Sky scenes: five new/old airline liveries

 Like decorative or commemorative t-shirts, airplane paint jobs, or liveries, serve as giant ads to promote airline brands or mark special occasions. Here are some new and unique designs recently spotted in the skies.

Qantas goes dotty

Courtesy Qantas

 The newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for Sydney, Australia-based Qantas came out of the factory covered in a unique design based on the “Yam Dreaming” painting by the late indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

The bold red and white livery features close to 5000 dots and is only the second time in the airline’s history that the iconic flying kangaroo always seen on the aircraft tail has been changed to become part of a special painted design.

Lufthansa rebrands for the digital age


Courtesy Lufthansa

New aircraft livery – the first in almost thirty years – is the major piece of a larger brand update German flag carrier Lufthansa revealed on February 7.

“Against the backdrop of digitalization and changing customer requirements, Lufthansa recognized that the company needed to modernize the aircraft appearance in order to remain up to date,” the airline said a statement.

Displayed first on a Boeing 747-8 and an Airbus A321, the new paint scheme no longer features any of Lufthansa’s well-recognized yellow color but focuses instead on a simpler blue-and-white design that uses a darker shade of the blue specifically designed for carrier. The new livery does keep the carrier’s signature crane on the tail, but the crane is now encircled with a thinner ring that the airline says makes the crane look more elegant and gives it more space.

United Airlines looks forward with a look back

Courtesy United Airlines

United Airlines retired it last Boeing 747 passenger aircraft in November 2017 and gave the iconic humped jumbo jet known at the “Queen of the Skies” a special send-off with a ‘retro’ flight re-enacting the airline’s first 747 commercial flight from San Francisco to Honolulu in July 23, 1970. The flight included Mai Tais and other food and drinks featured on the 1970’s era in-flight menu and a special livery featuring the “Friend Ship” design used on the jet’s first flight.

KLM says farewell to its Fokkers

Courtesy KLM

Airlines replace and retire aircraft all the time, but in October 2017, when Dutch carrier KLM retired the last Fokker aircraft in its Cityhopper fleet, the good-bye was especially bittersweet. That’s because Fokker is the Dutch aircraft manufacturer that made the planes KLM first flew when the airline was formed 97 years ago, and the airline has always had Fokkers in its fleet.

To honor the long partnership, in June 2017 KLM applied a special livery featuring the portrait of aviation pioneer and airplane manufacturer Anthony Fokker to a Fokker 70 aircraft that retired on October 28.

Air France launches jaunty Joon


Courtesy Air France

To battle the ultra-low-cost carriers that have been nibbling away at its market, in December 2017 Paris-based Air France introduced a new airline called Joon that the carrier says is aimed at serving young and always-connected “millennials whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology.”

By summer 2018 Joon will be flying from Paris to 13 short and long-haul destinations and in addition to YouJoon, an inflight streaming system that passengers (of any age) can access on their smartphones, laptops or tablets, Joon’s hopes to signal it hipness with a visual identity that has at its core an electric blue color featured in crew uniforms and in the airline’s livery.

(My story about recent liveries spotted in the skies first appeared on CNBC in a slightly different format).

Flying Smurfs for Brussels Airlines

It’s official: fans of Brussels Airlines have chosen a Smurfs over Art Nouveau as the 5th iconic Belgium-based icon to be painted on one of the airline’s planes.

The Smurfs were created by Belgian artist Peyo in 1958.

The winning design, created by an Italian student who responded to a contest call, will be added to a Brussels Airlines Airbus A320 which will start flying around Europe and beyond sometime in March 2018.
Brussels Airlines says its takes ‘belgitude’ to heart, with Belgian icons Tintin, Magritte, the Belgian Red Devils and Tomorrowland already painted on planes.  
On board, Brussels Airlines says it also celebrates ‘belgitude” by offerings passengers Belgian chocolates, beers and menus made by Belgian Star Chefs as well as cabin crew uniforms designed by Belgian designers.
Here are some of the Brussels other ‘icon’ planes:

Still time to help Brussels Airlines choose a special livery

Brussels Airlines has planes with special paint jobs celebrating four Belgian icons (Rackham, Magritte, Trident and Amare), and has a contest underway till the end of August inviting suggestions for a fifth.

Here are just a few of the suggestions that have been submitted so far. There’s still time to send in your own.



The Atomium – a cool leftover from the World’s Fair held in Brussels in 1958.

And of course, a version of the famous Mannekin Pis statue:

Have a better idea? Be sure to send it in.

Brussels Airlines contest for a new special livery

Brussels Airlines has a special livery series going featuring icons from Belgian culture.
They’ve painted Airbus A320s to honor the surrealist painter René Magritte and created a special livery to look like the shark submarine from the Tintin story, “Red Rackham’s Treasure.”


The other specially painted planes include Trident, the official plane of Belgium’s national soccer team, the Red Devils, and Amare,  dedicated to the Belgian music festival called Tomorrowland,

Now the airline is ready to create a livery for the fifth plane in the series and seeking nominations for the new theme from the public.

Anyone with an idea for which Belgium icon image should be celebrated on the next plane is invited to send in idea.

A jury of well-known Belgians will pick two finalists and then the public will get to vote on the winner. The person whose idea is chosen will get to go behind the scenes to follow the process of painting the design on the plane and get to fly on the maiden voyage of the freshly-painted aircraft sometime in March 2018.

Deadline to submit ideas is August 21, 2017. Here are more details on how to enter the Brussels Airlines contest.

Stuck at The Airport  wishes you good luck!


Southwest Airlines celebrates Shark Week

Shark Week is coming to the Discovery Channel July 23 – July 30 and, once again, Southwest Airlines is jumping in with a shark-themed 737-700 featuring five shark species on the fuselage.


The shark plane will fly through Aug. 31, 2017, but on all WiFi-equipped Southwest planes passengers will be able to watch a pre-premiere episode of African Shark Safari on the on demand Shark Week channel.

During Shark Week, passengers can watch the programming live on the Discovery Channel.

And to kick off Shark Week, Southwest and Discovery are planning to do a surprise takeover of a special flight.

Shark fan or not, you might want to enter the Dare to Dive sweepstakes to  Grand Cayman.
The prize includes round trip travel for the winner and three guests,  a $2,000 Ritz Carlton gift card, and a $1,000 Visa gift card for an aquatic adventure. Enter by July 31, 2017. Good luck!