MIAMI — Thirty years ago, American Airlines (AA) inaugurated its first service from the United States to Japan, with a flight between Dallas / Ft. Worth and Tokyo Narita.
AA acquired two former TWA (N601AA and N602AA) to begin the service, and as a stop-gap measure until the 1991 arrival of the McDonnell Douglas MD-11s. These 747SPs were configured to feature a premium configuration, with 29 First class seats, 78 Business class seats, and 78 Economy class seats, with two stand-up bars in the Business class cabin.
These were interesting times for sure at American Airlines. Just five years before the first flight to Asia, AA took over Braniff’s New York – London Gatwick route. The first flight took place on May 19, 1982.
Eventually, these Boeing 747SPs were redeployed to New York to serve routes to London and Brussels, as AA began to take delivery of the MD-11s in 1991.
The MD-11s were specifically purchased by American Airlines to operate non-stop from Dallas / Ft. Worth to Hong Kong. However, AA’s MD-11s could never fly the route even after aerodynamic and engine upgrades (commonly known as Performance Improvement Packages or PiPs) in an attempt to meet the promised specifications.
Three decades strong
Since the first flight to Asia, American Airlines has grown from operating a single daily flight to five flights a day, with services from Dallas / Ft. Worth, Los Angeles and Chicago-O’Hare to Narita, and from Los Angeles to Tokyo Haneda, all on Boeing 777 or 787 jetliners.
To date, American Airlines operates flights to Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. Also, thanks to the joint business agreement inked with Japan Airlines (JAL), AA’s passengers have access to Southeast Asia destinations like Bangkok, Manila, and Saigon.
Also, for those traveling from Japan, American provides direct flights to the U.S. and connections to about 350 cities in over 50 countries.