On Sept. 3 and 4, the final American Airlines flights operated on McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft will depart from various airports across the country.
For American, which became the first major U.S. airline to purchase the MD-80 in 1982, the final flights on the aircraft nicknamed “Mad Dog” and “Super 80” mark the end of an era. While only 26 of the long-bodied, metallic-looking aircraft remain in operation for American today, the Dallas-based carrier counted more than 300 MD-80s in its fleet in the early 2000s.
Along with American, other carriers to employ the Mad Dog were Alaska Airlines, Allegiant and Spirit, to name a few. After next week’s flights on American, Delta will become the last U.S. airline to fly an aircraft in the MD-80 family, with plans to retire its MD-90 fleet in 2022.
In an announcement earlier this summer, American released the final revenue flights of the MD-80s scheduled for Sept. 3 and 4, which includes more than 20 departures from airports across the country. After the passenger flights, the aircraft will take ferry flights to a desert “boneyard” in Roswell, New Mexico, where the MD-80s can be used for scrap parts or purchased by a foreign carrier or cargo operator.
Andy Luten, a travel blogger based in Dallas who often flew on MD-80s, found the twin-engine plane to be unique because of its 2-3 seating configuration, which reduced the number of middle seats on the aircraft. Additionally, the seats toward the front of the plane were pushed further away from the engines in comparison to other aircraft designs, allowing for a less-noisy first-class cabin experience.
As a travel blogger, Luten will be on the final passenger flight to Roswell with other media members and American Airlines employees.
“It’s an honor and a responsibility to be on the last flight,” he said. “These aircraft were a third of American’s fleet at one point and have flown passengers millions of miles. Everyone will look back with fond memories of places that plane took us. As a blogger, it will be my responsibility to tell that story well, how an airline says goodbye to such a beloved and foundational aircraft.”
The final American Airlines flights on MD-80 aircraft will take place on Sept. 3 and 4. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)
The final flight for revenue travelers, American Airlines flight 80, is scheduled to depart Dallas-Fort Worth for Chicago O’Hare at 9 a.m. CT on Sept. 4. More than 250 non-revenue passengers (employees of the American Airlines network and their relatives) are currently listed on the standby list for the flight.
Jason Dimaio, a frequent flyer based in the DFW area, guaranteed his seat when people in one of his online frequent traveler groups decided to celebrate the final flight on board together.
“For me, it was a good opportunity to have an event with people of similar circumstance,” he said. “I’ll know maybe 30-40 people on board the flight. What I’m looking forward to most is the stories we’ll share, and new friendships I’ll make, celebrating this moment with them.”
American will replace the MD-80 with larger and more fuel-efficient aircraft including the A321neo, which is new to the airline’s fleet. This year, American designated its Pittsburgh maintenance base as the facility that will perform acceptance checks on the fresh-from-the-factory A321neos, with 17 scheduled to arrive in Pittsburgh in 2019 and more to come in future years.