12 Awesome Airplane Paint Jobs [pics]


Everyone knows flying sucks these days. But for all the hassles and headaches, there's one things airlines still do right -- deck out their planes with cool paint jobs. [via]

Every once in a while an airline will slather a plane or two (and sometimes more) in a custom livery that tells a story. From cartoon characters to heavy metal mascots, here are 12 of the coolest, funniest or downright goofiest we've seen.

We've undoubtedly left out a plane you're convinced belongs on the list. Tell us in the comments.


Kulula Air

Low-cost South African airline Kulula Air got a lot of press when it rolled out Flying 101, a Boeing 737 scribbled with pithy comments and instructions for use. The airline says the paint job was designed to “demystify air travel.”

It’s not the first time Kulula has embraced humor when decorating planes. It once covered a plane in camouflage and painted "No one saw us coming" on the fuselage.

Photo: Kulula Air


All Nippon Airways

It seems the Japanese too often are characterized by a love of Hello Kitty, karaoke, video games and anime. All Nippon Airways does nothing to alleviate the stereotype with this gaudy Pokemon-themed Boeing 747, shown here at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.

Photo: Kentaro lemoto@Tokyo/Flickr


Aeroflot Olympics

Two years ago, Russian airline Aeroflot painted this Boeing 767-300 silver and red to honor Russia's Olympic team. The plane spent weeks flying from Moscow to Beijing and back, shuttling Russian athletes, politicians and dignitaries to and from the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Photo: Le_parkour/Flickr


Air New Zealand's All-Black

New Zealanders love rugby and are obsessed with their national team, the All Blacks. To celebrate its sponsorship of the team, Air New Zealand is doing the logical thing: painting a new plane all black. The Airbus A320, with a slick glossy fuselage and traditional Koru symbol on the tail, begins domestic service in February.

Photo: Air New Zealand


Southwest Bars Little

Southwest Airlines doesn’t take itself too seriously, but some thought it crossed a line when it plastered Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Bar Refaeli down the side of a Boeing 737. Critics called it the "porn plane," and infuriated customers gave Southwest an earful. But if any publicity is good publicity, this was a win for Southwest.

Photo: Southwest Airlines


Continental to the Max

Continental Airlines enlisted German-American pop artist Peter Max in 1999 to create a special livery for one of its wide-body jets. While some airline-spotters love the design, others feel Continental would have done better handing the plane over to graffiti artists. The Boeing 777 flew on the airline’s European routes and wasrepainted in 2007.

Photo: Continental Airlines


Germanwings Bears Watching

We wondered why low-cost carrier Germanwings had an airplane that resembled a raccoon until someone told us it’s actually a bear, the official animal of Berlin. While the sunglasses and goofy grin fail to position Berlin as a hip, cosmopolitan European metropolis, it’s fun to see this Airbus A320 growling down the runway.

Photos: Germanwings


US Airways Football Fan

US Airways isn’t really known for innovative branding, but it takes football seriously. Each of the airline’s four hubs has a plane decked out in the colors and logo of that city's NFL team. The coolest is the Airbus A321 dedicated to the Arizona Cardinals, a nod to the airline's home base just outside Phoenix.

Photo: US Airways Group


Swiss International's San Francisco Job

Swiss International Airlines began daily flights in June between Zurich and San Francisco, painting a plane specifically for the route. While this Airbus A340 manages to pack nearly every known stereotype about San Francisco onto the fuselage, it beats the airline’s standard all-white paint job, which is unquestionably among the most boring in the industry.

Photo: Swiss International Airlines


Qantas Sees Red

This Boeing 737-800 flown by Qantas was designed by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists using a palette inspired by Uluru, or Ayers Rock. Uluru is a World Heritage site in central Australia known for appearing to change color when the sun hits it from different angles. At sunset, Uluru sometimes looks like it is glowing red.

Photo: Qantas


Air France's Pepsi Concorde

Pepsi paid Air France an undisclosed sum in 1996 to repaint a Concorde in its corporate colors. The work was done in secret at a hangar in Paris and formally unveiled in London during a PR event launching the new Pepsi brand.

The plane then made a promotional tour of 10 European and Middle Eastern capitals. This photo was taken in Dublin.

Photo: Carl Ford

Photo: Steve Murez - Black Star


Heavier-Than-Air Metal

OK, this is not an airline. It's better. It's Iron Maiden.

Bruce Dickinson, the band's singer, is a longtime pilot. The band chartered a Boeing 757 (which Dickinson flew) for its mammoth Somewhere Back In Time tour.

Of course it needed a paint job. Behold Ed Force One.

Photos: mandinga!/Flickr

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