American Airlines: A New Beginning

Rendition of the new livery scheme of American Airlines.

Rear view of aircraft sporting the new livery scheme of American Airlines.

FlyerTalk members comment and opine pertaining to the new logo, logotype, livery and branding scheme revealed by American Airlines earlier today — and the reaction has been vociferous but mixed.
Here are the results of a poll — which closes on February 17, 2013, if you want to vote — as voted by FlyerTalk members pertaining to the new identity branding and package, including the new color scheme and logo:
I love it! Innovative, striking! 68 19.54%
It’s OK – I’m warming up to this new look. 101 29.02%
I’m not feeling much one way or another – it may take time. 32 9.20%
I think AA could have done better. 81 23.28%
I really hate this look – what were they thinking? 66 18.97%

After months of speculation about the new livery — since October 16, 2012, to be exact — a number of FlyerTalk members seem to like the new logo and branding once they were revealed today, but believe that the tail of the aircraft looks “hideous.” The tail reminds some FlyerTalk members of Air France, while FlyerTalk member MileageAddict believes that the logo looks similar to a retro logo of United Airlines.
A number of other FlyerTalk members have compared the new look to that of Colgan Air and Aeroflot — and even to bus operator Greyhound. The design of the tail reminds FlyerTalk member JDiver of a lawn chair.
My initial thought when I first saw the new logotype of American Airlines was that it was cleaner and more modern than its former iconic logotype, designed by Massimo Vignelli using the classic Helvetica typeface:
…but although its custom typeface of the new logotype — supposedly known as American Sans — does not resemble Whitney, which is the typeface currently used by Delta Air Lines, they both look like a variation of the typeface known as Frutiger, as shown below where the top is in American Sans, the middle in Frutiger 55 Roman and the bottom in Whitney Medium:

The bolder versions of the Frutiger and Whitney typefaces were bolder than the American Sans typeface, so I went with the lighter versions for comparison purposes.
My point is not so much that the typefaces are similar; rather, I believe they are too bland despite their clean look. To me, the logotype of an airline should evoke movement, not staid and motionless. This is why past logotypes of airlines were usually italicized — but apparently that now is considered a dated look. Mark my words: italicized logotypes will return sometime in the future.
As for the logo itself, it did initially remind me of the current ribbon logo of Air France. The white and grey space in the center of the logo is meant to evoke the stylized head of an eagle — which has long been the “mascot” of American Airlines.
Although it is clearly a representation of the American flag, I do not like the tail design at all. It is too busy, and its placement on the aircraft seems awkward at best — but it is certainly better than the current disaster that is supposed to double as a tail design used on US Airways aircraft, in my opinion. I must admit, however, that of all of the design elements used in the new look of American Airlines, that hideously busy tail will stand out when compared to the tails of other airlines at an airport.
For me, the new look works best on the collateral materials of American Airlines, such as on the AAdvantage membership cards and luggage tags as shown on the left.
Overall, I do like the new look in a way, but it does not stand out to me. I do realize that part of the reason for the new look is due to the fuselage of the new Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft — the first of which is scheduled to be delivered to American Airlines sometime in 2014 — is comprised of composite plastic materials that cannot be polished similarly to the aluminum exterior of other aircraft. However, the polished metal look is an integral part of the current livery of the fleet of aircraft of American Airlines which made it stand out when compared to other airlines — and I will miss that look.
In the meantime, here is the official press release by American Airlines:


Much-Anticipated Logo and Livery Revealed Today as American Prepares to Fly Flagship 777-300ER
FORT WORTH, Texas – It’s a new year and a fresh new look for American Airlines as the company today unveils a new logo and exterior for its planes, including the already delivered Flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft set to fly on Jan. 31.  In addition, American plans to continue taking delivery of new planes this year as part of its historic orders for 550 new aircraft.  The unveiling of the new logo and livery is the latest step forward in American’s ongoing journey toward building a more modern travel experience for its customers.
“Since placing our landmark aircraft order in July of 2011, we’ve been building anticipation toward a moment in time when the outside of our aircraft reflects the progress we’ve made to modernize our airline on the inside,” said Tom Horton, American’s Chairman and CEO. “While we complete the evaluation of whether a merger can build on American’s strengths, we remain steadfast in each step we take to renew our airline, a step we take with great respect for our name American.  Today marks important progress in that journey as we unveil a new and updated look for the first time in more than 40 years.”
American is preparing to take delivery of hundreds of new, lighter aircraft featuring composite materials that must be painted.  Since the polished metal look was no longer an option, the importance of the paint selection became critical to honoring American’s silver bird legacy.  Silver mica paint was chosen as a way to maintain the silver heritage which American’s people and customers are passionate about, yet progress ahead with a clean new look.
“Our new logo and livery are designed to reflect the passion for progress and the soaring spirit, which is uniquely American,” said Virasb Vahidi, American’s Chief Commercial Officer.  “Our core colors — red, white and blue – have been updated to reflect a more vibrant and welcoming spirit. The new tail, with stripes flying proudly, is a bold reflection of American’s origin and name. And our new flight symbol, an updated eagle, incorporates the many icons that people have come to associate with American, including the ‘A’ and the star.”
Since entering the restructuring process, American has made a series of strategic investments designed to place customers at the center of all it does and give employees the tools, training and leading technologies they need to provide customers with a uniquely American experience, while also creating growth and opportunity for its people.
Today’s news is a reminder that while there are still significant decisions that need to be made about the future of the company, American remains focused on continuing the forward movement of the many investments that have been announced in the past year, including:

  • Industry’s Most Modern Fleet: This year, American will take delivery of nearly 60 new aircraft, including the new Boeing 777-300ER which will enter into service on Jan. 31.  In July, American will begin taking delivery of Airbus aircraft made of lighter, more fuel efficient composite materials, which must be painted.  The airline continues investments to offer state-of-the-art inflight Wi-Fi, in-seat entertainment, universal AC power outlets at every seat, and Main Cabin Extra seating on all mainline aircraft. In addition, American has plans to offer fully lie-flat premium class seats on all of the airline’s widebody aircraft and transcontinental fleet.
  • Expanded International Service: American strengthens its network this year with expanded service to more destinations worldwide, including more international and domestic routes from Dallas/Fort Worth, more European and domestic service from Chicago O’Hare, new service to Europe from New York, and new service from Miami to Latin America and the Caribbean.  This year, American also will begin the following international services: Dallas/Fort Worth ─ Seoul, South Korea; Dallas/Fort Worth ─ Lima, Peru; Dallas/Fort Worth – Bogota, Colombia; Chicago O’Hare ─ Dusseldorf, Germany; New York JFK ─ Dublin, Ireland; Miami – Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe; Miami – Fort-de-France, Martinique; Miami – Curitiba, Brazil; and Miami – Porto Alegre, Brazil.
  • Information in an Instant: The airline announced plans to supply flight attendants, pilots, and maintenance workers with their own tablet devices, designed to give them real-time information and better operational insights to do their job more efficiently. Beginning next month, employees will also be equipped with new technologies at the airport designed to make the travel experience easier and more convenient.
  • Top-Notch Onboard Experience: Earlier this month, the airline rolled out new enhancements in premium class cabins on international routes, including elegant new china, more menu choices, and a more personalized service similar to a restaurant. In addition, American will expand the availability of Samsung Galaxy tablets for entertainment use in the premium cabins to more routes later this year.

American Eagle and the AAdvantage® program also will get a new look as of today.  The first American Eagle plane will fly the new livery beginning in February.  Updating the new look across American’s network is a long process and will be rolled out over time to the airline’s airports, interiors and exteriors of aircraft, new uniforms, products and services, and technology platforms like and the American mobile apps.
American’s new look was created with input from our customers and our people, and in partnership with FutureBrand – a leading global brand consultancy.  In addition, American today launches a new advertising campaign designed to showcase the new look.  The advertising campaign was developed with agency partner McCann Worldgroup.

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