Skip to main content

Crazy, gaudy, clever airplane paint jobs

By Tamara Hinson and Simon Busch
September 27, 2013 -- Updated 1806 GMT (0206 HKT)
Bears might fly -- a British Airways plane sporting a panda-themed livery took to the skies this week to mark the launch of a route from London to Chengdu, China. Honoring the Chinese belief in the lucky qualities of the number eight, the China-London leg will have the flight number BA88. But BA isn't the first to put a panda plane into the sky -- click through the gallery to see which airline beat them to it. Bears might fly -- a British Airways plane sporting a panda-themed livery took to the skies this week to mark the launch of a route from London to Chengdu, China. Honoring the Chinese belief in the lucky qualities of the number eight, the China-London leg will have the flight number BA88. But BA isn't the first to put a panda plane into the sky -- click through the gallery to see which airline beat them to it.
HIDE CAPTION
Panda plane, British Airways
Hobbit plane, Air New Zealand
Salmon-Thirty-Salmon, Alaska Airlines
Wunala and Yananyi Dreaming, Qantas
Hello Kitty jet, Eva Air
Alpaufzug, Swiss International Airlines
Kamagurka Hairlines, Tho. Cook Airlines Belgium
Mega Mindy, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium
Bangkok Air
All Blacks livery, Air New Zealand
Bearbus, Germanwings
British Museum livery, Korean Air
Flying 101, Kulula Airlines
Rizzi-bird, Condor
Panda jet, All Nippon Airways
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • British Airways has launched a plane with panda-themed livery
  • There's a long tradition of airlines getting creative with paint jobs for promotional purposes
  • Alaska Airlines turned a 737 into "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon" after a plane hit a fish -- yep, it happened

(CNN) -- Does the paint job of an airplane -- otherwise known as its livery -- make a difference to you?

Does a pastel rendering of Hello Kitty or a cuddly panda impart a sense of fun and high spirits?

Or does it make you think, "Just who the hell is flying this plane and how serious are they about it, really?"

More: Too cute? Hello Kitty plane makes maiden flight to U.S.

Either way, airlines around the world have a proud tradition of getting goofy with the looks of their aircraft.

Air NZ's Hobbit plane - click to expand  Air NZ's Hobbit plane - click to expand
Air NZ's Hobbit plane - click to expandAir NZ's Hobbit plane - click to expand
2012: Hello Kitty takes to the skies

Unusual livery designs are often meant to publicize partnerships or promote special events, such as company anniversaries.

The gallery above shows a few of our favorites over the years.

UPDATE: For those Gwaihir-eyed readers who noticed no Hobbits on the Air New Zealand livery and left us some comments on the matter, we have this just in from Middle Earth:

"I can confirm that this is indeed Air New Zealand's Hobbit-inspired 777-300ER aircraft. Hobbit Bilbo Baggins features at the rear end of the aircraft which isn't visible in the picture you have used," the airline's Emma Field told us.

We've added a different view of the plane to the left of this story.

And if you're wondering about our answers to the questions at the top of this piece., they're: yes, yes and yes!

Let us know what you think of creative airplane liveries in the comments section.

More: How airline liveries reflect a changing industry

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 0256 GMT (1056 HKT)
Journals, luggage tags, Panama hats? Yawn. We've got a selection of gifts travelers will actually use.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Global events, new attractions and anniversary celebrations will put these destinations on travel radars next year. Question is, which one(s) to visit?
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
Of all Christmas traditions out there, one has an All-American pedigree: electric Christmas tree lights.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
.
Looking for snow porn? This helicopter ski adventure will fly you into the Coast Mountains for the freshest runs.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
From Singapore to Norway, there are plenty of reasons to plan your next trip around a fabulous hotel opening its doors next year.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
Step aside Mount Everest, this mountain country is home to cool cafes, crazy drinks and ancient Buddhist tradition.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Nonprofit Ethical Traveler has released its annual list of the developing countries doing the most to promote human rights and preserve their environments.
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1036 GMT (1836 HKT)
These waterfront watering holes have killer ocean views, creative drinks and the mahalo vibe we demand.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Can't wait to book your ticket to Indianapolis and Oakland? The venerable guidebook is right there with you
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0625 GMT (1425 HKT)
By helicopter, snowmobile and big-wheel truck across some of the world's most volatile landscapes.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 2142 GMT (0542 HKT)
Construction begins on a new Singapore airport complex that could make delays and layovers a pleasure.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 1441 GMT (2241 HKT)
Inflight chatterboxes are annoying but they're not the worst violators of onboard etiquette, according to an Expedia study.
ADVERTISEMENT