American Airlines Spends Millions Refurbishing Planes In Tulsa

Thursday, September 23rd 2010, 6:20 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- Dozens of Boeing 737s are being brought to Tulsa for an extreme makeover. American Airlines is investing millions to refurbish some of the older members of its fleet.

It's a massive project.

"Stripping down the bare bones, then building back up to something people are used to seeing, or even better," said Jim Griffin, engineering specialist.

Over the next 15 months, 76 planes will be refurbished in Tulsa, four at a time. More than 500 people are working around the clock on them. It takes roughly 18 days to finish one plane.

"You know these guys are putting the hours in," said Technical Crew Chief Sattar Hussein. "We are really dedicated to this project and we want to get it done as fast as possible."

As far as the changes, the most noticeable will be the overhead bins. They will extend further out, and American says they will be able to hold five to six bags instead of two to three.

The crews are getting rid of storage galleys, and moving new lavatories further back. They will have new faucets and smoke detectors. 

That means more room for more seats. Capacity will increase from 148 to 160, but American claims passengers won't lose any leg room.

Chairs will still recline, but instead of going backwards, they will slide forward. Passengers should feel like they have more leg room without affecting the passengers seated behind them. 

The airline is also adding wi-fi access and new monitors. So far, 12 planes have been refurbished and returned to the skies...meaning there are only 64 more to go.

In light of its stock plummeting this week, the airline says these changes are a way for it to remain competitive and to show that the company is listening to its customers.