American Airlines Headquarters Is AvGeek Heaven

Filed Under: American

On Tuesday I had the chance to tour American Airlines’ headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas (I’m in Dallas for an unrelated reason, which I’ll save for another post).

I can count on one hand the number of airline headquarters I’ve visited, though this one is special, because it’s kind of made for aviation geeks. In this post I wanted to provide a quick picture tour of this very impressive complex.

Basics of American Airlines’ Fort Worth headquarters

American Airlines opened its new headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas just over a year ago, in September 2019. American Airlines claims the headquarters cost $350 million, while DFW Airport claims that the entire 300-acre campus will be a $1 billion investment by the airline (the campus technically sits on DFW’s land).

The current headquarters consists of at least eight buildings, and the campus is known as “Skyview.” Each building is assigned a number, one through eight.

American’s new headquarters isn’t even completely done. The airline is building a 600 room hotel intended to house employees who are in training (especially for flight attendants and pilots), though for now that has been put on pause, as American is looking to cut capital expenditures.

It goes without saying that the timing of all of this likely wasn’t ideal. American has cut its management and support staff by somewhere around 30%, and most of the remaining staff are only coming into the office roughly one day per week, and are otherwise working from home.

Picture tour of American Airlines’ Skyview campus

American Airlines’ headquarters definitely feels very 21st century, so let’s take a look at it. As an aviation geek you’ll notice that just about everything is airline and airplane themed, either in a very obvious way, or at least subtly.

Skyview 8 is the center of American Airlines’ headquarters.

There are temperature checks as you enter, and everyone is required to wear a mask at all times.

When you enter Skyview 8 there’s a massive rotunda of sorts, with the ceiling is meant to look like a jet engine. You’ll immediately notice the variety of workspace options, though there are no offices here — yes, even Doug Parker just has a cubicle.

I loved the amount of airplane themed displays, ranging from landing gear, to safety card displays, to massive seatbelts, to aircraft tails, to engines, to aircraft wheels.

There are monitors all over the place, listing everything from the carrier’s number of daily on-time departures, to the daily completion factor.

There’s even a traditional flap display departures board.

Different communal areas to get away from your desk have specific airport themes.

Meanwhile different private conference rooms are dedicated to particular employees.

In general I was surprised that the furniture didn’t match what you’d find in an Admirals Club or Flagship Lounge. I’m not sure why I was expecting that, but… 😉 Instead the furniture was… significantly less generic.

There were all kinds of dining venues throughout headquarters, ranging from a cafeteria, to a coffee shop, to a grab-and-go market.

There’s also a studio, where every video you see produced from American headquarters is filmed.

Skyview also had all kinds of other leisure areas, from pool tables to billiard tables. That being said, this wasn’t like one of those new-age tech campuses where you have everything from a gym to a swimming pool to a basketball court.

                  

Frankly the thing that stood out most to me about this visit is just how many people work on the back-end to make airlines function the way they do. Sure, I knew that was the case in theory, but it really puts things into perspective when you see just how much space there is in a building like this.

This is a really cool office, but…

I’ve never worked for a big company, or in a formal office environment. So perhaps the logical follow-up question is “so, with an office this cool, do you wish you worked in the corporate world?”

Heck no. I absolutely loved visiting, but I couldn’t imagine coming into an office like this every day. Not because it isn’t beautiful, but because I’m an introvert, and I would find this kind of environment to be incredibly exhausting (even though there are plenty of areas where introverts can go to escape here).

I fully recognize that I’m lucky that I have this kind of flexibility, though I also know plenty of people who have the opposite perspective that I do. I’ve had friends who are now forced to work from home message me and say “how do you do this, I’m about to lose it?”

Different folks, different strokes. Winston is the only (home) office companion I’ll ever need…

Sorry, it’s the COVID-19 era, so I should have posted this picture…

Bottom line

American Airlines’ new headquarters opened in 2019, and it’s a ridiculously impressive building that any aviation geek will love. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to visit, as I haven’t been to many airline headquarters (by design). As far as I know, American is the only US airline to have offices this new and modern.

For better or worse I’m sure I didn’t get a true sense of the buzz this place usually has, given how eerily quiet it was.

What do you make of American Airlines’ headquarters?

Comments
  1. Should visit Ryanairs HQ, it’s surprisingly nice for the budget airline they are, with a slide and all, had a nice experience there.

  2. @ Sam — Hah, I asked about that. There was bad weather in the northeast, so they had a low target, I guess.

  3. Def not good PR for them to show a flashy new headquarters right now. Clearly they aren’t economizing when it comes to how their executives live.

  4. @ Mark G. — Just to clear, I was there to meet someone and had asked for an informal tour of headquarters. I get the timing isn’t great, but in American’s defense, this wasn’t in any way pitched as a “come see our glitzy new headquarters that we spent hundreds of millions of dollars on.”

  5. “I’m in Dallas for an unrelated reason, which I’ll save for another post”

    I wondered how long you’d last in freezing cold Germany when it’s 80 degrees in Miami.

  6. Did you get a visual of Doug Parker ?
    He must be somewhere in the Caribbean with his family for the holidays.

  7. Nothing but open cubicles everywhere is my nightmare. Thats but pass, I’ll stick to my outdated 70s brink office with a door & a window.

  8. Interesting, thanks for sharing @Ben. I have been thinking a lot about how we work in office jobs, obvioulsy due the virus and the subsequent homeoffice regulations imposed by governments and employers. As a result, I value offices much higher than I did before. The quality of the work we produce (and not only the work quality, i.e. the well being) has deteriorated a lot with home office.

    I’m an academic, working primarily in research. We essentially produce articles and reports, which most people would assume can be written at home with the same quality as in the office. But unfortunately that’s not the case: I’ve noticed a sharp decline of the quality of the work produced by my department, but also elsewhere (I’m also an editor of a scholarly journal). I do not exempt myself, my articles and reports submitted ín Q2/3 are much worse than the ones submitted in Q1 or last year. Meanwhile, we have taken corrective action – in particular to meet physically (wearing masks, desinfecting hands and any articles we touch).

    Back to AA: I think it’s great to work in such an office space and it will be rewarded with superior results.

  9. 3,656 Americans died of corona virus yesterday and you are travelling around? This is absolutely reprehensible.

    Could you not have done your meeting via Zoom?

  10. This is amazingly impressive! Even though I left the corporate world over a decade ago and work from home and on the road, I would love to work in this environment. It’s beautiful inside and out. Thanks for sharing this!

  11. Some of that furniture looks more style over substance/comfort.

    Too many offices have gone to open office concepts which suck for people working on difficult problems. Too much noise and now germs flying everywhere. I’m glad I’m in a cube which provides some isolation and some buffer on noise.

    Personally I think working from home is hugely more productive in my tech world. Unfortunately I could only do that for about 6 weeks. Coming into an office is depressing, bad food, noise, lots of non-work related conversions, sick people, long commute, etc.

    You can easily talk to people via various online tools if needed. And my computer equipment is much better at home.

    What other HQs have you visited?

  12. @Ed – To characterize this meeting and trip as “absolutely reprehensible” is such a cheap shot. Me and plenty other Americans, including Lucky, have made significant sacrifices during the pandemic both personally and professionally for the greater good of our fellow man. I’ve taken a three international business trips during this time and I make no apologies to you or anyone else. I get tested before every trip (not inexpensive nor fun) and have to quarantine after the trip. Every precaution is being taken. Air travel by responsible passengers is safe. I’m sure Lucky’s meeting and walk through an empty building did not qualify as a super spreader event. To directly or indirectly blame air travel on the high pandemic death count is at best ignorant and at worst hateful. Stay healthy.

  13. @Mike P

    couldnt agree with you more, as a former consultant i have been to hundreds of new “modern” open offices like this and yes they are cool to visit but i prefer my older brick and closed door box office over the open modern concept. It is funny too than companies over the past decade have spent billions renovating older offices to these concepts and now are going to be spending millions again making closed spaces.

  14. This office is new and modern but unfortunately poor timing. Not designed for the post-Covid workplace. Also, something I’m sure AA regrets spending on now that they are cash-poor. Hopefully the govt takes a lien on it to ensure they get repaid.

    Also I hope you aren’t taking advantage of your EU and US dual citizenship to travel unnecessarily. Germany has essentially banned tourism by shutting hotels, so if you aren’t doing essential travel, please don’t travel. We will all get back to normal sooner if more people stop acting like things are normal now.

  15. Regarding being too much of an introvert to work in a corporate office like this, I’m also an introvert and have worked in an office for 20 years now. I’m also a consultant so have worked in many, many different offices. I actually think that most corporate offices are fine for introverts. The largeness and the relative anonymity actually allow me to retreat somewhere and recharge pretty easily. If someone wants to talk and comes by where I’m sitting and I’m not there, they’ll come back later. Unless its really important then they’ll message me and I’ll come back find them. But now, working from home, that cue isn’t there so regardless of how important it is they message and we end up talking regardless of what else is going on around me in my new work environment. Plus when we do talk, face-to-face tends to be more efficient than over zoom/Teams/WebEx/whatever else so we get the discussion over quicker which means I can go back to not having to interact with someone.

    I get that everyone is different but as an introvert, I actually prefer the corporate office to working from home. I’m honestly somewhat amazed that I’ve made it this long as a consultant and an introvert.

  16. @The Original Donna the issue here is that during the course of the pandemic, Ben has publicly called out individuals for supposedly not doing the right thing (especially on the issue of wearing masks), but seems to be ok himself with taken several non essential leisure trips. It seems to be that those more on the left of the political spectrum seem to be ok with with flouting the rules, or not doing what is the right thing by others (as many Democrat politicians have been caught out recently doing), but are ok with publicly shaming those for doing exactly what they have done. I think it’s called hypocrisy!

  17. @Steve_CC @Mike P You can definitely take the open concept too far and this looks like it probably has (the CEO has a cubicle? really?), but I do prefer the offices that have multiple ‘modes’ to sit in. Maybe it was just that I was a consultant so wherever I was the office was going to change in 3 months-2 years anyway (other than that one client I ended up at for 6 years), but being able to leave my desk and gather with some people around a large monitor, or sit by myself in a comfortable chair and look out a window, or whatever has always been a plus to me. Those have been my physically favorite places to work (even physically nice places to work suck if the clients suck, but that’s not the office’s fault…).

  18. American Airlines had negative stockholder equity at the end of 2019, even before covid. The building is an incredible investment but you truly have to ask if it will ever be used to the capacity that was built or even if the entire complex will be yet another asset that American has to renegotiate just to keep the airline financially viable. HDQ complexes deliver zero revenue but can add enormous costs.

  19. Thanks for sharing. Great to see a glimpse behind the world’s largest airline. If you ever considered working for an airline, maybe the cockpit would be more comfortable for an introvert?

  20. I work for a very high-end tech company. This office is as nice as I’m used to – outside of COVID times – if not more. And our margins are a lot better than an airline. Talk about Taj Mahal Syndrome…

  21. @Ed
    I flew 8 flights last week. Mostly first class and empty sectors. It felt great to fly again. It also felt safe . American took a lot of precautions. The only flights I didn’t feel safe were the regional jets out of DFW terminal E going to the rural areas. All the MAGAs not wearing masks or socially distancing in the gate areas. And descretely not wearing their masks inflight either.
    You should go for it Ed. Get out of your comfort zone you won’t regret it. Unless you’re elderly or high risk.

  22. I worked (and traveled) for a very, very large global consulting company for decades and saw our offices all over the world being remodeled or new buildings being built with the company name on them with the latest “business sexy” designs. These types of surroundings are an investment in talent – when people are happy in their work environment, they tend to stay longer, and the company can also attract better talent. This investment *usually* speaks to younger workers who are more difficult to retain. Granted, that company’s profit was in the billions so there wasn’t a negative image issue, but lowering turnover and bringing on better talent is definitely a major financial factor often used in the justification of these investments.

    That said, the “open” concept was quickly dismissed after implementation because everybody hated it, so it had the opposite effect.

  23. Thanks for posting this article. I enjoyed it a lot. Almost makes me want to unretire and go back to work.

  24. Thanks for the unexpected view inside. Really nice property and having riden the corporate bus for 25 years now, it is inspiring for those that will go there.

    As to not traveling, or not being normal due to covid conditions. Let’s not forget all those who didn’t make it due to Heart Disease: straight off the CDC page just now.
    Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
    1 person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease, about 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—

    Wear your mask – wash your hands…its just not hard. Stay Healthy…

  25. If you get a chance, check out JetBlues down in Orlando. While not this nice, it’s really only because its older. Its basically where the concept came from. They have all of this down there too. Its a cool facility.

  26. Why is it that the hotel is being placed on pause due to “reducing capital expenditures”, but American has the money to convert aircraft to the ridiculous “Oasis” configuration?

  27. Compared to American’s prior headquarters, this is a huge difference (I’m hoping to check it out in person in the next month or so). The old design was straight out of the 1970s – a concrete block with cubicles off of pretty narrow hallways.

    Delta spent a good bit of money over the last years of the 2010s refurbing their headquarters – they moved from having high-walled cubes (normally about a 5×6 size) to a low-wall design where desks were maybe 4×4, as well as splashing a lot of Euro-white paint all over the place. While it was a huge step up from the bleak area before, it didn’t change the fact that unless you were a director or above, good luck seeing outside at all; it was very easy to go through a day and the only time you saw the sun was at lunchtime. Still, tearing down a bunch of walls and putting a new splash of paint on it sure made a big difference (I just appreciate having a window and natural light).

    I’m guessing United has a fairly modern complex given their move into the Sears Tower only seven years ago (and when they re-upped their lease last year, they got some new renovations included in that). JetBlue’s office in Long Island City is also less than ten years old, so I’m guessing that’s in good shape.

  28. @Jeff, you should have seen the old STIN building ( bulldozed for this building ) that was the original DFW HDQ. They neglected to put in air con and ended up running conduits and plumbing randomly thru the building.

  29. I worked for this wonderful company for 20 years. Ten in SFO and ten at the corporate office in DFW. I worked my butt off in each job, learned a lot, travelled much, had opportunities, grew exponentially. I am eternally grateful to AA for giving me the life I had. AA is not the company it once was…but, the world isn’t the same either. I worked in that “concrete block” HDQ building complex for 10 years. Seeing this new complex is glorious. I’m so proud of AA for looking ahead. No one could have predicted the awesome and life-altering effectsof this pandemic. I pray the company survives.

  30. Beautiful HQ now we know why mileage redemption’s went from 80k to 500k one way in biz to Australia besides lets copy Delta .Sad that no one can make a single decision in the building to make customers loyal again like before Parker took over.If only they could get how happy and passionate we were about flying American.It took Covid for any minor positive changes and its still not enough sadly to reset what was once Americas greatest FF program and desirable airline

  31. I’ve been to airline HQs for DL, AS, and B6. I would love to visit AA, it blows the rest of them out of the park!

  32. In September of 2010 I was part of the FlyerTalk ATL DO at Delta. We spent three days on the Delta campus and it was amazing .

  33. Cool campus, but if this is how Parker prioritizes $350M of investment capital (while at the same time, removing IFE from aircraft), then AMR might just be first in line for bankruptcy in ’21. Maybe that’s his strategy. Granted, I don’t know what their previous HQ looked like and whether it could have been refreshed versus spending this much on brand-new facilities, but this just seems over-the-top. I hope I’m wrong, for the employees’ sake.

  34. Yes, very Cool Campus, however, there absolutely NO signs or Logo’s of the growth of American Airlines, and the hundreds, if not thousands of employees, from any departments that dedicated their lives and career’s to American Airlines, the future is looking forward, but let’s not forget the foundation it was built on, the employees and love of the corporation! I am one with 45 years plus, and darn proud of it!…….JFK/HDQ (former one), DFW/MIA!

  35. Can the outside of the building be visited by tourists?

    I visited United’s once but saw nothing except the lobby. The person I needed to meet went down to the lobby for the package I was bringing for him.

  36. I worked for American in reservations for 4 years and at D/FW for 24 more. For one week, I did a temp stint in Passenger Pricing. Everyone walked head down, worked hard to give a reason why their job existed, and were terrified of losing it. Everyone thought they knew more than anyone physically working at the airport, and thus, the airline was run that way. Sad. From the photos, I can go back to those times, and see that in today’s billion-dollar cubicle, not much will or ever change. Granted, working an airport gate in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm with 93,000 people all yelling at the same time wasn’t day at Six Flags. But it was a real airline job.

  37. I really enjoyed this walk-through, @Ben. If you’re ever in Kansas City, you’ll have to tour TWA’s original downtown HQ which is now a large ad agency. They restored the exterior of the building to its glory days and then located and refurbished the iconic TWA rocket and placed it back on the rooftop. The interior, though nice, is of course a step beyond the TWA days.

    Most the of the original TWA miscellany collection is now at the World Trade Center offices of the TWA Hotel. Prior to that, it resided in KC as well.

  38. In stark contrast, you should take a tour of the onboard crew member’s office/crew rooms. It’s like stepping into a third world country. You’ll understand the culture a lot more at American after you do.

  39. My goodness, so many sad haters. As a former US Airways employe, thank you for the article and photos! Very much appreciated. I hope all of you are able to find some joy in this Christmas season. Merry Christmas.

  40. @Mark R – I was part of that DO. I ended up getting a job at Delta 18 months later. What we saw on that DO was hardly the Delta campus – I remember walking into my job in a certain beloved department here on OMAAT to a place with six foot high cubes and no natural light. Coming from working at another airline for the prior year (where, the furniture wasn’t great, but we had floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the entire building) was a big shock.

  41. @Lucky If you’re interested in the back end infrastructure that keeps an airline running, you should check out United’s data center sometime! Really remarkable facility and the guys that work there are top notch (especially compared to other data center ops across the country). I’ve been lucky enough to visit a couple times and it always impresses me.

  42. I’ll bet you any money that Doug Parker has an actual office somewhere in the complex and the cubicle is mainly for show.

    The recent trend has been back toward less “open” offices and more privacy, so AA is behind here. Good looking common areas, though, except for the uncomfortable-looking seating.

    And Winston is the best co-worker you could ever ask for!

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