American Airlines ‘Roach Coach’ Boeing 777 Flies Again

On October 29 American Airlines sent an eight year old Boeing 777-300ER to their Tulsa maintenance facility for insect abatement.

A couple of weeks later the plane was out and back in service – but it flew a single Miami to Dallas – Fort Worth segment before returning to Tulsa on November 14.

Aircraft N724AN was still on the ground in Tulsa when I wrote about it in early December, scheduled out of service through December 20th.

I reached out to American Airlines on November 18th about the aircraft, and while they promised to get back to me with details they’ve been tight-lipped about the condition of the plane. From a passenger-facing standpoint, when there aren’t insect infestations, this is the best aircraft in the fleet.

American wouldn’t share word on just what insects invaded the aircraft, or what damage they might have done while there that’s caused so much time in maintenance. And they wouldn’t speak to why they thought the plane was airworthy in mid-November, but had to return for more insect mitigation work after only a single segment. Did it involve passenger experience issues, mechanical issues, or both?

A tipster shared,

I work for AA, in Tulsa. The plane is here because of a bad insect infestation; there aren’t any mechanical issues.

The plane came here initially because of the infestation, we bombed it 9 times, and then sent it out again. It came back shortly thereafter, because the 9 bombings weren’t enough.

Now, the plane is back on maintenance, and getting completely torn apart so that we can finally put an end to this infestation. The seats, carpets, lavs, galleys, floorboards- everything is coming out, so that we can get rid of this problem, and serve our customers better.

Well now the plane is finally back in service. It was ferried from Tulsa to Dallas on New Year’s Day. And on Monday it flew Dallas to London. It will then fly to New York, and is scheduled to then fly to Sao Paulo and on to Miami. Hopefully now after several months it is pest free.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. @ Gary. Yes, I remember the British Airways “Bed Bug” airline episode(s). As I recall it was their now retired B747 fleet that suffered most. One flight from Accra (Ghana) to London Heathrow was refused by the crew as the ‘plane was, well, alive. That was not the only episode but it’s the one I remember.
    That was of personal interest to me as the Accra 747 typically went on to PHX from LHR and that was one of the flights I would use. I used Flightradar24 to track down the numbers of the ‘planes concerned so I could avoid them if possible.
    It was one of the issues that drove me away from BA, in addition to the airline’s sterling attempts to become the World’s worst airline. Were it not for PIA, they might have succeeded. Oh, that and their staff were often a bunch of stuck-up and unhelpful snotbags. Especially at LHR.
    My guess is if AA is having an insect issue it’s likely bedbugs more so than cockroaches, the former being a bunch of stubborn little buggers that are hard to get rid of.
    I agree with you that these B777s are the pinnacle of AA’s fleet BTW, but…. how soon we forget. I am now thinking of trying BA again due to the truly awful inflight standard that AA’s Flagship First has become.
    And… one has to say, when the AA staff at the LHR First Class check in *ask* you to complain about their lounge still being closed, you know the airline has a morale problem (duh). In addition to the insects.

  2. Is roach coach any cheaper? roaches are probably tastier than those nasty dark protein sandwiches in first that can’t be called some known heard of meat

  3. Most planes from every single airline at some point have a problem with insect and rodent infestations. Airlines can fly planes with known and reported insect problems until the plane can get to a scheduled disinsection station.

    If AA has a long term plane out of service, its more than a simple insect infestation. Either the insects or rodents chewed through wiring or the plane is undergoing maintenance for something else.

    Insect infestations are not uncommon. Whenever you fly on any airline, you should assume the plane has some sort of bug problem. Planes sit with their doors open between flights. Plenty of time for bugs and rodents to get in and find a home.

  4. Due to budget constraints from passengers infected with COVID-19 disease, does American Airlines fumigate the entire aircraft or, do they reserve spraying pesticide in only the first-class cabin?

  5. You are all speculating that there’s major damage- and you’re all wrong. I work for AA, in Tulsa. The plane is here because of a bad insect infestation; there aren’t any mechanical issues.

    The plane came here initially because of the infestation, we bombed it 9 times, and then sent it out again. It came back shortly thereafter, because the 9 bombings weren’t enough.

    Now, the plane is back on maintenance, and getting completely torn apart so that we can finally put an end to this infestation. The seats, carpets, lavs, galleys, floorboards- everything is coming out, so that we can get rid of this problem, and serve our customers better.

  6. @Joanie stop being so stupid. It really puts a damper on life for the rest of us, having to deal with people like you.

  7. The absolute peak of Gary blog commenters is: Insect damage on one single plane in the United fleet? I blame immigrants because I think they’re dirty.

    Imagine possessing a human brain and it keeps coming up with this shit…

  8. I was ticketed in Flagship First (2A) on flight AA 2289 LAX-MIA on October 28 on this aircraft.

    The announcement on the delay said it was due to an insect infestation. I was near the gate agent when she said roaches.

    The Captain was a nice guy and he wasn’t going to fly that plane he told me later

    Another plane took the roach plane’s place. And due to the 3 hour delay in getting the new plane, AA did cater for lunch not breakfast 🙂

    I spent the delay at the south end of TB near gate 158 plane spotting. I was in no particular hurry since I was doing a Dollars run to maintain my Platinum status under the $2K spend offer. 😉

    The only drawback was less time in MIA Flagship Lounge. I was able to return the champagne flute I borrowed on the outbound leg 😉
    I had also brought a Lufthansa beverage glass and an Etihad nut ramekin 🙂

    Fly in style and without bugs!

  9. I flew from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires on a 5th freedom flight on Qatar Airlines. When we landed, the FA announced they were going to fog the plane. They literally walked up and down the aisles spraying god knows what… The whole cabin was in a fog. I think I may prefer a few roaches rather than inhaling whatever the heck they sprayed in there.

  10. @Joanie YOU are the immigrant in North America. EVERYONE IS. Unless you are in Mesopotamia then you are an immigrant . Do not call yourself the first one anywhere just because you think you invaded a land mass first.

    Unless you are using a bidet at home then y0our hygienic standards are sub par

  11. It is my understanding from a top secret source that the concern is over an infiltration of X666 type roaches that have a unique metabolism that converts metal to ADP (adenosine pyrophosphate) for mitochondrial energy production.

    Moth sized holes were found in the empennage of the aircraft caused by the newly discovered insect.

    It appears to be anaeorobic and similar to bacteria found on the ISS on April 1st of this year.

  12. Okay my turn; I was a truck driver for yes Swift when I first started it out and you talk about bad cockroaches in in Gary Indiana man that place is a dump but I got over it and stayed out of Gary and Gary Indiana from then on as far as the airplanes are concerned I do not know and I don’t want no part of Gary
    Indiana or their planes;
    You all be good God bless merry Xmas to all the banks I mean sherry,, keth,, and Shane…..

  13. I totally 100% agree with K. Wait and see what will happen to those planes after flying for couple months to India. Third world country passengers, wait and see the infestation. Good luck with that.

  14. I remember stories decades ago about airlines who, after several “traditional” attempts to de-roach or de-mouse a plane failed, would have a pilot crew take the plane up to altitude with oxygen turned off (and/or depressurized?) in the cabin to kill the critters. Obviously the plane would have had reliable oxygen supplies fed to the pilots for the duration. Old wives tales?

  15. Problem reported. AA reacted and thought it was fixed then immediately took it out of service until the issue was resolved. What a complete waste of space to even report it, let alone try and make some sort of issue about it. Why not check all carrier’s maintenance records, many of which are none of your business, report similar events with a sensationalized headline and then track the tail numbers? A non-story and ridiculous posting.

  16. I presume roach-infested aircraft are retired, fumigated, and repurposed as a restaurant. I believe all passengers would love to enjoy an American Airlines First-class Flagship dining experience inside a Flagship® Lounge, inside of a retired and vermin-free aircraft. In addition, it would be exciting to enjoy delicious menus and drinks from local chefs with the new and improved American Airlines Flagship dining product.

    https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/airplanes-turned-restaurants/index.html.

  17. Karen. . .I mean Joanie. . .I bet the same was said about your great great, grand parents when they came over on the boat. SHAME on you!

  18. So what’s the solution? Scrap the plane because there were a few bugs on it? Good for American for working so hard to fix it…

    Also – Gary, could you consider not approving racist comments about immigrants being dirty or flights to India coming back with bugs? Bigoted posts don’t add to the conversation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.