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When the Pope came to the US, his means of getting around were widely discussed — mostly because of his less-than-thrilling aircraft accommodations. At the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ request, he ended up traveling around the East Coast (and back to Italy) on a 777-200 that’s been flying since 2000 and hasn’t changed much since. AA offers two other (far superior) 777 configurations, including a retrofitted 777-200 and the new 777-300ER.

Of course, given the VIP nature of AA’s guest, the airline took care to make the trip more comfortable than just your average commuter flight from Washington, D.C. to New York, or even a long-haul hop across the Atlantic. The airline prepared for the Pope’s visit for more than a year, including the cooperation of many AA departments and participating airports/government agencies.

pope plane

To celebrate the Pope’s visit, American Airlines put together the above video, which chronicles the moves the airline had to make in preparation for Shepherd One’s arrival at each location. Some of the notable changes to the aircraft included the application of the Papal coat of arms decal, two flag holders outside of the cockpit window for the Papal flag and the American flag and replacing the mesh curtains with solid curtains in between the Pope’s first-class cabin, his entourage’s business-class cabin and the media’s economy cabin.

As you’ll see in the video, it was certainly an unforgettable experience for the crew onboard and everyone affiliated. AA was certainly proud to play such a large role in the Pope’s first visit to the US.

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