American is retiring their MD-80s, so by the end of 2019, there will be none flying in their fleet. Although this can change, I don’t expect it to. I had a chance to try them for a very short flight, between Houston and Dallas. These planes used to run this route almost exclusively when I moved to college at Rice University, but now there are only one or two daily flights on the MD80.
The Good: Well Padded Seat, comfortable headrest, and a large bathroom.
The Bad: No IFE of any sort. Slow Wifi
The Noteworthy: The seats feel old, but they have a nostalgic feel to them too.
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This flight was part of a larger mileage run I did from Houston, to Hong Kong, back to San Juan. The flight was cheaper than flying from Houston to LAX direct. Plus, it would give me a chance to visit a few lounges in DFW I had been looking to try.
Check in at IAH is usually quick, there aren’t that many hassles and agents are efficient. I have noticed that agents in the morning are friendlier than the ones working the last flights. Within 5 minutes I had my boarding pass. IAH’s Terminal A has two concourses. One of them has CLEAR and the other TSA Pre-Check. CLEAR is on the American side, and Pre-Check on the Delta side. This is weird, as DELTA offers CLEAR to their top elites, so I think they should shift the two, but that’s just me. Either way, both concourses are connected.
Cabin: Business Class
Route: Houston IAH to Dallas DFW
On Time: Yes
I arrived a bit late, so I could not review the recently opened IAH Admiral’s Club. I did visit it later on in the year, so a full review will come by soon. Boarding was a bit messy, as every first class passenger seemed to want to board at once. I had picked 3F, because it was the last window seat available, and the bulkhead on the MD80 isn’t too bad.
Seat and Service
As soon as I sat down, I realized how much more comfortable these seats are than the more modern business class seats. It was easily 25 years old, but it was well padded. There was a blanket on the seat and the controls were controlled by a small lever, instead of a button.
Given the duration of the flight, the FA came by and offered water or juice before takeoff, and asked us what we wanted to drink after takeoff. I ordered more water, and decided to relax for the rest of the flight.
I was able to take a few good photos as we took off and before we landed. I thought I would share some with you all. My favorite thing about being a #avgeek is taking photos in the air, of airports and of airplanes.
These old Mad Dog 80s are more comfortable than most modern 737s. The wifi speed is terrible, but you can use it to stream video to your device. The seats are a gem, and their degree of padding cannot be seen on domestic fleets anymore. I am not too sad to see these planes be retired, but I wouldn’t mind them being kept around for short hops like this. Overall, would recommend the MD80 for a sub-one hour flight.
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As a SW loyalist who matched to Alaska this year, I have flown a fair amount of American over the past 12 months. I’ve only had the chance to fly up on an A321 and an MD-80. To your point, the seats in First on the MD-80 are the most comfortable American seats I have ever encountered. So many of American’s seats — up front and in the back — are not padded well at all. Why have comfortable passengers when we can added an extra row or two? I used to fly Delta MDs all the time, but they… Read more »
Hey Elijah! Thanks for reading,
I agree, in order to get more seats on planes, pitch and padding has gone away. That’s really unfortunate and upsetting, because they would rather get a few more dollars than provide decent service. The MD80s, built in an era more focused on comfort, will be sorely missed if only for the seats. Delta has a more cramped seating arrangement and that makes them much less comfy than the AA MD80s.
The Millennial Traveler
Flew one of these from Memphis to Atlanta – I never felt more cramped in any flight ant that includes flying on Ryan Air!
Hi Tony! Thanks for reading!
I don’t think you flew on one of American’s MD80s, thought. Usually that flight is flown by Delta, which has a more modern cabin, with more slimline seats and less pitch. I flew one of those a few months back and they were awful, and first class was also dismal. I agree with you on that, for the price, Ryanair is better.
The Millennial Traveler
I do quite a bit of commuting between MCI-DFW and other Texas airports. I love the MD-80 (Mad-Dogs). I’ll miss them greatly. I love the 2-3 seating in the back and the first class is like sitting up front in your grandma’s old Buick. Sure it might drink gas, have an 8-track instead of Cassette (slow wifi). It might look old with a few old stickers and scratches on the outside but it will get us there and in comfort. Come to think of it is this the same reason old GM cars always have peeling paint. Maybe they have… Read more »
Hey Dan! Thanks for reading!
I agree, I will miss the 2-3 seating and the soft padded chairs. It may not be as luxurious and fancy as some of the new Airbus planes, but it is certainly more comfy.
The Millennial Traveler