American Airlines

Where we've come from shows you where we're going.

At American Airlines Cargo, we carry on a proud tradition of innovation, pride and experience. In fact, we can trace our lineage back to an association of air transport companies that merged to become American Airways, which was the direct predecessor of American Airlines. The first cargo flown by our predecessor was a mail contract route from Chicago, Illinois, to St. Louis, Missouri.

It wasn't exactly global business, but it was an important first step in the history of air cargo transport. Adding to the historical value of that trip was the identity of the young pilot who flew it - the young aviator named Charles Lindbergh.


From the beginning, we were staffed by bold and visionary aviation pioneers who flew a staggering array of aircraft, ranging from World War I surplus planes, like the Ford Tri-Motor, to the larger, more technical marvels of the day, our new Boeing 777-300ER.

Innovative Spirit

Over the years, we have stayed on the leading edge of the air freight industry through a variety of innovations, such as:

  • The first scheduled air cargo service in the world
  • The first air cargo tariff, which established service based on density, volume, value and perishability
  • The first coast-to-coast all cargo flight, from New York to California
  • The first air freight loading conveyors, soon followed by portable motorized loading conveyors
  • The first corrugated containers for shipping ready-to-wear clothing
  • The first Unit Load Device (ULD), known as the Paul Bunyan Box
  • The first air hub and spoke system
  • The first air freight terminals
  • The first scissor-lift system and pet carrier container for air travel
  • The first coast-to-coast jet service
  • The first in-plane roller system
  • The first powered cargo loader - the Astroloader for the 707 Aircraft
  • The first "igloo" cargo container
  • The first refrigerated cargo container
  • The first US-based passenger carrier approved to carry the temp-controlled Envirotainer e2 unit 
  • The first super-sized cargo container for the 747 Aircraft

Today, we provide daily scheduled cargo lift to more than 330 cities in 60 countries around the world. Our customers include some of the largest shippers in the world, such as the United States Postal Service.

From those first forays into airmail to the heightened security of today and global scheduling requirements, one thing has remained the same: our spirit of innovation. A constant drive to find a better way still prevails. This commitment to excellence has earned us an unrivaled reputation within the air cargo industry as a leader, partner and tireless innovator. And we will continue that tradition as we fly into the future.

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