The New American Airlines Livery


January 6th, 2014

LAST MARCH, American Airlines unveiled its first major identity change in forty-plus years. The news broke as the carrier prepared to emerge from bankruptcy and prepared for its merger with US Airways.

American had bucked more than three decades of design fads. It’s distinctive silver skin, tricolor stripe and gothic “AA” logo dated back to the days of the its 707 “Astrojets.” Heck, my first ever airplane ride, in 1974, was on an American 727 decked out in the very same paintjob that, until last year, was American’s signature.

It was never anything beautiful, but what distinguished it was the logo — the famous “AA,” its red and blue letters bisected by the proud, cross-winged eagle. This was one of the last true icons of airline branding left in the world. Created by Massimo Vignelli in 1967, it was everything a logo should be: elegantly simple, dignified, and instantly recognizable.


The redesign features a U.S. flag motif tail, a faux-silver fuselage, and an entirely new logo that is so unspeakably ugly that it nearly brings tears to my eyes.

The logo — the trademark, the company emblem, to be reproduced on everything from stationery to boarding passes — is the heart of an airline’s graphic identity, around which everything else revolves. It has been said that the true test of a logo is this: can it be remembered and sketched, freehand and with reasonable accuracy, by a young child? The Pan Am globe, the Lufthansa crane, the Delta tricorn, Air New Zealand’s “Koru” and many others meet this criterion beautifully. As did the AA emblem. Maybe they need a tweaking or two over time, but the template of such logos — the really good ones — remains essentially timeless. American Airlines had one of the really good ones. And if you’ve got something like that, you dispense with it at your peril.

I was at Kennedy Airport recently and had the opportunity to view several American Airlines jets — some in the old paintjob, others in the new one. I’m sorry, but there was nothing old or anachronistic looking about the AA emblem. It did not need to be “refreshed,” or “modernized,” as some have suggested. Particularly if you’re replacing it with something so utterly vapid. What exactly is that new, Greyhound Bus-esque logo? It looks like a linoleum knife poking through a shower curtain. If it’s not the worst corporate trademark the airline business has ever seen, I don’t know what is. I can’t imagine a kid with crayons trying to sketch it. Why would anybody want to? It evokes nothing, it says nothing, it means nothing. It gives American Airlines all the look and feel of a bank or a credit card company. I cannot believe how awful a mark this is, and how anybody signed off on it I’ll never understand.

AA New Logo

Its uglier, even, than the hideous Horus head of the new EgyptAir. It’s uglier, even, than the “rising splotch” that Japan Airlines came up with a few years back to replace its beautiful tsurumaru — the circular, red and white crane/Rising Sun it had used since 1960 (and which, by the way, JAL has wisely resurrected).

I’m hardly the only person put off by the new branding. It was controversial from the start, and among those who hated it most were thousands of American’s own employees. Finally, last month, CEO Doug Parker put things to a vote, allowing the carrier’s employees to choose between the new look, or a quasi-retro design that incorporated both the old and new schemes.

AA livery options

By a margin of about 2,000 votes, of some 60,000 cast, workers chose to stay with the new look.

Parker says he is happy about the result. But if he got what he wanted, that’s probably because the vote was effectively rigged. Parker won by making the airplane’s tail the focus of the vote. This misses the point, because like it or hate it, the piano key tail isn’t really the problem. It’s the logo that’s the problem. Neither of the choices dealt with the linoleum knife. In fact, Parker’s retro design would have kept both logos in use — a ridiculous, half-baked appeasement that would have left the plane looking manic and jumbled. A company can’t have two logos.

The smarter compromise would have been, and should have been, to keep the new tail, but dispense immediately with the linoleum knife and put the “AA” on the fuselage. Had this option been put to a vote, I suspect it would have won by a healthy margin.

AA Livery How It Should Be

To be clear, I’m not arguing that American didn’t need a spruce-up. The striping and typeface were overdue for a revision, and livery changes are all but mandatory, it seems, when airlines exit bankruptcy. And I can live with the tail and with the faux-silver body paint. Doing away with the AA symbol, however, was a tragic and unspeakably bad call.




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222 Responses to “The New American Airlines Livery”
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  1. Sena says:

    i think the new livery is TRAVESTY, WHY replace a logo even i as a 5 year old knew looked cool, then TRASH It for a logo that i did not know was American until i saw Wikipedia

  2. Mike Sandberg says:

    I hate the new look. There was nothing more attractive in my mind than the old school American look with the red,white and blue cheatline and the doubleAA with the eagle on the tail. Not to mention the polished aluminum.

  3. offshoretomorrow says:

    I have strong feelings about screwing around with good design for no good reason too. But I don’t object to the new ‘beak’ logo, looks kinda neat. Unneccesary though, cos there’s nothing wrong with the AA.

    The tail, however! Epilepsy inducingly trashy and flashy.

    Doesn’t resemble the US flag either. Not to these eyes.

  4. Alan Dahl says:

    Pat you may get your wish, the US Copyright Office has rejected American Airline’s request for copyright on their new logo again. Maybe now they will give up and bring back their iconic AA logo?

  5. Clark Anderson says:

    Someone on stated the new logo looks like a Seagull sticking it’s beak out of a mail box!

  6. dick greenwood / retired veteran says:

    AAA / Polished Aluminum / Orange Lightening Bolts

    Like the previous comment said; icons. You were one; now YOU AIN’T.

  7. Carlos Si says:

    I tweaked that livery a little bit. It looks a hellofalot better than the current design. It adds more color to the fuselage and integrates the double A with the titles.

  8. Jo Hendrick says:

    As an English person this is just my opinion, but there are some things that are unique, wonderful and intrinsically beautiful American icons that should be updraded only with absolute sympathy, think Airstreams, Ford Mustangs, Rubicon Jeeps etc. Therefor it was a shame to me to lose the polished metal of the original livery on AA aircraft. The newer faux silver body paint is no longer beautiful, but boring and no longer sets it apart from the other airlines in the same way. Having said that they have become much more customer focussed since merging with US airways and so are a lot more of a pleasure to fly with 🙂

  9. Xavier Sullivan says:

    When I think American Airlines, the first thing that pops into my head is a nice, shiny, stainless steel fuselage with red, white, and blue pinstripes across the side with AA on the back, and the sunset reflecting off of the shine of the plane. Nevermind the sunset, but still, I don’t think of an ugly dull silver, but like you said, it’s really that stupid, weird tricolored slash with the little curly thingy coming off of the side. That logo has nothing to do with the airline, unlike ‘AA’ which was instantly recognizable and briefly summarized who the logo belonged to with the company’s initials as its logo, along with the X shaped feather and egale, which complemented the letters quite nicely. In my opinion, the new livery was just a bad idea from the beginning. When you look at the new livery you have to read the ‘American’ on the side just to know who’s plane it is. Unlike the old livery which you knew whose it was from the get go. I hope American will decide to switch back to their original livery.

    • Bobby Paluga says:

      American’s retro Eagle, talons down was magnificent. I too liked the polished aluminum body, it’s red, white and cheat line. And it’s certainly possible to update the logos, and text with newer forms
      Looking at the world of sports which College Football logos are most effective? Yet simple? BYU’s blue Y in a white circle clearly ID’s this team. Southern Cal’s US design, Oregon’s O, Texas’ Longhorn T. Same way in NFL football a simple G on a green and yellow background signifies Green Bay, the LA Rams helmet design, the 49’ers use of the 49, all very effective and endearing designs.
      I liked Continental ‘s world tail, but the plain united impresses no one.
      United has had some outstanding examples of fuselage art, Orange, blue, red, commercials talking about United’s friendly skies, and stars towards the tail. After they moved on from this here does the gross mess of alternating black and dark blue stripes.

    • Mike Sandberg says:

      I hope they do go back to the old scheme with the polished aluminum and the double AA and the stripes on the fuselage.

  10. John Dawson - UK says:

    My friend and I were exchanging messages about the sad death of the American Airlines Captain when we came to know about the aircraft livery changes. There is an old saying, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.” This surely applies in this case, the AA tail logo could be recognised, even from a long distance, the new design has no class at all. I’m sure any infant school child if asked, would not have made such a mess of it. I just hope British Airways do not think of hiring the ‘donk’ who thought of this, to do any work on our aircraft.


  12. Karen says:

    I will miss the old eagle. It dates to the era when American had an advertising jingle with the line,

    “fly like the young eagles fly.”

  13. Lee Miller says:

    Get rid of the new logo completely. Then slightly modify the old logo to have a contemporary look. For instance, the type font could be modified. General Electric still has the same logo for a century, but it has been slightly updated to good effect. AA made a mistake dropping an iconic logo.

  14. Josh says:

    I’ve flown American many times over the past year. I love their new planes, but the new logo and tail remain total crap. I hope the employees vote to keep the AA logo and that they find a sensible way to use it.

    I’d love to know more about how design firms come up with such awful designs and about how companies decide to adopt them. This the same thing as the redesign of the Gap logo from 2012 and that awful University of California logo that came and went earlier this year.

  15. Pillai says:

    Yeah, still no love from me for that design. Especially the tail. Any designer worth their salt would tell you, you paint the tail to appear it larger than what the vertical fin is, it messes up the overall proportion of the plane. That is one of the ways car companies hide their future model’s shape when road testing their still-classified cars.

    But American made it part of their permanent design. And of course, an emblem that means zilch, something that looks like it came out of Logo Designer dot com.


  16. Jeff Latten says:

    Totally agree with you about the logo. The AA was just classic; the new logo looks like squat. And while we’re at it, how about bring back the Lockheed Super Connie, for limited runs at inflated prices for nostalgia freaks?

  17. Mark Richards says:

    “If it’s not the worst corporate trademark I have ever seen, I don’t know what is.”

    When the former Bush maladministration was off nation building,John Bolton was installed as its representative to the UN. All of my friends complained that his arrogant, militaristic, pee-on-your-grave attitude was abhorrent. “Well, yet it is,” I countered, “but nonetheless I do think he’s an excellent representative of the current maladministration.”

    And so the worst corporate trademark ever represents one of the worst airline corporations ever. It fits.

    Better to keep the lipstick away from the pig.

  18. Rod Miller says:

    I’ll be damned if I can understand why American or Iberia need to change a blessed thing. Valujet after the Everglades disaster, yes, OK. But short of something like that, there’s much to be said for an enduring and recognizable brand. Iberia has looked great lo these past 35 years.

    God forbid that Air France hire any consultants ….

  19. Aaron Huslage says:

    You didn’t mention the utter failure that is the “new” United logo. Which is a terrible combination of the worst pieces of Continental and United’s old logos. I guess they left out the GMST, but it’s still pretty darned hideous.

    • Patrick says:

      It’s not that bad (it’s rather attractive, actually, in a boring sort of way), but you’re right — and I say the same thing in my book — they managed to take the least interesting aspects of the UA and CO liveries and combined them. There’s no excuse for using the CO “soup strainer” tail.

      • Mike Sandberg says:

        The United color schemes I would love to see return are the Stars and Bars Friendship scheme and the Tri-color scheme of the 80s

    • Bobby Paluga says:

      I agree with you 100%, the United logo screams “temporary until we get the merger completed”
      How uncreative can one get with UNITED?

  20. Kevin E says:

    How come no one has noticed that the flag on the tail is missing a stripe. It only has 12 and the U.S. Flag has 13.

  21. JJ says:

    Inasmuch as I am strictly traditional, when done right and I mean right….., with taste, elan, class, intelligence, I will accept a new design – in this case a rebranding. American Airlines was becoming admittedly a bit “tired” in their many years design, but please……, you do not throw out the baby with the bath water as they now have with this unconscionable hipster ‘kabuki design’ as it were…….. Whew…. Disgusting. Tasteless. Classless. Stupid.

    That tail design screams vomit bag. And then some.

    Was the designer on not just LSD, but, as well, meth AND crack? Obviously. And the “best” part of this monstrosity being that the client signed off on same. And for a public company no less. Unreal. How bad American……? By virtue of your new design I will go out of my way to never fly you unless it’s absolutely necessary and even then, I’ll take the bus. After all, your shockingly racist and wholly insulting preferential “Black Atlas” program put you six feet under with many non negroes beginning with myself, this design gaff-O-rama is your headstone.

  22. C Spillman says:

    WOW….am I the only one who loves the new logo? I worked with United for eight years and specifically didn’t apply with American because I thought the planes were so dated. It is important to change with the times and American became a beacon of a company that was lost in the past. The planes were old and the logo was old.
    Now working with US Airways I’m looking forward to the new AA livery although Doug Parker, US Airways and the new AA CEO, isn’t convinced it is staying.
    Keep in mind that AA couldn’t keep the silver because the new planes, like the 787, are made out of a composite, and not the same bright silver of the past.
    At first I thought the engines should be another color but that is also starting to look dated…like the Delta and US Airways blue engines.
    The plane looks sleek and the large American letters look great.
    The only thing I agree with is the eagle doesn’t work for me…way too stylized.
    My goal would be the US Airways flag replacing the funky eagle and call it a day.

    • M Harrison says:

      I agree with you! I love the new look, I think the new branding finally brings American into the new century and not stuck in the 1950’s. The tail may be a bit garish, but somehow it pulls it off with looking modern and very reflective of the US flag. I think if they’d put a star (or stars) on it, it would have been too much.

  23. The whole makeover is absolutely hideous. Does nobody value simplicity and class anymore? It seems to be working OK for Apple!

    • Bobby Paluga says:

      Apple kept running across my memory also. I call Apple’s approach “simple elegance” beautiful in its own right, but simple

  24. themis says:

    i like the new livery

  25. themis says:

    thats new american airlines now they have a boieng 777-300er the livery is new 2013

  26. Gary says:

    I knew Patrick wouldn’t like it.

  27. Mark says:

    It’s horrible, very horrible, i always wanted to pilot an AA plane, wiht it’s logo, their stripes and the campus AA logo, but now i must soy that if i bache a pilot, i will never pilot those horrible planes.

    What are you doing?? You have lost a fan of your old livery planes

  28. Mark says:

    It’s horrible, very horrible. I always wanted to pilot an AA plane, with it’s silver decoration, their stripes and the AA logo, but now, i think that AA it’s not my infance AA.

  29. Jay Sitlani says:

    It’s as if the love child of Captain America and Wonderwoman scratched something out with a box of crayons. And produced something that looks like a Liberian LCC.

    • paul bagley says:

      clown plane. American hired a company that doesn’t know or care about design, a marketing co. that just wanted to get paid to make everybody happy. Amateurs. There was room for change/updating their image but the balance of change was completely lost. A lost opportunity.

  30. Ram Todatry says:

    Loved the old logo and colors. Yes, the new logo, the tail colors – awful indeed. I understand the change from the silvery finish to another color for the fuselage, as the newer planes joining the fleet would be made of a carbon-graphite composite.

    I read somewhere that the lady who designed the “new look” (!@#$%^&*) was awarded for her artsy efforts.

    Sorry guys bring the old logo and the tail design back. If they don’t maybe I should forget my Advantage program. But given the market conditions, whose program would I switch to?

  31. Dave says:

    I know the old logo is well known but it comes a time when it’s time to change. A merger between two airlines is a good start. The old logo was pretty dated and had a 1950’s look to it. I like the new logo. The livery is much cleaner and bolder and iconic. Hard to believe anyone could be offended by a change in logo. That’s a bit over the top I think.

  32. Jeff says:

    Oh God.. this is FUUUGLY.

  33. Robert says:

    I for one enjoy it. SimPainting over that bare aluminum and reinventing the airline is something they’ve needed! 40+ years… come on guys. UPDATES have to occur to keep public and invigorate interest about the company. Plus honestly, I was getting pretty damn tired of looking at glare of the bare aluminum and just two colored “A’s” and an Eagle on. Lack of inventive and honestly quite cheap looking. This paint overall is quite simple, just a painted fuselage, contemporary wind swetp flag, and little AA flavor up front. Nothing beyond ‘simple’ with this. So I do feel it is ‘elegantly simple’ that is ‘dignified’, and who the hell would say this isn’t ‘instantly recognizable’, minus all the damn glare! I like it

  34. Anon says:

    This is almost as bad as the ‘SureJet’ re-branding of ExpressJet.

  35. Falladowna says:

    As a professional designer and private pilot/aviation geek, I couldn’t agree with you more, Patrick. AA could easily have evolved/updated/protected the successful elements of their branding to last another couple of decades, (Lufthansa anyone?), but they threw the baby out with the bath water.

  36. Richard says:

    I think they are getting ready for merger with CUBANA. I will miss the double As. Hopefully they will change it after merger with US Airways.

  37. Lordieme says:

    Lets be honest, the old livery was a homage to the 60’s.

    The new livery brings the airline in line with the premium carriers of the world. Fresh look could also mean positve new launches of new sevices, developing the 60’s model of inflight care to a new level.

    At least the airline didn’t go the Southwest route. Hello Tacky. The anouncements on board could include “sit back and let the crew show you how much our standards have dropped”.

    Or worst still, follow the old British Airways branding of world art on their tails. The airline lost its presence and identity.

  38. A Pillai says:

    That logo is something will spit out in under 5 seconds. Seriously.

  39. Ken YYC says:

    Stunning! Very 21st Century. Almost as good as Air Canada’s. Why are you “Americans” so mired in the past?

    • Bruce Scottow says:

      To Ken YYC from Bruce LAX:

      My sense of the blog entries above is not that anyone is “mired in the past.” I don’t think we’re anymore married to the AA logo than Canadians are married to AC’s maple leaf design.

      But entering the 21st century doesn’t mean that any change is a good one. This update is not a good one, and as I mentioned earlier in the blog, I bet there will be some tweaking of it in the next several years. Let’s stay tuned.

    • Paul says:

      Ken, Air Canada would have been better off keeping their previous logo. It was a classic. As for Americans, we are not wed to the past, but instead dislike change for the worse. American’s new design, like Air Canada’s new logo, is just that… change for the worse.

      • Patrick says:

        Indeed, the new Air Canada livery is hideous, with that ugly pixellated maple leaf. And that weird soapy blue… it’s the color of the tiling in an airport men’s room.

  40. Bruce Scottow says:

    My first impressions:
    1. Are you kidding?
    2. The tail looks like a piano keyboard
    3. The livery looks like something from the US Postal Service
    4. It’s too “tail heavy”
    5. Oh, I guess that’s the eagle?

    But, in fairness to AA:
    1. New composites have forced them to re-think the silver, unpainted look of the past
    2. An update was overdue
    3. The AA/US merge dictated some sort of change
    4. At least they kept the red/white/blue colors

    Other, very subjective comments:
    1. The “AA” was used in clever ways, such as their AAdvantage program, and its “Plan AAhead” redemption, etc. What now?
    2. The UA/CO livery is a huge success – fresh and light with its “world” logo totally in keeping with the name “United.”
    3. I get the stylized flag motif, but I’d leave that for the USPS, Amtrak, etc.

    Having said all that, we’ll all probably get used to it in time. Very few new liveries are ever widely embraced. My guess, is that in a few years, they’ll be revisiting this one, much as Delta did.

  41. Ken says:

    Funny how I came upon this site/article. When someone sent me the news of the liv change at AA, my first visual association to the new logo was..Greyhound lines. So I went to google images to get a reminder why and lo and behold, there among the hundreds of Greyhound bus logo pics was ONE of the new AA livery, linked to this site. So I gave a look assuming I’d find my suspicion confirmed. Sure enough, Mr. Smith slipped the observation into a superb critique. And to find several cogent, stimulating comments following made for a pleasant, serendipitous little browse today. Thank you all.
    ps: why do these corporations keep “stylizing” the American flag, anyway? Perhaps they feel they’ve taken ownership of it? A healthier society would have zero tolerance for such nonsense.

    A hilarious behind the scenes promo on this subject, featuring the “talent” at Futurebrand and AA:

  42. Tony Griffin says:

    I know mainline AA was strapped for cash, but having an executives 5 year old kid show mommy or daddy how to paint the airplane is ridiculous. Two words: Ray Finkle!

  43. Elizabeth Matheson says:

    LOL! American is also having a uniform change for pilots, flight attendants, and customer service personnel. I can’t wait to see THAT!

    Designers Ken Kaufman and Isaac Franco will design “more modern” uniforms.

    In view of the “more modern” paint design for the planes, this next step should prove to be quite entertaining.

    “We plan to mix the elegance of American’s rich fashion heritage and incredible style with today’s cutting-edge technology. It’s about creating a wardrobe inspired by our fashion runway for American’s runway.”

    Ken Kaufman, fashion designer

    “We recognize that individuals make up American’s incredible team and we are creating a wardrobe of pieces that will make each person look and feel amazing. We want to send a very powerful message when the plane door opens and a new iconic look emerges.”

    Isaac Franco, fashion designer

  44. Mark Richards says:

    If I were thinking of “merging”, it would not be with an organization who proved themselves adept at wasting even more money. The cost of painting even a single airplane has to be enormous – never mind paying the soul-dead designers who thought up this confused mess. And that tail! Is there no sense of history – or shame? Having the tail of an A-300 fall off might cause a decent airline to tone down the past and perhaps divert attention elsewhere. Try the wings next time, just put all that crap on the top where – at least from the ground – we can’t see it.

    John Bolton, the US representative to the UN during the second Bush maladministration, is someone I considered a great success – for he brought to bear the true America: jingoistic, arrogant, pushy, and blatantly mediocre.

    This logo, a true short circuit, fits that bill nicely.

  45. Bill Melichar says:

    It looks like this one is a loser by all of the comments I’ve read, but I must chime in that I always hated the red white and blue stripe of the previous livery, BORING. My favorite American livery was the orange thunderbolt seen on the first 707’s and Astrojets with the AA Eagle, and on their aircraft dating back to the DC-3. There are some parts of the new livery I like which is the simple cleanliness, and airline name, no longer gaudy, but refined, and the painted fuselage in a silver tone. I think this was necessary since planes like the 787 are composite, and will no longer be silver. I also agree that the AA Eagle logo should have been retained, and maybe updated with a real Eagle in it, or a better stylized one than on the red white blue livery. The thing that really disappoints me is the new tail which I guess is supposed to represent an American flag. I was hoping to see American introduce some new colors into their new livery rather than the boring red, white, and blue. I hoped that they might go back to the thunderbolt in an updated stylized form, or maybe introduce more rainbow colors, rather than sticking with r,w,and b. I like the new livery better than the stripes, but do wish they had retained the Eagle logo in a more identifiable form.

  46. Tricia Basil says:

    Absolutely, totally agree.
    To me, the tail looks like red, white and blue piano keys. And what a blah, wishy-washy choice of red and blue shades. As if USAir’s stylized “US flag” wasn’t unremarkable enough.

    A former Pan Am and United flight attendant.
    (I know a great logo when I see one!)

  47. Dennis says:

    The new AA logo & paint design sucks big time. They had a good & long time reconizable logo. A picture representing a company is making use of universal language. People of all languages can understand it without, knowing how to read a name spelled out. Based on simple knowledge like that why on earth would they change a good thing. I understand changing the silver to a painted silver cause the new plane materials, maybe changing something on the American name that’s spelled out on the side of the plane or something, but changing the logo is just plane stupid. Personally I was fine with the logo & paint design, the one I grew up on & remembered since I been alive which has been nearly 40 years. To me it represented an airline that said it ment business & it had strength to meet your needs. Now they just want to have a design that represents a casualness. Just a side note the major rail company I work kinda did the same thing, went from something reconizable to something boring & cheesy.

    • Peter Skipp says:

      “I understand changing the silver to a painted silver cause the new plane materials …”

      Dennis, that was an excuse they wheeled out to hang the whole sorry revamp business on, but it was just that — an excuse!

      They flew beige-primed BAC One-Elevens in the 1960’s that were aluminum-foiled, and gray-primed A300s in the 1990’s. I think aluminum-foiled 787s would have looked great, and would have won them respect for the nod to tradition.

  48. Peter Skipp says:

    The typeface is fair. The anaemic and out-of-place “Flight Symbol” is straight out of 1980s bank branding. Its halftones were passe in the 1990s! The tail is straight out of Latin America. There is no attention to detail — bare engines, bare winglets…
    It all feels like a minor post-Soviet nation’s idea of what a go-ahead airline ought to look like. A self-respecting African startup would have done better.
    AMR ought to be sued for dumping a world top ten brand at a time of corporate turmoil and replacing it with this hodge-podge! This sets a new definition of corporate hubris!

  49. Christine says:

    That part where you mention whether a logo can be drawn by a child freehand from memory? That jumped out at me, because on a flight just two days ago, I started sketching the liveries and tails of major US airlines, and even though I fly United more than American, I could draw the American plane while I had to look at a picture to remember what the United (Continental) globe looked like.

    The whole livery… it’s just awful.

  50. Anna says:

    If AA’s new design is patriotic, why is the American flag reduced to an abstraction that is beyond recognition? All I can say is that the new design is completely lacking the tasteful elegance of the old, and screams commercialism in a new toy sort of way. If you find the new design unattractive, please sign this petition started on

  51. Tom Hill says:

    How about a licensing fee, payable into the national debt, from any company using “America”, “American” or “U.S. in their name and/or marketing?

  52. RMB says:

    I like the old logo and livery. (And I still have a patch from the ’70s that a friend got me – silver, with orange & blue lettering. A collectible.)

    I’m curious if AA will have the guts to add the new logo on the JFK terminal wall alongside the existing collection showing its transformation over the last decades? That will show how uninspiring the new one really is.

  53. Juan Trippe says:

    American can paint its planes any way it wants. It will still be a long time before I willingly book AA again–or actually pay for a seat once I use the last of my miles. Too many old, dirty planes, surly crews, indifferent staff on the ground. An awful C-class trip JFK-LHR a couple of years ago on a tired 777–we’re not even talking one of AA’s century-old M80s–with bad food, dirty seats, and unpleasant attendants was the last straw. The competition beats it by a mile–including in terms of graphics. Lazy, cartoonish effort at an update.

  54. CF says:

    I think the problem people have with the new livery is change. The now old AA look was so familiar, mind you it lasted more than a few decades, and AA is not a small company were brand identity is unimportant. As a graphic designer but also a plane fanatic I can say this new paint scheme is as good as the old one, it is instantly recognizable and no people, look beyond the change, it is not bad. Someday, maybe 50 years from now most of us will be complaining at the new livery.

    • Patrick says:

      I disagree.

      Like I said in response to another poster, I’m not arguing that American didn’t need a spruce-up. The striping and typeface were overdue for change. While I’m not terribly fond of new tail or fuselage, my complaint is mostly about the total abandonment of the AA logo and its replacement by that hideous Greyhound-meets-Bank of America thing.

    • Paul says:

      The problem is not “change” CF, the problem is bad design. We all welcome change for the better, but change for the worse is regressive. Change for the sake of change is just gratuitous.

  55. Larry Bradshaw says:

    This blog was obviously written by an older person who hasn’t been able to keep up with changing trends. I think the design is clean and quite striking.

    The old AA logo, over 40 years old, communicated an out of date airlines which just couldn’t keep up with changing times.

    • Gia says:

      The AA letter logo has changed through all the years, but has always been distinctive. That tail looks like it was in a printer paper jam. I’m looking at a flag across the street right now. The red and blues are deep and certainly very, very different from the new choice.

    • Patrick says:

      And “older person”? I’m 46, and I’ve been writing (ranting?) about airline identity/liveries in my columns and blogs for the past ten years.

      I’m not arguing that American didn’t need a change of some kind. The striping and typeface both, I think, needed refreshing. (Honestly, I don’t hate the piano key tail the way a lot of people seem to.) That’s not what this is about. The gist of my complaint is the abandonment of the AA emblem and its replacement by that ugly linoleum knife.

    • Bruce Scottow says:

      The comment, “…obviously written by an older person who hasn’t been able to keep up with changing trends…” would be a valid response if the new livery didn’t appear to be designed by an older person who hasn’t been able to keep up with changing trends.

      Just saying…

    • Ian Bell says:

      An older person who hasn’t been able to keep up with changing trends?

      Bullcrap! Age has nothing to do with it. I’m a good bit younger that Patrick and I happen to agree with him.

      The new American logo looks a little bit too Web 2.0 to me. That style in itself is pretty dated (it was current more than 5 years ago). Yes, that’s right, the new log itself hasn’t kept up with trends.

    • Paul says:

      WOW Gary, you must have ESP to suggest the blogger is older and therefore dislikes change or can not keep up with the “trends.” There are plenty of young people who similarly dislike this logo.

  56. Guadalupe says:

    Next thing you know they will force us to become citizens. This is extremely offensive. I don’t like America forcing me to see the countries colors. I will get a petition going to get this banned or to boycott the airline. I hate seeing America’s colors and the American flag.

    • Gia says:

      The plural of country is countries. The posessive is country’s. My suggestion is not to fly U.S. carriers. I sure do not see the flag on this aircraft, and there is also a small flag on each U.S. certified aircraft that you must have missed, but that is beside your point. Relocate?

      • Paul says:

        As you mentioned, it’s a “small” flag not noticeable unless you are looking for it. When you compare apples to oranges you only perpetuate the stereotype of loud garish obnoxious Americans, similar to this “new” tail design.

    • Anderson says:

      You want to live in our country but you don’t want to become a citizen and our flag offends you? Get he **** out of our country then. Only in America is this kind of garbage tolerated. Take your ass to China and tell them you are offended by their flag and see what happens to your ass.

  57. Andres says:

    This is how the world works, its evolving, you can not remain the same. Good for American! I like it!

    • Paul says:

      American’s new look is not “evolving,” but regressing. No one is saying to stay the same, but change for the worse is a step backwards. Moreover, change for the sake of change is just gratuitous.

  58. Jose Gonzalez says:

    That is offensive to me. I don’t want to see these colors. I think we should boycott them to change them. I fly american all the time. Now I feel forced to see the american flag. Shame on them for doing this.

    • mrak says:

      I don’t see an American flag.

      My country’s flag has stars and stripes.

      All I see here are stripes and stripes.

      • Guadalupe says:

        I see america’s colors and the airline is american airlines. That is itself is offensive, I want to live in america without seeing it’s colors. There is nothing wrong with that. If it were up to me I would ban the american flag and anything resembling it’s colors. It is extremely offensive!!!

  59. Thomas says:

    The old logo was timeless and classic. Why mess with perfection? True, some updating is fine, but why discard all these decades of marketing and identification? I agree that the AA eagle logo will appear again in the future once: it is elegant and irreplaceable.

    • Tony Griffin says:

      You said it Thomas. I was working for DL when Leo Mullin decided to rebrand and we went got that God-awful interim paint scheme. Then they tried taking the angles out of the widget. Yes indeed, the AA “scissor” eagle will be back sooner than we know.

  60. Ian Duncan says:

    I am glad others recognized the Greyhound look. Its the first thing i thought of when i saw it. I showed my wife who said you had better not share that with American or they will put you on the “do not upgrade” list. (AA EXP).

  61. Jim Wattengel says:

    Just a little background info on the shiny aluminum used before:

    It was not unpainted. A clear coat was used to maintain the shine. The sheet aluminum alloy used is clad with a very thin coat of pure aluminum. Pure aluminum rapidly forms a microscopic oxide layer which is not shiny. The clear coat is applied before the oxide layer can form.

    So there was very little, if any, weight or cost savings associated with the shiny aluminum look.

    • JuliaZ says:

      Thanks, Jim… so, an urban legend debunked. Well done! 🙂 So this takes me right back to… silver paint, why not?

  62. Joe says:

    They lie to the bankruptcy judge and say they cannot be successful, unless they tear up all our contracts and force us to take concessions (again). 70,000+ employees harmed in the process. A few months later they blow hundreds of millions on a hideously ugly logo and unnecessary rebranding effort just for funsies. Typical disgusting thoughtless management behavior. It should be illegal.

  63. Ray says:

    I don’t think the logo is all that bad. A bit overly minimalist, perhaps, but not horrid. The red, white, and blue says “American” without saying it, and it references the eagle in the old logo. Not great, but not awful.

    My beef is with the rest of it. I don’t think the oversized grey “American” works, partly because it attempts to ignore the windows, but they are simply too contrasty to get away with that. And like Chuck, all I see when I look at the tail is piano keys. Is there a piano lounge on board, like there was in Airport ’77?

    • Patrick says:

      “…The red, white, and blue says “American” without saying it…”

      I disagree. It doesn’t say ANYTHING. And if it does say American, it doesn’t say it with the class and style of the “AA.”

      “…it references the eagle in the old logo…”

      Not really. And as somebody else pointed out, it’s a logo that relies too much on color. As a SHAPE it’s pretty useless, which for a logo is a terrible mistake.

      There are no excuses for the logo (the eagle’s Beak, the Linoleum Knife, whatever you want to call it). It’s a horrible emblem. It’s ugly, it evokes nothing (except a bank or credit card company), and without color it’s just some bizarre, incoherent random shape.

      • Kent says:

        ” it evokes nothing (except a bank or credit card company), and without color it’s just some bizarre, incoherent random shape.”

        I don’t know, Patrick. What did the Delta widget evoke?

        I’m hoping that AA doesn’t have to go through three color schemes in four years to find the one that appeals to the lowest common denominator.

  64. Rod says:

    Simple is beautiful. Complicated looks, well, complicated. There was a general trend in the late 60s and early 70s toward simple (AA, Air Canada, Alitalia, KLM, etc.). This has now been replaced by a trend toward complicated overreach.

    If it ain’t broke, why in hell try to fix it??

  65. Dan says:

    Like some on other forums have said, when I first saw the redesigned logo, I figured they’d at least put it on the tail. Hell it has the same slope as the tail, so why not? That new tail seems out of place

  66. Mark R. says:

    The money for the new logo would be better spent on raises for the employees (ranging from pilots to janitors).

    It’s been said a camel is a horse designed by a committee. One can only guess how many hours of committee meetings went into this irrelevant change.

  67. AA pilot says:

    This logo is just horrendous and embarrassing. The first thought I had was “what the hell is that 7′ tall pair of 3D glasses”. Then I realized it looks more like a shark fin leaving a bloody trail of our employee contracts in its wake. (which is quite fitting actually, if they are trying to rub it in our faces). It looks nothing like a bird anymore. Also, on top of that the spacing is off, it’s too far away from the writing and the angle doesn’t even match.

    It looks like somebody plagiarized and tweaked the greyhound logo for the side, then threw a Colgan-esque tail on it. How is that original and innovative? A child with down-syndrome could come up with a better design. When the critique’s across the internet are overwhelmingly negative.. that should be a hint.

    The only thing really acceptable about the whole thing is the big lettering. I could have done that on my iphone in 2 seconds though.

    Why did they not have an employee vote on the designs? All the other design proposals we have seen were far better than this.

    • AA pilot says:

      to be honest.. I don’t “hate” the tail.. I think it could be better and certainly more original. But I don’t mind having an American Flag on my plane. It’s that atrocious failure of a logo that really pisses me off. It will now be on everything plastered all over everything we have.

      Bloody shark fin airlines in 3D..

  68. Caro says:

    OK, I hate the new logo too. But something really should have changed about AA’s livery a long time ago. The old one looks great on an MD-80, but the proportions (especially the Helvetica “American”) never quite fit properly on the somewhat bulkier modern fuselages like the 737 or 777.

    Still, there should have been a way to improve the general style without ditching the iconic eagle.

  69. Jim says:

    the logo doesn’t bothr me as much as losing that silver skin. Talk about instant identification. Why would you choose to give that up?

    • Dan says:

      As previously mentioned, the new composite materials require paint so they couldn’t keep the bare aluminum.

      • JuliaZ says:

        If it must be painted, then why not SILVER paint?

        • Planes, trains, and automob... says:

          > “If it must be painted, then why not SILVER paint?”

          Metallic paint = metal = heavy

          Not painting the old aluminum skinned planes was cool and classic. Painting composite skinned planes aluminum is just wrong on so many levels. Every new plane introduced/ manufactured from this point forward will be partially/ mostly/ entirely composite, so paint is here to stay.

          Choosing a light grey echoes the silver past, while trying to keep the paint as light and therefore as low-weight as possible. You know, to economize on fuel, be green, or have more money left over to pay employees better or to offer lower fares.

          The tail is bold. Takes some getting used to, but at least the planes won’t look like everyone else’s. Imagine they took the boring path and made the plane white with some blue design tail or blue and red design tail. You won’t get that “Is that Delta, British, jetblue or American?” look.

          Now they need to work on repairing labor relations and merging the 2 airlines. Neither task will be easy. Concerns about livery will seem quaint in the not too distant future.

  70. Chuck Padgett says:

    The tail looks like Captain America’s piano.

  71. John says:

    You got it all wrong, that’s not an eagle’s beak pointing through a shower curtain. It is just a red decal incorrectly applied to the airframe and the wind is just slowly peeling it back. I’m sure the red decal will be completely gone after a few more cycles. 🙂

    • Casey says:

      Exactly! Those red and blue splotches look like my kid’s stickers peeling off the playroom wall.

      My training is design and marketing, and I’m not a 50something white mail. I think the new tail looks political more than anything, sort of like “this plane wants to be Air Force One when it grows up.” Makes me wonder if the committee that approved it are all right-wing republicans.

      Good commercial design, according to my eminent professors in the field, communicates clearly what the product is or does; by that standard the new logo fails. Maybe it was time for the aluminum tube look to go, but the replacement is “new Coke” all the way.

    • Randall says:

      I am relieved to note that I was not the only one who thought the logo looked like the decal is peeling off. I do not see the rest of it as “classic ugly”, just forgettable. Not worth whatever they paid for it.
      The problem is, CEOs all want to “leave their mark” on a company. Well, if you are trying to emerge from bankruptcy, your employees hate the company, and you are about to merge with a competitor, what kind of positive difference can you make? So pay a bunch of consultants to come up with some “design by committee.”
      The point of all advertising is to make the brand memorable. Some beautiful or memorably funny ads may be brilliant art or television, but they fail because you do not remember the brand itself. The trick is to come up with something that conveys brand identity, and keep it for a long time, perhaps with minor tweaks (different colors?). The minute you redo a logo from scratch, you have thrown away any value in the previous brand.

  72. Lahmisc says:

    I don’t think the new livery is ugly necessarily, just that its bland, boring, and undistinguishable from every other white plane on the runway.

  73. Will From Minneapolis says:

    5 MINUTES HATE! —? (Orwell would be proud!:) Who knew everyone here was such an art critic! And so many haters! What happened to at least humanely caring about the art team’s feelings a teensy bit? Corporate logo designers are people too! Can’t you kids play nice? Besides, after a water landing that tail will very easy to spot!

    • Old Rockin' Dave says:

      I may or may not know much about art, but I do know that if the design team was so sensitive that our comments will bruise their tender feelings, that they would never have their work painted fifty feet high across the tails of a fleet of airplanes.
      And I take back what I said about the beak looking like a linoleum knife – it looks more like what you’d get if a linoleum knife could mate with a wood chisel.

    • Ronald says:

      You must be a designer.

      Every! Word! Is! Overly! Punctuated!

      Having said that, I don’t find the design as eye-bleedingly bad as some, but it’s not only not as iconic, but won’t transfer to other media (someone pointed out cups, coasters, etc.), not to a black & white medium.

      All in all a bad choice for the logo; the tail, “meh”.

    • Paul says:

      You seem to hate the “haters” Will. Regardless, everyone is entitled to their opinion, art critic or not. Indeed, Amercain’s new logo is shamefully ugly.

  74. Jeff Latten says:

    UGLY! No other way to describe this hodge-podge of corporate graphic BS. Go back to the double A logo.

  75. Ralph Weidemann says:

    Congratulations American Airlines. Not only did you update but you did it with a bang. Welcome to the 21st century. Gone from dowdy, fussy and old-fashioned to fresh, clean and modern. I’m impressed. It’s about time.

  76. Tom says:

    Patrick, when I saw the title to this blog entry I was expecting something awful……… but frankly when I clicked on the picture, I liked it! Hey I’m an old guy but have learned to live with change and I give this a thumbs up. Most of the other comments clearly agree with you but I guess we all have our own opinion.I bet if you give it a few years and it will grow on you.

  77. Old Rockin' Dave says:

    I’m glad you told us that’s an eagle’s beak on the logo. It looks more like a linoleum knife.

  78. 48LEXNYC says:

    The tail is obnoxious! The logo ugly, cold and dull it would look better on a credit card. Up until now I’ve never said anything bad about AA leadership, but this new design is horrific. I’ve worked with many teams designing new company logos, print material etc., the new AA logo would have never made it to the second round, the tail design rejected at first sight. I understand now why AA is one of the most hated companies in the travel industry… BAD LEADERSHIP.

  79. I flew as a pilot with AA for 30 years and was proud of the LACK of our paint jobs and our Eagle and American Flag shown on our airplanes. Evidently the new composite airplanes have to be painted and I understand that. The clean Aluminum look of the past is gone forever BUT why this change to the tail and the leaving off of our proud Eagle? I like the font of the “American” name on the plane but the rest was dreamt up by some firm hired at great cost I would imagine. The founder of AA, Mr. C.R.Smith was the originator of the clean Aluminum look and he is probably rolling over in his grave!

  80. mad dog says:

    That tail is Escher-like in a kind of Escher-like way if you ask me. It represents infinity on a two-dimensional plane.
    The trouble is, planes in the real world are three-dimensional.

    Idiocracy lives on at AA corporate headquarters!

  81. Paul says:

    Hi Guys,
    I read these posts b/c a pilot friend of mine links them to her fb page. It seems like the strongest opinions on the new look come from airline employees – am I mistaken about that? I don’t work for an airline, I’m just a frequent flyer. I have to say that I don’t think most of us consider what the outside of the aircraft looks like; it’s a very small issue compared to poor service, having our luggage damaged, cramped quarters and feeling like some airlines are “nickel and diming” us. I promise you that if you had the world’s ugliest aircraft with great service, I would fly that airline instead of one with the most beautiful planes and the current levels of service that I regularly see.

    That being said, I do agree with people who said that change for changes sake is usually a bad decision. I also think the posters who said this was a strategy to come one step closer to a joint AA/USAir logo are probably correct and as such I don’t think the average flyer or average employee were the target audience. This whole project, IMHO, speaks volumes about the way business is currently run: One group of knuckleheads running company “A” trying to impress a second group of similar knuckleheads running company “B” without any thought given to their employees or their customers.

    • Paul says:

      I think the design of the plane matters to more people than anyone thinks. Moreover, it matters to employees who in greater proportions dislike American’s new design. It is the employees that provide the service. If it matters to them, then it matters to customers.

  82. MikeD says:

    Have you ever sat in on one of those logo brainstorming meetings? I have and I must tell you that ad agencies can justify almost any look….and here is living proof. I fly American often. My carrier choice isn’t about how the planes are painted, but about the service. They are very price competitive on the routes I fly. Service has usually been on time. What more can you ask? I have just recently noted that gate agents have been openly complaining about how the company treats them. THAT is bad form and indicative of much deeper problems with American than a lame logo on the planes.

  83. wrf1984 says:

    How very strange this new livery is. “Vending machine:” very good.

  84. Tom Hill says:

    Yet another reason not to fly American. As if I needed one. I’d rather be seen getting out of a Yugo than out of this airplane.

  85. Andre says:

    I didn’t think it is THAT bad… Certainly not as awful as AA’s service.

  86. Lee Miller says:

    The worst aspect of this new design was not mentioned in the article . That is, the tail logo grotesquely distorts not only the shape of the tail, but ultimately the entire aircraft. Aircraft are almost always beautiful in the way the nose starts the shape, the wings stretch the form outward, and the tail punctuates the whole sculpture. The form is usually beautiful in itself and is by definition aerodynamic. But this new American Airlines graphic perverts the form visually, by painting a giant and non-aerodynamic extra large tail on the whole thing making it look entirely silly and obviously wrong at the same time, How could such a large historic firm plant such a goofy butt on an normally beautiful form? It’s a horror, I tell you.

  87. Daniel says:

    The tail art makes me sad. It’s like they’ve been doing their best to try and break the lines and shapes of the plane, instead of working WITH them. Like they want us to forget it’s actually a jet plane under there.

    I mean, I think I know where they’re coming from (“Everybody can paint a flag on the tail, let’s do something different and break the physical dimensions!”), but was that really a good idea? Different for the sake of being different?

    The result lacks any elegance.

  88. Tulmarin says:

    You guys are all way too harsh! I really like it, it feels fresh and clean and distinctive in an unobnoxious way. I think it will wear well, and give that old dog a bit of a spark. Until they merge and hideously combine their new logo with that of USAir, a la United/Continental, that is….

  89. QVRQ says:

    Saw the photo. Laughed out loud, disturbing everyone around me.

    Probably not the reaction the marketing dept was hoping for.

  90. Simon says:

    At first I figured, oh heck they’ll eventually revert to the old livery just like public opinion forced JAL to re-introduce the Tsurumaru.

    But then I read that AA had to get rid of its shiny bare metal looks because of 787 orders. Can anybody shed some light on that? Is it true that b/c of the 787’s composite structure, the bare aluminum look had to go?

  91. Chris Stubbs says:

    I can only assume that someone at American has been watching too many episodes of ‘Pinp My Ride’. Calling that tail design ugly doesn’t even start to do it justice. The fuselage logo I actually think is okay, but you’d think airlines would have learnt from BA’s world art experiment a few years ago what not to do with tailfins.

    • Linda Gallamore-Phillips says:

      Guess that why the air sickness bags would come in handy now…if I had to look at that tail design, I’d use them. Glad I don’t have to see many of them coming in to PDX!

  92. Elizabeth Matheson says:

    Before they paint too many planes, someone needs to S T O P them!! They had a classic look — this looks like they turned a bunch of kindergarten children loose with crayolas to paint the planes. Yuck! Ickie Poo!! Pa-tooey!

  93. Joe Payne says:

    I understand the need for contrast between the body and tail in order to generate some kind of visual dynamic and I applaud AA’s attempt to move it’s livery into a new era but to me, after 9/11, do you really want to confirm the stereotype of “loud, we’re #1” America?

    • Paul says:

      The tail should not “contrast” the rest of the plane, but flow into its body creating a cohesive visage. The new American tail, looks as if the United States world police threw up on it. Moreover, it already looks more dated than the classic old logo.

  94. Pandabonium says:

    This reminds me of the logo of the United States Bowling Congress. combined with the Postal Service (no disrespect to bowlers or postal workers intended).

    It is a tragic end to the great evolution of this company’s livery which spans the length of commercial aviation in America.

    Hopefully, they will wake up and return to their roots.

  95. TomSFO says:

    Actually, while I don’t think the new logo is appealing, I consider it more of a “lateral move” than a downgrade in logo elegance. The real ruination occurred when AA moved from the old orange “lightning stripe” logo with a more elegant AA & eagle on the tail. The now-lamented outgoing logo always has always said “low expectations early-’70s era economizing” to me. Interestingly, the eagle-peaking-through-the shower-curtain is reminiscent of United’s old “tail spear” from the ’50s-’60s.

  96. John says:

    As a graphic designer I understand where your coming from. I’m definitely in the school of classic modern as you can never beat a Rand design (don’t think he did AA). I especially dislike three demensional logos such as the new beak design. They come off as dated even before they are rolled out and they reek of corporate idealism. I will say AA had it right from the start EXCEPT (and this is big) for the fact they do not do a good job of keeping up their planes, signage and gate stations so instead of a nice clean look you get the impression the airline hasn’t replaced a thing since 1985. A lot of times i’ll look out from the Virgin plane I’m flying on and see a AA plane and I’m horrified at the condition of the livery. Silver skin looks amazing brand new but after a few years at 35,000 feet it looks faded and beat to hell. I actually won’t fly American because everything they own looks like its in such bad shape. Keeping your original logo should be encouraged but only if you keep it looking new otherwise it just looks like you are too cheap to update and cutting corners wherever you can. Lastly the tail isn’t horrible but the rest has to go.

    • Paul says:

      When Virgin planes are as old, or not even as old, as American’s planes they too will look worn and beaten. Fact is the look of the plane has nothing to do with safety. True, the new American log is simply horrid, but it will not detour people from booking a low fare. On the other hand I won’t fly Virgin, or any airline, that spends millions of dollars to demonize unions compelling employees to vote in their worst interest. If I had to prioritize, the national economy beats aesthetics every time.

  97. JuliaZ says:

    Patrick, As I was listening to the NPR announcer basically read an over-plummy American Airlines press release about the new livery, complete with swelling music, I said out loud, “ut-oh, Patrick is NOT going to like this!” (My husband said, “Patrick who?”) Thanks for not disappointing me!

    Not only is the new logo freaking hideous, but correct me if I’m wrong, they are now going to be PAINTING the entire airplane. My understanding — is this an urban legend? — is that keeping the naked aluminum skin that they used to use saved several hundred pounds of weight which translated into real fuel savings over hundreds of take-offs and landings. If so, not only have they destroyed an iconic logo, but they are hurting the environment, too.


  98. John says:

    The new logo reminds me of the old Greyhound logo. And that tail just makes me want to bAArf.

  99. Bruce Adams says:

    Now, Patick, don’t be that way. Not exciting, but the AA logo had so much bad baggage. In ten years, no one will care. The iconic logos will live forever in our memories. Unfortunately, they will never adorn a flying commercial aircraft.

    I tried to buy the Pan Am logo. The original logo and all the legal stuff that goes with it is maybe 200 sheets of paper neatly filed in a lawyer’s office. He wanted $50K for a non-exclusive right to use with restrictions for one year. That was more than I wanted to spend.

  100. Allan Fabrick says:

    They would be better off working on improving their service than fixing what wasn’t broken. I avoid American Airlines because of their poor customer service and terrible on time record. Sad to say they used to be my favorite airline.

  101. Paul De Zan says:

    I’ll bet anyone here $500 that American will revive the classic logo in one form or another within three years.

    This will not stand.

  102. Sandra says:

    UGH!..i do not like

  103. MRW says:

    An absolute disgrace. Golden rule of marketing is to never, ever tinker with successful symbols of your brand in this case their logo. A good indicator that a company is either trying to distance itself from a total cockup or even worse some ‘guru’ being let loose on the corporate identity with no sense of history or ownership of the brand, just for them to move on and let the rank and file to pick up the pieces. Perhaps this is a precursor to their ‘merger’ with USAirways who already sport the stars n stripes on their tail.

    I reckon they’ll revert back to their iconic livery before too long. If they have any smarts about ’em.

    • Ralph Weidemann says:

      Nonsense. There’s no such “Golden rule”. People won’t stop using a product because the logo has changed. People won’t stop drinking Coca-Cola because they’ve changed the logo, they will stop drinking it if they change the taste and don’t like it. It’s up to American Airlines now to backup their new image with a good product.

  104. Marcio Pinheiro says:

    This is sad…with the best of intentions…

  105. avg.citizen says:

    It looks like “American” is shot full of bullet holes, perhaps an unwitting nod to the gun lust of our fine nation.

    See hapless designers/marketeers try to explain it:–rebranding-met-mixed-reviews.html

  106. James says:

    Patrick, you and I have disagreed on the aesthetics of various liveries in the past.

    However, you are 100% spot on this time. Absolutely an embarassment to Americans everywhere.

  107. Rock says:

    I like the tail, silver base, and the script. The tail is my favorite actually… It looks fast, clean, fresh and distinctive. White birds with me-too accents are just worn out. When guys on forums paint their planes I just roll my eyes when they are excited to paint the just like some other guy’s ride.

    You are right about the beak however. The logo tries to be too clever, and ends up too complicated. But to be fair, the old logo is uninspired. They both should be scrapped.

    Why do I get the feeling the bulk of commentors are crotchety 55+ grey bushes? Can we get a little demographic insight? 😀

    • Ian Bell says:

      For “demographic insight”, let me say that I’m 31

      I actually kind of like the new tail. I’ll miss the unpainted silver look, it was the one thing that made American planes distinctive, but it’s not that big a deal, I guess.

      The logo, however is a real pity. One of the nice things about the “old” logo is that it worked well in any medium. In colour or monochrome, screen or print, even stamped into the bottom of plastic drinking cups, it was consistent and distinctive. I doubt the new logo will be as versatile.

      I’m a BA frequent flyer, but I often used to choose an American codeshare for transatlantic. The aesthetic and feel of the airline was actually a fairly big part of that (not the service, I mean, $7 for a drink that would be free on BA? Really?). Now that American are just another airline with a white plane, flag detail on the tail, and a boring modern logo, I don’t know if I’ll bother.

  108. Chief Pilot says:

    It’s a hang nail. An effing damned hAAng nail.

    What a shame.

  109. Dave English says:

    Wow. Beaten with the ugly stick. Looks like something an eight-year-old with an iPad would come up with.

    Were they copying the Captain America look once sported by Colgan Air on, I think, Saab 340s ?

    — Dave

  110. Gary says:

    AAbsolutely hideous. This makes United’s ditching of the iconic tulip for the meaningless Continental wiffle ball seem like a minor transgression. That tail is probably the tackiest livery I’ve ever seen. Ugly American indeed.

  111. Dave, says:

    As someone who has worked in branding, I can only imagine this was a product of some large committee. I have seen senior executives sign off on logos, only to have the board summon designers to make “tweaks” during a board meeting. That said, this is sad. The old logo was truly a classic piece of design and often used in case studies as a timeless design, not just in aviation but in any industry.

  112. I thought the old-school Continental livery that they brought back for one commemorative plane a few years back just before the merger with United looked absolutely outstanding.

    • callsign says:

      There were other options that were even better than what they picked, IIRC it was put up to an employee vote. There is lots of great history out there in livery.

  113. Tim says:

    As I said elsewhere, the tail makes me think I’m looking at the theme plane for “Team America: World Police”

  114. Marc says:

    I sorta like it. IMO, the tail needs to be toned down somewhat, but the rest of the body looks fine. I don’t mind the new logo either, it will take some getting used to, but the design suggests motion which is hardly ever a bad thing in my book.

  115. Park Citio says:

    It pains you to write about it. Think how it pains us to read you. AA’s design is not about you. Design is not about what you like. You’re using this as an excuse to rehash your war stories. You’re sick!

    • Tim says:

      Except that “Ask the Pilot” is Patrick’s very own private blog, where only people who want to read “Ask the Pilot” come. And, apparently, you. American’s livery is where anyone who wants to fly any airline in the US has to look at it. Furthermore, I don’t have to spend 10-15 minutes reading a blog post to be irritated by American’s new horror, I need to take a glance out a terminal window.

    • Ian Bell says:

      Design is absolutely about what Patrick likes, and about what I like, and about what you like.

      If it’s not about what the public likes, what’s the point in branding at all? If people don’t like it, it’s not going to encourage them to book an American flight (it might not make them less likely, but if it makes no difference at all, it’s equally pointless)

    • Patrick says:

      My war stories? I’m sick? And “design is not about what you like?”

      I beg to differ.

  116. callsign says:


    As soon as I heard of its release, I looked at it, and came immediately here knowing there would be a classic PS post on the subject. Patrick, you did not disappoint, but for the first time in many years, I am going to strongly disagree with you. Key word is strongly.

    I like it.

    I think it’s great. It’s a departure, but it’s bold. It’s a brave gutsy move. New beginnings and a new story.

    I am thinking that they are not looking at what is classic now, but what will be timeless (at least in airline terms) and this logo will last another 30 years without major revamp. This is a major claim for me to throw down, but I will do it. Is it retro 60’s timeless? No. But what will we say several decades down the pipe? I say, it will be timeless then. Bring it, on, naysayers!

    Look at DL’s new livery. I was aghast when it came out, you were lukewarm (and recommended the red cheat stripe), but now several years later, I see DL blowing around the corner and it has more ramp presence now than it did when it was unveiled. It stands out, it too is bold and loud and proud. The UA Tulip is gone to the generic CO globe, USAir is still hopelessly clinging to some bizarre dystopian industrial soviet interpretation of the American flag, and Alaska has Uncle Bernie foolishly attempting to court Hawaiian’s lusty beauty. Dude, you’re from Alaska and probably suck at surfing.

    I like American’s new livery. It’s going to look smart, it’s daring, and it speaks. (Also it will work well with an US/AA merger, but that’s another post).


    • Ian Bell says:

      I don’t know if the new logo will become a classic, but I think it’s unlikely. Not because I think it’s not classic-worthy, but just because I don’t think it will last 30 years.

      Once a company starts with rebrands, they don’t seem to stop. If you saw how many times British Gas have changed their logo since the mid-1990s, you’d know what I mean – and that’s a stylised gas flame, how many different ways do you need to draw that??

      And yeah, you’re probably right about the US Air thing lol.

    • Mark36 says:

      I agree. I like it in the end. I must admit, I’ve been waiting for the release of the new design for months. So when I first saw it – it didn’t grab me at first. But I have to say that after looking at a few of the videos and a day or two later, I like it more and more. It is fresh. It is very much American with all the patriotism and glory and fan-fare. Nothing wrong with that. It certainly looks better than that awful design on Aeroflot and British Airways. I think it will be a winner. And contrary to what a lot of people think – I think it will grow on people as time goes by.

  117. JW says:

    I agree, in the past it was great to see that AA tail at an overseas airport always gave me a warm feeling like seeing an old friend.
    This new one is very disappointing – not distinctive enough – could be any airline.
    My next nightmare is Doug Parker with his “three ring circus” running AA.

  118. Brian Fay says:

    I cannot believe how ugly this is. Patrick, I agree with you complely.

  119. Colin says:

    Patrick, you are getting predictable… As soon as I saw the new livery in the cheesy video American emailed me, I could have ghost written this post for you practically word for word. (Well, except for the “eagle’s beak poking through a shower curtain” part, very funny.)

    Personally, I think the logo is awful, but without the use of gradients and shadows it would perhaps be salvageable. Imagine the “beak” outlined with a thin black line separating solid red and blue shapes – not too bad, though maybe reminiscent of the USPS. I wouldn’t be surprised if some poor logo designer presented something like that only to be told to make it more “modern” or “shiny”, leading to the Web 2.0-esque disaster here.

    The livery, though, looks pretty cool in my opinion, especially the large “American” text. It will certainly be recognizable.

    • J from LA says:

      How could you *not* predict what Patrick would say? The redesign is atrocious. What else can he say about it?

      Should he have praised it just for the sake of surprising his readers?

  120. REO says:

    Apparently they will go back to it in the future as featured in the Bruce Dern science fiction pic, Silent Running…

  121. Bruce says:

    Barf bag? How about barf trash-can.
    No respect for the brand. Just horrendous taste.
    If it’s another attempt to cheapen any enjoyment left in air travel, it’s a great success.

  122. Andrew says:

    @Ned- I think they’ll keep that neon sign, as the logo it depicts is a classic/retired logo itself.

  123. JS says:

    Holy shit that’s ugly! “[A]n eagle’s beak poking through a shower curtain” is brilliant.

    (I’m not much of a commenter, but love reading your stuff. Thanks!)

  124. Olivier says:

    Most executives at most companies are a waste of carbon and an insult to mankind anyway. To be fair, it’s part of a more general degeneracy. Once upon a time people had taste and sense; nowadays… It’s visible in the large and in the small: just compare buildings of a century ago with those of today.

  125. Ned says:

    I heard a glowing review (“the new livery takes what was good about the old and builds upon it…”) on NPR while driving today. When I had a moment I looked it up, and: Barf-O-Rama. Really sad.

    This neon sign used to adorn one of American’s old hangers at Logan Airport in Boston. Arriving at the airport as a kid at night, it was a thrilling sight. AA kept it; it hangs in a terminal there. One wonders what will become of it now.

    • Paul says:

      The neon sign’s probably safe, Ned. Here in California, the old “Fly DC Jets” neon sign still glows on top of the old Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, even though there’s no more Douglas or DC jets, and the descendants of Douglas have bastardized the old logo (but I guess they should get brownie points for having kept something that recalls the logo, instead of substituting it with a GMST).

  126. James says:

    Well, they’ll all be repainted in US Air’s livery in the next year, anyway.

    • freqflyer says:

      #15 James – no they won’t be in USAir livery. The merged company will be named and branded as American Airlines

      To all bad-mouthing the artists. I don’t know how AA did it but I have witnessed how several other airlines decide their livery, be old, modified, or all-new. The artists work under the direction of a high-level airline team. I have seen literally dozens of iterations until a final design that is approved by the airline president. Years of design experience subject to the taste [or lack thereof] of one person, the one who signs the check that pays the design team’s fee.

      So blame it on AA/USAir’s honcho’s, not their designers.

  127. Chris says:

    If a mouth breathing, moose hunting tea bagger was flying to his militia training camp in a 757, this is the color scheme I would imagine it would have.

  128. jml says:

    Garish and embarrassing and almost beyond belief. What was wrong with the classic and timeless clean silver planes with just the touch or red and blue? The good news is, when you are riding inside of one, you won’t be able to see it.

  129. Ike says:

    A pilot commenting and criticizing the work of an enormous design team. I bet you LOVE when others who have no idea how to fly an aircraft criticize how you fly, right?

    • BL says:

      Nice try.

      Flying a commercial jet requires thousands of hours of training, the mastery of extremely complex equipment, and an understanding of laws of physics that most people have never heard of let alone contemplated. Designing a logo only requires a leaky fountain pen.

      The test of the validity of any criticism is “can you do better?” In this case, the criticism is valid because it’s more than obvious that even an elephant with a paintbrush in his nose could do better than this.

      • Tim says:

        That’s because a random pattern of red, white, and blue splotches would look better than this.

      • Ian Bell says:

        Another nice try 😉

        The validity of a person’s opinion on a piece of art or aesthetic design doesn’t vary based on the ability of that person to “do a better job”.

        I can’t paint better than Van Gogh, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion on whether Sunflowers is better than The Starry Night. I can’t play cello better than Yo-Yo Ma, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion on his performance. I can’t design buildings better than Frank Lloyd Wright, but that doesn’t mean I can’t prefer The Guggenheim and Fallingwater to Price Tower.

        It’s an old rule of rhetoric that the competence of the speaker has no bearing on the truth of what he says. The biggest fool in the world can say the sky is blue, but that doesn’t mean it’s raining.

        And when we come to airline liveries (and any corporate branding) the judge *is* the public. It doesn’t matter how good the design group is, if the public hates the logo and livery, the design is a failure.

        • Kiki says:

          Well said!

        • Corey B says:

          Um.. the public hates EVERY logo change. Have you noticed?

          As a graphic designer, I feel compelled to defend my profession here at least, if not this logo (I agree, it is bland and a bad decision).
          Hate the art if you must, but don’t slam a whole industry of hard-working people who create many things, not just corporate logos. Sure, we don’t fly people around or wear uniforms, but we are humans who have jobs and feelings. Instead, try to blame, if possible, the corporate process instead, which always results in a mealymouthed inoffensive piece of trash no matter what the designer/s intended.

          And I say this as a fan of flying, and an avid fan of airplanes/Patrick Smith, so … let’s all smoke the peace pipe a bit, OK?

          (But no less than 24 hours before your pilot shift, of course.) 🙂

          (And I know this is the Web after all, so I fully expect to be flamed and shamed)

          • Patrick says:

            If I really sound that hostile, I apologize.

            I do think that the trend in logos and liveries has been abysmal — across a wide range of industries, not just aviation — but I understand this is just one facet of design, and I don’t mean to diminish the talent and hard work of designers overall. And that’s a good point about the corporate process. I imagine that the end result of many corporate identity overhauls is effectively “livery by committee,” and probably a watered-down version of what the designers really intended.

      • Pete says:

        This is the most absurd comment ever

    • mrak says:

      AA’s new look can, will and should be discussed and critiqued at length by the design community.

      But that doesn’t mean it’s off limits to the rest of the world.

      Quite the contrary – if this logo isn’t embraced by the public at large, it’s a failure. And AA will end up scrambling to replace or revert.

      It happened to JAL, as Patrick noticed here, and it happened quite famously (here in the U.S.) with Gap.

    • Patrick says:

      So am I simply “unqualified” to comment? Does that go for everybody who is not part of a design team, or just pilots? And presumably these design team folks are, by definition, the only legitimate arbiters of taste, and would never be so incompetent as to come up with a crappy corporate identity? And I guess I am similarly in no position to judge, say a work of art, book… anything that does not fall within my direct circle of expertise?

      I’ll remind you that while airplanes are not designed to be flown by airline branding consultants — and you’re right, I would NOT want (or expect) such a person to critique my flying (unless he or she happened to know a little something about flying planes) — the brand identities these teams come up with ARE, VERY MUCH SO, EXPECTED TO BE judged to and accepted/rejected by the public.

      • L K Sherman says:

        I don’t know how to fly a plane, but I can tell the difference between a landing and a crash.

        This was a crash.

      • RS says:

        Patrick, you don’t even have to dignify this with a response. I am glad you used your platform to take the clowns who designed this monstrosity to task. My definition of a great logo is that it should be capable of being rendered beautifully in a 1″ x 1″ form and it should look great in black on white or reverse, white on black. This logo so clearly meets none of that criteria. This looks like a downmarket credit union’s branding.

        Also what about the “AAdvantage” miles program which took “advantage” of the AA scheme? That was quite a cool if weird name. Anyway, this proves one thing – anything that US Air touches turns to crap. They are literally the worst of the worst. This makes frontier’s Go-Diego-Go animal menagerie look positively Saarinen cool by comparison.

        The thing that I think this whole rebranding speaks to is that it convinces me that the airlines are truly populated with horrible managers. There is nothing left of the glory days of flying. Everyone who runs airlines today, except maybe Southwest, are giant just bland, soulless corporate middle managers. So why would expect them to have any design sense anyway. Hence the United powerpoint logo from Continental. But even that looks amazing compared to this – which I initially thought was a photoshop joke.

    • Ralph Weidemann says:

      Well said !

    • Paul says:

      Ike, “A pilot commenting and criticizing the work of an enormous design team. I bet you LOVE when others who have no idea how to fly an aircraft criticize how you fly, right?” WRONG! If the “enormous design team” flew planes as well as they designed airline logs, then they would crash and burn. Indeed, they do not know what they are doing, but this pilot does. Shame on you Ike.

  130. George Brims says:

    The tail “art” must have been designed by the people who failed to get the contract for the BA one. At least the BA logo has some fluidity so you know it’s meant to represent the flag.

  131. Mark says:

    I’m a retired SWA pilot, so I know a lot about ugly logo’s and paint schemes. This logo blows! AA had a winner. Change for changes sake?

  132. Simon says:

    Oh. My. God.

    No seriously, WTF???

    What kind of committee comes up with something like that? And what kind of CEO then gives them the thumbs up?

    In the words of Walter Sobchak, “has the whole world gone crazy?” 😉

  133. Mason says:

    Hate it hate it hate it.

    I couldn’t even tell what the logo was.

    OMG: You and me both.

  134. David Moles says:

    It’s not an eagle poking through a shower curtain, it’s an albino killer whale bleeding from the right ribs.

  135. Matt Rogish says:

    This is just… terrible.

    I keep saying this but it’s as if they saw “Team America: World Police” and said – we want a livery that screams “America: F*ck Yeah!”.

    I didn’t *love* the old look, but it was definitely not bad. This is depressing.

  136. Tod says:

    I’ll admit that I didn’t like the silver of American but this is horrid. The tail inparticular defies explanation

  137. OMG says:

    HIDEOUS. Well, as a United flyer it solves my problem of being jealous of the classic AA look every time I looked at United’s powerpoint logo (as I believe Patrick once called Continental’s tail).

  138. flymike says:

    ” . . . eagle’s beak poking thru a shower curtain . . . ”

    That made me blow coffee thru my nose. Thanks a lot!

  139. Sophia says:

    Oh this is AWFUL.

  140. Jason says:

    Just saw a picture of this and came to find out if you’d posted. I completely agree. However, I loved the old look. Maybe change up the text a little if you want an update, but this, this is a marketing bomb. I just want to pretend like the tail is not there altogether.