American Airlines 737's


I know for a while American Airlines 737-800’s haven’t been flying into O’Hare. I was wondering why did they do that. They were such nice planes to take across the country to KSAN or KLAS. Their Super 80’s are so cramped for a 4 hour flight. Plus they have no entertainment.


While I cannot provide the definitive answer I will suggest that mainly it has to do with maintenance issues. It is very expensive to keep spare parts in various locations therefore consolidating maintenance for certain aircraft types at certain domiciles makes the process easier. Thus, 737 maintenance is performed in Miami and MD80s are serviced at O’Hare.

As a result, aircraft are assigned routes that have them at the proper maintenance base for periodic checks.

It also becomes an issue of aircraft sizing for specific routes in combination with the above.

Roger Curtiss

  1. I find it interesting that you find the MD-80’s cramped. In the MD-80 only 20 percent of the seats are the dreaded middle seats, versus 33% on the 737. Also, the MD-80 seats are one inch wider, and there is proportionately more overhead bin space! The MD-80 is by far quieter to ride in, the quietest seats being around row 18. Forward of that you get air noise, and aft of that you get more engine noise. The MD-80 is about the best airplane to ride on that I know of - yet it has this reputation of being cramped. I don’t get it. The 737 and 757 are cramped. I try to avoid those.


Yes, when I flew to KSAN i was in the back, about four rows away from the engines. About the seats, I didn’t realize the seat difference was one inch! Thats’s something i don’t pay attention to. I flew the 737 from ORD to SAN pre-Sept 11 and that plane was brand new and also American was offering more room in couch. I was not considering the circumstances of todays air travel. Also the flights to SAN usually are full and the MD-80 felt cramped.

Which has the longer range, MD-80 or the 737-800?


The 737-800 has longer range - it can fly non-stop from the east to the west coast. An MD-80 can fly Chicago to the west coast, but that is all. Even though American no longer has “more room throughout coach” it’s coach seat pitch is the same as most everyone else"s. I am 6 feet 3 inches, and I can sit in an MD-80 seat without having my knees against the seat ahead of me.


An MD-80 can fly Chicago to the west coast, but that is all

Depends on the model. Here’s the ranges from the Boeing website:

MD-81: 1,565 nm
MD-82: 2,052 nm
MD-83: 2,504 nm
MD-87: 2,374 nm

The MD-83 could easily do JFK to the west coast with no problems.
In the one corner we have SEA at 2,104 nm from JFK while in the other corner we have SAN at 2,125 nm. Of course, this does depend on the winds when flying westbound.


Have you seen the winds aloft lately? :slight_smile: A lot of jetBlue’s A320s can’t even make it.


A few years ago American made an innovative operational change where they focused fleet types at certain airports. While there is a maintenance benefit, the primary reason is efficient crew management.


I’ve been on a few 737-800 AAL flights KORD-KSAN. I was wondering if anyone knew why the landings seem a little rougher on the 737-800 aircraft. I realize that the descent into KSAN is a little steep, but landings are usually OK on the MD-80, A320, and 757-200.

Also on the topic of aircraft usage on routes out of KORD, does anyone know why AAL uses 757-200s between KORD-KSNA when most flights between KORD-KSAN and KORD-KLAX use the MD-80s? I would guess that if AAL wanted to maximize the use of MD-80s out of O’Hare, they would use them on the KORD-KSNA route, too. Just curious …


Most if it may be either perception or luck, but one thing about the DC-9 series aircraft is that the low, clean wing ground effect and long-travel mushy main struts make it easy to grease the landings.
Ive also read that AA assigns their ex-Navy pilots to the 738s (:


AA uses 757s on the SNA-ORD route because it is capable of getting off of the short (5,700 feet) runway at Orange Country with a full load going to ORD. An MD-80 cannot do that, for two reasons. First, it just does not have enough power to get off of a short runway and go a long distance. Second, for noise abatement reasons at SNA, an MD-80 can only take off at a reduced weight. Above that weight (138,000 pounds, as I recall) it makes too much noise to meet the noise restrictions. The 757 and the 737-800 can do the job, but AA no longer flies 737-800s into ORD, so that leaves the 757. By keeping the 737-800s out of ORD, the company does not have to train the mechanics, keep spare parts in stock, etc. It is a money saving measure.


Thanks for the info. I wouldn’t have guessed that a 757 can use a shorter runway than an MD-80, but your explanation makes sense.

#13 … 53sec3.pdf … 80sec3.pdf

Go to those links and take a look at the runway length vs takeoff weight charts. AFAIK, the 757 has a pretty high thrust to weight ratio for a commerial airliner which probably help explain why it can use less runway than the MD80.