Just outside of Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport is a little hidden gem of a museum, the C.R. Smith Museum, home to everything American Airlines. If you’re any bit of an aviation enthusiast like me, it’s worth it to make a “pilgrimage” here.
The museum itself sits on AA’s training campus, and unfortunately is not accessible via public transportation. Your only options to get here are by car, taxi or Uber, though it’s only about a 10 minute drive from the terminals, so if you have an extended layover, or are early for your flight, you can certainly have time to visit.
As you walk inside, you’re greeted by an awesome American West plan, with US Airways logo. All of the content in the museum is interestingly updated to reflect the merger details, so you’ll find a fair amount of material on US Airways and their pre-merger carriers, too.
Admission is $7 for adults, and is discounted for children and museum members. I did inquire about an Executive Platinum discount, and was denied, by the way. 😉
There’s a theater directly inside, which features a short 15 minute film on the history of aviation, and how American helped “fuel the fire.”
The coolest – and I mean the coolest – feature of the whole museum (well, maybe not…) is the auditorium. Step inside, and you’ll see that all the seats are retired First Class seats. You don’t have to pay thousands for a ticket to sit in First anymore – just come down to Dallas to the AA museum!
After you exit the theater, you start on a tour of the exhibits, which follows a circular walkway around a small inside seating area where you can watch several videos highlighting the operations of AA, such as how they de-ice aircraft and price tickets.
The exhibits all follow in chronological order, and end at the present day.
You can pilot an aircraft in a small simulator in the AA colors!
Or, you can check out the past uniforms and a beverage cart.
…and even a piano that was once on one of their Luxury Liners.
In a large glass pavilion, you can tour a DC-3, both inside and out.
As you near the modern-day exhibits, you’ll find a timeline of their recent achievements, including new routes, seating options, and meal improvements (or, in my opinion, lack thereof).
There was one sign that I found particularly funny as it highlighted how American had to file for “Chapter 11 protection.” Nowhere does it actually come out and say bankruptcy. 🙂
As you come back to the entrance atrium, there’s a large gift shop with AA apparel, model plans, housewares and toys for kids.
You can buy an American Airlines flight attendant doll! #musthave
I dropped $150 on some neat shirts, a DVD and a how-to guide to SABRE, their ticketing and reservations system (not sure why I needed this, but it looked cool…). This is not a place to go if you aren’t ready to drop a few bucks…which you will if you’re the least bit interest in AA. 🙂
I really enjoyed this museum. If you’re even slightly interested about AA, it will take you about an hour to see the exhibits end to end. If you’re really an aviation geek, it will take a few hours, though as I said before, it’s certainly a museum you can see on a long layover. There’s a bit of positive propaganda towards the airline for obvious reasons, but it’s something you can expect considering it’s their own museum. It’s a must do item the next time you’re in Dallas!
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