Official: American MD-80 Retirement Date

Filed Under: American

It’s amazing how American Airlines has transformed their fleet over the years, both for better and worse. When I started flying American the MD-80s were the backbone of their domestic fleet, and the 737s were mostly still new.

Back in the day American Airlines had over 280 MD-80s in their fleet. While these weren’t the greatest planes in the world, in a way I enjoyed flying them — they offered a great ratio of first class to economy seats (meaning upgrades on these planes were fairly easy), I liked that there were only five seats per row in economy, and first class was always quiet due to the engines being in the back.

American Airlines had pushed back their MD-80 retirement for a while. That’s because when oil prices dropped there wasn’t as much pressure to get rid of these planes, since they are gas guzzlers.

This year American Airlines is getting rid of their last remaining MD-80s, and the airline has now officially announced retirement plans. On September 4, 2019, American Airlines will retire their last 26 MD-80 aircraft.

So while American has published the schedule for nearly two dozen of the last revenue flights for these planes, the absolute last revenue MD-80 flight will be from Dallas to Chicago on September 4 — fittingly on flight AA80.

The flight is scheduled to depart at 9AM and to arrive at 11:35AM, pending any maintenance issues. 😉 The flight is sold out in both economy and first class, which is because many people had noticed this anomaly in the schedule, and proactively made bookings.

It’s funny how things change over time. In 2015 I wrote a post entitled “Dear American: Retire Your MD-80s!” The gist of the post was that they were constantly having mechanicals with those planes, and also that American’s newer planes were much nicer.

Oh how times have changed

It is interesting that American isn’t further delaying retirement of the MD-80s, given that the 737 MAX is grounded. I guess they’ll have some slack in the schedule after the busy summer travel season, but even so…

Anyone plan to be on one of the last MD-80 flights? Are you happy or sad to see these planes retired, given the current state of American Airlines?

(Featured image courtesy of DearEdward)

Comments
  1. Isn’t that the day the MAX 8s are supposed to return to service? Does that mean these planes’ retirement will be pushed back if the MAX return hits any snags?

  2. I won’t miss the Mad Dogs yet because there is a “almost like a MD” still flying, the 717.

    The Concorde is a different matter to which we can only fly aboard a CRJ700 or E175 and pretend it’s a Concorde because of the 2+2 seating

  3. Honestly? Will miss them. Flew endless times with the Alitalia Super 80 in the ‘90s. Meridiana was flying them till a short while back. Then I took a short shuttle DFW – IAH in 2018. Had quite a few internal trip in Saudi Arabia with the MD 90 which is basically the same concept with a little more advanced instrumentation. When rolling upfront couldn’t hear a thing. And when pulling up felt like a rocket, inclination was I guess the only one going with the nose so up towards the sky. Will definitely miss it. I can also understand the costs and maintenance involved to keep these flying.

  4. Been flying on them with American since I was off to college in the 80’s. A lot of years and miles later I am a bit sad to see them go. Gonna try and book one last flight on it to put that wonderful bird to rest in my mind.

    Also, was nice meeting you briefly last night at the meet and greet, Ben.

  5. @StevenK
    Fly Delta, bunch of Mad Dogs out there.

    Still think the F on these birds (AA, DL) are among the best domestic. A real Oasis, lol.

    The reason I think AA might not push out even with the 737MAX fiasco is because they are due for safety checks. Definitely not worth spending more to keep them flying.

    What I find it interesting in addition to the last flight is
    AA 1010 to STL exTWA hub
    AA 267 TUL AA maintenance base

    This could be their final resting place or just a roadshow tribute to employees?????

  6. Most of the last flights are to DFW (presumably closest to the graveyard?) but some are ending up elsewhere, I wonder why.

  7. Gee AA, it took you longer to retire your MD 80s than even Allegiant. What, did you finally run out of duct tape?

    However, I will say that the 2+3 seating, with only half as many middle seats, is fantastic.

    As mentioned above, the 717 will be around for years. It is very different for the pilots, but for the pax it’s almost identical to the MD 80.

  8. There are still many MD80 flights from DFW to RDU on a daily basis..in case anyone is interested. In fact it is difficult to avoid them except for early morning and late night flights…

  9. Loved sitting in the front of a MD-80! A nearly silent liftoff, followed by the (very) gradual increase of wind noise as the aircraft increases speed in the climb. It was an unforgettable experience. The CRJ-700 (a vastly inferior experience) doesn’t have the same characteristic because it’s not nearly as long as the MD-80.

  10. I started on these when I was a road warrior pup back in the mid ‘80s. My colleagues and I referred to it as the “bowling alley,” before it became the “mad dog.” I always wondered how it flew with those stubby little wings. Back then, it had optimal seating in economy – plenty of legroom and very padded, comfy seats. Even though I haven’t flown one in years, I’ll miss seeing them at ORD and DFW.

  11. MD-80, -90, -95, B-717, etc.?

    They’re all DC-9’s to me, the last good Douglas design.

  12. AA has announced MD80 retirement before. Without another aircraft to fly the routs, they will still fly them beyond that date. Same with 757, still goin’

  13. I’m gonna be in the US for 2 weeks in August and I’ve gone out of my way to fly on one between DFW-STL. I’m so excited! We don’t have any JT8D powered planes left in Europe 🙁 I specifically didn’t use any of my 500 mile upgrades (I’m AA Platinum) so that I can sit right down the back, right in front of the noisy engines free upgrade to first class, NO THANKS!!! #AVGeekLife

  14. As a flight attendant for AA- I spent a big chunk of my 31 years on the Super 80. To me- she was a hard working lady. Even though I mostly fly the 777 and 787 now, I’d work one last flight if I could. I’m going to miss her.

  15. Oh great, NOW everyone is dripping with sentiment. I always liked the MD-80 because I saw the great American trash wave coming long ago. Nevertheless I had a fair chance of sitting in a window or aisle in a two-seat row.
    For me, it is merely sad to think of how much, and for how long, the passenger experience has been worsening.
    A flight — any flight — was something I once loved. Now I can barely grit my teeth enough to get into the stuffed paper towel roll.

  16. AA serviced ICT everyday with these old birds. Last I flew on one was last summer. It was loud, a little hot, and you could tell it was old…but you couldn’t beat the size of the seat or the amount of leg room. Will miss seeing the gleaming polished aluminum coming down on 19R.

  17. When I started flying American the MD-80s were the backbone of their domestic fleet
    ———————————————————-

    When I started flying they were still called DC-9s.

  18. @KC – So right – that an amazing take off! I once sat in Row 1 and it seemed kind of scary at the time and after that I was content to sit much further to the back.

  19. I flew all over the US on American MD-80s for over 20 years of business travel in the late 1980s, the 1990s, and the early 2000s. It was never the most exciting airframe, but it was always a dependable workhorse.

  20. I had hundreds and hundreds of flights on the MDs and S80s, almost all in coach. I always liked the 2-3 seating config. If you sat on the port side there was no middle seat.

  21. Amazing what time does to perspective. For a time, road warriors did not have a love affair with the MD 80. We wanted to be on a 757 or 767 in that era. Now she will be missed. When the pilots rotated and the nose pitched up, you were out of there. As many have noted, take off even more thrilling in First as engine noise was so quiet.

  22. I’m going to miss the old war horses. In the 90’s and early aughts, I flew on Alaska metal. In the late aughts and teens it was on Delta, both the MD-80 and 90. Hell, as recently as 2011 I flew on a couple of Delta’s DC-9’s!

  23. I flew it as a copilot and a Captain. It is an iron horse! Rammed by a Continental plane in EWR , they straightened it and it flew on. Another one flew through the trees landing at BDL and earned the moniker “wood chipper”. On a cold day with a light load it would exceed 6000 fpm climb. Is it my favorite? Absolutely not! Pilots typically like a jet more technologically advanced..the S80 was not.

  24. I checked my upcoming reservations and I’ve got the last of many, many AA MD 80 flights in late August, RDU-DFW. Probably will also be the last in a silver AA plane also since they never bothered to repaint most of them.

  25. At least Delta still has many of them left…I love flying the MD-80, great steep climb and love watching it depart. There is nothing like the ROAR and the reverberation of those classic airliners!.. They don’t make em like that anymore!

  26. @Jake they certainly don’t. The smell of jet fuel coming from the the air nozzles when the engines start up.

  27. As a retired pilot staff person for AA and have worked for those who have flown the Mad Dog!….What an amazing job the jet has done…..Thank You!….Super 80! ……
    The Use Of Speed Tape is No More Needed!

  28. I’ve successfully avoided them for the last 20 years. Should be able to manage that for a few more months.

  29. I wish Delta would follow suit and ditch them. Having experienced an engine failure at 7K after takeoff a few months ago, no thanks. Don’t need that again. Maybe great when new, but certainly not now.

  30. One of the last, true, fly-by-wire (cable) aircraft out there. No MCAS, no pilot assistance systems, just a nice long cable that gave the pilots a direct connection to the control surfaces. Sure, modern aircraft try to give some feedback to the pilots, but it’s not like the real thing.

    As others have noted, being in the pointy end is void of engine noise and heavenly. Being in the back between the engines is a different matter.

    The fact that they’re still flying daily today is a testament to those who built them, and those who maintain them.

    Much like the 747, I will miss not having them around in active service. The replacements for them just aren’t as interesting or comfortable.

  31. The one I REALLY miss is the 727. Hard to find them anywhere in the world nowadays… except Iran apparently which becomes to airliners what Cuba is for old cars.
    Any more Caravelles anywhere?

  32. Booked! 3B with all ma friends around me. Can’t wait. They won’t delay retirement due to FAA required software updates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *