jet delivery
On September 21, 1998, American and four other airlines announced a new customer-driven global alliance – oneworldÔ – launching a multi-million dollar program designed to raise the standard of global air travel. The new alliance took off on February 1, 1999.
In 1999, American dedicated the new Terminal B facilities at DFW and announced plans to build a new terminal at JFK and broke ground in New York in November.
In 1999, American introduced into service the new Boeing 777 and the 737-800 and also completed the installation of defibrillators on all its aircraft. Also, American became the first airline to offer DVD in-flight players on scheduled flights.
Also in 1999, American began an expansion of its West Coast service in the United States, and American Eagle opened a new terminal in Los Angeles. Also, American Eagle took delivery of its first 37-seat Embraer ERJ-135.
In February 2000, American announced its More Room Throughout Coach initiative – the removal of seats in coach to add legroom to the coach cabin. American later extended this concept to its business class seats and overhead storage bins.
Also in 2000, AMR completed its spin-off of SABRE into its own company, and the company introduced the OnTime, OnLine employee PC program.
In 2000, American announced plans to renovate Terminal B at Boston’s Logan Airport and also announced the addition of fully flat Flagship Suite seating for its Boeing 777. Also, American named Alliance as the "maintenance home" for its 777 fleet.
In January 2001, American announced plans to purchase the assets of TransWorld Airline (TWA). The TWA deal closed in April 2001, and American acquired approximately 180 jets, a St. Louis hub and 20,000 employees. Also in April, American Airlines celebrated 75 years of service with festivities in Chicago and St. Louis.