3 Links I Love: The American MD-80 Edition

American, Links I Love, MD80

American may not have had a 747 to retire like Delta and United, but the airline put together one heck of a tribute to its MD-80s on their last day in revenue service. Though I was invited, I wasn’t able to make the trip, so I had to live vicariously through others. The #Super80Sendoff hashtag on Twitter was full of great coverage, but I’ve decided to devote this week’s links to some of the more interesting stories I saw.

This week’s featured link:

American Air Says Goodbye to MD-80 Jet After 36 YearsBloomberg
Much of the coverage was full of nostalgia, but Mary Schlangenstein took a more balanced look at the airplane. Of course the MD-80 had its issues, and there’s no reason to gloss over them.

Video of the Week: American put together a farewell video for the Mad Dog, and I participated. Looks like I wasn’t the only one with the idea to film my bit outside the MD-80s birthplace here in Long Beach.

Two for the road:

Images and a special video: A Nostalgic Goodbye to the American Airlines MD-80Andy’s Travel Blog
Remember how I said much of the coverage was focused on nostalgia? I didn’t say that’s a bad thing. Andy put together a heartfelt post with a tribute video about the airplane. He also posted some excellent photos, many of which were taken back in February when we were both up all night with American. This one is for the geeks.

American Airlines MD-80 Retirement Press KitAA Newsroom
I know it says it’s a press kit, but American put together one heck of a treasure trove. Sure there are press releases, but there is also video from the events. You’ll also see a bunch of historical photos and marketing materials. You can get lost on this page for an hour.

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17 comments on “3 Links I Love: The American MD-80 Edition

  1. no idea why anyone liked the MD8x series – they’re ancient, dirty, narrow, with super loud engines if you sit close to the rear (i had that “pleasure” once when i flew them to florida, and i’m pretty sure i experienced less hearing loss next to the DJ booth at Hakkasan than a 3 hour flight on one of these).

    maybe it’s a Trumpian trash thing cuz it seems that only worthless airlines based out of Trumpian states of Texas and Georgia and those FF who blindly follow them embrace this piece of junk.

  2. I’m not sure the political commentary was necessary nor has it anything to do with the MD80. While I agree it’s not an aircraft worthy of much celebration it was a workhorse for many airlines over the past 30+ years. The T-tail and fuselage mounted jets certainly made it unique in the bland world of modern jet aircraft. For that I’ll give it a nod farewell.

    When the airlines started charging for checked bags is when I really started to despise the mad-dogs and the meager bin space on the two wide seating side. That said, I’ve flown in plenty of them and they always got me there safely.

  3. have never been a fan of the MD-80, both from a passenger’s perspective, as well from an airline employee’s perspective. It was very loud and very uncomfortable to fly on. That being said, it is unique when compared to today’s modern, technology-laden, fly-by-wire commercial aircraft. I think many people realize that the retirement of the MD-80 puts to bed the last in a long line of aircraft that helped grow the commercial flying experience throughout the United States, and it represents the closing of a very special chapter in a very cherished book.

  4. Amazing how myopic some people are.
    We tend to forget, that once upon a time, the S80 was a state of the art modern aircraft. yes, its time has come and gone.

    Just like the A350’s and 787’s that you oooh and awe about today will be the tenants of Mojave and Mirana tomorrow. And then something else will have taken their place.

    Lighten up. The 80 had a fantastic run. Compare its track record to those bastions of success like the Convair 880 or the Mercure.

  5. I liked the MD80 because of the 3-2 configuration. It’s nice being in a window and only one seat from the aisle. I still prefer them to any Boeing product except the 767 because of their wider seats and comfortable configuration.

    But, with the C-Series (er A220) coming into service, it’s even better to have a plane in a 2-3 configuration and a lot less noise on the cabin with those geared turbofan engines.

  6. I am happy to see them retired since they contributed a lot of ground noise pollution. It has gotten a lot quieter around RDU these days now that Delta doesn’t send the MD88’s in very often. Reduced ground noise is one benefit of newer aircraft that I don’t see mentioned very often. Perhaps in the near future we might see more airports open to 24hr traffic.

  7. The MD80 was/is like the old family Chevy… nothing fancy but it was good, reliable,affordable basic transportation.

    All of the talk of how noisy and antiquated it was has to be measured within the context of what was available at the time.

    The MD80 was a 140 plus seat aircraft before the 737-800 or A320 were in service. McDonnell Douglas managed to keep the M80 as a two engine, two pilot aircraft which gave the M80 an advantage over the 727 which was largely grounded in the US post 9/11.

    737s and 727s of the same era were just as loud; the only reason why the 737 was able to be re-engined was because its wing mounted engines could be more easily upgraded to new generation technology – but the MAX crisis proves Boeing hit the limits of what could be done given the technology they were willing to put on the plane at the time.

    The greatest benefit of the DC9 family was/is 5 abreast seating. I will always prefer 5 abreast coach over the 737 or 320’s 6 abreast given the higher chances of not being in a middle seat.
    Thankfully the A220 has carried on the 5 abreast tradition and Bombadier also put the engines on the wing so the A220 will offer better comfort and noise levels than the 737 or 320 can or the DC9 family could.

    Delta will likely shut down large scale McDonnell Douglas flying when the 717s are eventually removed from service and with their move, the end of Long Beach’s contribution to commercial aviation will be completed.

  8. I remember my first ride in the MD80, a DFW-SJC flight in ’83. The pilot mentioned the recent delivery of the aircraft made sure to point out that the climb angle was steeper than people were probably used to. He seemed to take a lot of pride in flying the AC.

  9. The worst flight I ever experienced was in the back end of an MD-80. Fortunately, that was very infrequent. I did fly on them a number of times between Phoenix and Minneapolis/St. Paul. It was one of the more comfortable planes in the sky (as comfortable as any commercial airplane can be in the back end).

  10. I liked the MD80 series, they always looked sleek and fast. A 2+3 was always nice since less middle seats to deal with.

  11. Back when the MD 80 hit the market, plane spotting was a thing to behold. There were all kinds of jetliners and all kinds of airlines and an airport was a colorful mix of it all and a total delight. Today spotting is very boring. No variety. A handful of airlines. Boring to max liveries (well not all). Same old under the wing engine airplanes, boring boring boring. Air travel used to really be something to behold. Now it’s just another day at the races and everything is mono-cultured. Bye bye MD 80.

  12. Can only actually remember one flight on an AA Mad Dog (very last minute trip home SFO-LAX-LHR for $400 return, in 2004) – the fact that I can’t remember that much about it (apart from the cool noise at take off) suggests that it was, at least, far more comfortable than any flight I’ve ever taken on a 737.

    Growing up at home (UK), our local airport (BRS) was mainly holiday charter flights in the 70s and 80s – they had a start up airline fly out of there for a few years (Paramount); we often used to see their gleaming white MD-83s hurtle over the main A38 road (which they had to close when planes landed or took off). Was amazed to read Paramount also used to fly MD-83s from LGW to GOI in the winter – I’m guessing they must have refuelled in Bahrain or somewhere. Not sure I would have fancied 10 hours in a Mad Dog (unless I was the pilot). Anyway, sad that they’re going – as others have mentioned before, whilst there are some beautiful aircraft out there, there’s very little that looks ‘different’ and our nerdy interest in planes is that much the poorer for it.

  13. Apparently multiple DL employees are quoting their internal site in saying that Delta has extended the leases for the 717s to 2030 and will install seat-back IFE on the entire fleet. They will undoubtedly use the tablet based system that is now on the A220 and A330-900 and will mean that DL will have seatback IFE on all of their mainline aircraft once the MD80/90 fleets are retired which appears to be on track to happen within the next few years.

    DL will extend McDonnell Douglas’ presence in commercial aviation for another decade.

    This announcement also has significant implications for scope discussions occurring at all of the big 3 since DL will have at least 130 aircraft in the 110 seat or smaller category at mainline.

    Pilots retiring Airbus and Boeing aircraft might be brought home on aircraft of the DC9 family!

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