Picture of Gerard Arpey
National Treasures

In two recent columns, I highlighted American’s first-ever service to China and India. To be sure, Chicago–Shanghai and Chicago–Delhi are fantastic additions to our global network. But this month, I am going to shift gears. Instead of highlighting a new destination, I am going to shine a light on a country we have been serving for more than 80 years. I think sometimes we forget that the country in question, which celebrated its 230th birthday on July 4, has a little bit of everything — beaches, mountains, deserts, glaciers, rivers, lakes, rain forests, volcanoes — you name it. I’m talking, of course, about the United States of America. All of our country’s natural wonders and more can be found within the incredible National Park System.

The park system has been described as the best idea the country has ever had, and it’s hard to disagree. I am sure most American Way readers are familiar with the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the other big-name parks that, to many, symbolize America’s incredible natural beauty. But did you know there are nearly 400 national parks in the United States?

To call the parks diverse would be a serious understatement. On a national parks vacation, you might find yourself scaling an active volcano at Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii or spelunking the underground world of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. If cool and crisp is your style, you might visit the glacier-capped mountains of Washington’s Olympic National Park. On the other hand, if a steamy escape is your idea of fun, check out Florida’s subtropical Everglades National Park.

At American Airlines, we want to do our part to preserve the best of America’s natural heritage. As a Proud Partner of the national parks, we have leveraged the popularity of our AAdvantage Program — and the generosity of our customers — to raise much-needed money for the parks. Since 2000, AAdvantage members have donated more than $4 million to the effort, and those members have, in turn, been rewarded­ with millions of bonus miles. AAdvantage members who give $100 or more to American’s Proud Partner campaign earn 10 bonus miles for every dollar donated. Members contributing $1,000 or more receive a National Parks Pass good for an entire year — a $50 value. To learn more about this program and how you can participate, please visit www.aa.com or www.nationalparks.org.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “There is nothing so American as our national parks.... The fundamental idea behind the parks ... is that the country belongs to the people.” Of course, one of the best ways to learn about Roosevelt, as well as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, is to visit the monuments and memorials honoring them in Washington, D.C. Those must-sees are part of the National Park System, as is our most recognizable symbol of freedom and democracy, the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

At American Airlines, our mission — and our passion — is to connect you to the world. But to me, our national parks are a great reminder that, no matter where we live or how much we travel, we should always appreciate the wonders that surround us. I hope you’ll have a chance to visit one of our national parks very soon. In the meantime, wherever you are going today, thanks for flying with us.

Happy birthday, America.

Signature of Gerard Arpey
Chairman & CEO
American Airlines