CNBC
updated 10/22/2006 6:59:16 PM ET 2006-10-22T22:59:16

As the only major legacy carrier to have avoided bankruptcy, one of the keys to the company's success has been critical changes in its workplace. Today, labor and management have gone from being at each other's throats -- to being at each other's mercy

That was one of the major highlights of CNBC's behind-the-scenes look at the world’s largest airline. The network spent a week looking at all facets of the airline's operations for a special report airing Wednesday night, 'Inside American Airlines: A Week in the Life.'

The journey began with a flight aboard AA Flight 1, the carrier's New York-to-Los Angeles route, one of the airline's most famous flights, but not always one of its most profitable.

During the week of shooting, the carrier flew 15,447 flights to 250 cities in 40 countries. The airline had more than 95,000 employees on the payroll, including 52,857 union members. American offered 25,000 different fares that week, including $12,230 for a first-class roundtrip ticket between Chicago and Delhi, India — its longest route and highest-priced ticket. And the stock price of AMR Corp. traded at a high of $21.17 a share — almost 17 times its post 9-11 low.

Along the way, CNBC was given access to parts of the operation many travelers don’t see —like what happens to their checked luggage. With tighter security constraints for carry-ons, travelers are checking more bags than ever when they fly. That means luggage is piling up. And it turns out there’s more than baggage flying with you in the compartment underneath the cabin floor.

Often things go smoothly, but this being the airline business, sometimes they don’t. On one such day, CNBC was in Dallas when an American Airlines flight arranged a hasty landing for a plane with mechanical problems — only to learn there was also a medical emergency.

And then things got worse.

© 2012 CNBC, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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