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In 1934, American Airways Company was acquired by E.L. Cord, who renamed it "American Air Lines". Cord hired Texas businessman C.R. (Cyrus Rowlett) Smith to run the company. Smith worked with Donald Douglas to develop the DC-3, which American Airlines was the first carrier to fly, beginning in 1936. American's introduction of the DC-3 made it the first airline to be able to operate a route that could earn a profit solely by transporting passengers; other carriers still could not earn a profit without carrying US Mail. With the DC-3, American began calling its aircraft "Flagships" and establishing the Admirals Club for valued passengers. The DC-3s had a four-star "admiral's pennant" outside the cockpit window while the aircraft was parked, one of the most well-known images of the airline at the time.
American Airlines was the first to cooperate with Fiorello LaGuardia to build an airport in New York City, and partly as a result became owner of the world's first airline lounge at the new LaGuardia Airport (LGA), which became known as the Admirals Club. Membership was initially by invitation only, but a discrimination suit decades later changed the club into a paid club, creating the model for other airline lounges.

 

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