American Airlines has several aircraft painted in special liveries. Airlines tend to paint aircraft in special liveries for various reasons, as will be evidenced by the wide array of American’s special livery fleet. These special planes are a delight for avgeeks and planespotters alike, ranging from both narrowbody to widebody aircraft. Here is a look at some of American’s special liveries.
For reference, here is the current American Airlines livery:
The alliance planes
American Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance. As a founding member and the largest airline in the alliance, it is a proud member and displays it through a special oneworld themed livery. This livery can be found on several aircraft, ranging from narrowbody Boeing 737 jets to widebody Boeing 777s.
Airlines do commonly paint their aircraft in alliance-themed liveries, and oneworld carriers around the world fly aircraft in the special oneworld hybrid livery. This helps promote the airline’s ties to the alliance and publicizes the global connections that are possible through alliance members. These alliance planes are not similar to the Northwest/KLM DC-10, which highlighted the specific alliance between the two airlines.
Soon, however, American will not be the only US airline flying oneworld-themed aircraft. After Alaska Airlines joins the alliance in just a few days, Alaska will likely end up with some aircraft in a oneworld livery.
The retro planes
American Airlines has had a long history, and the carrier decided one way to celebrate its long history was by painting aircraft in retro, commemorative liveries. These liveries celebrate some past American Airlines liveries as well as airlines that American has acquired or merged with to create the modern-day giant that the world knows today.
One such livery is the AstroJet Retro livery. This can be found on N905NN, which is a Boeing 737-800. This livery harkens back to the early days of American Airlines, back when the carrier was against painting its aircraft exteriors and instead letting the aircraft’s natural silver hue through.
This livery is a little different than the old American Airlines livery pre-US Airways merger. While it also sported a polished metal finish, that livery had a little different design that was a smidge more modern than the AstroJet livery, which brings back memories of the start of the jet age.
Next up is N915NN. This Boeing 737-800 is painted in the “TWA Heritage” livery. TWA was once a major American carrier. After flying for over 70 years, the airline was bought out by American Airlines in early 2001.
Continuing the heritage series is N916NN. This aircraft sports some green and is in the “Reno Air Heritage” livery. This aircraft recalls Nevada-based Reno Air, which was a West Coast carrier before American Airlines acquired the airline in 1999.
Another Boeing 737-800 is a more recent retro American Airlines heritage aircraft. This one sports the pre-US Airways merger livery. A bare metal aircraft, N921NN, recalls the American Airlines livery people recognized for many years.
Another Boeing 737-800 is an eye-catching plane registered as N917NN. This aircraft is painted in an “AirCal Heritage” livery. AirCal was a California-based airline that merged into American Airlines in the 1980s.
Sharing some retro livery on this #TBT! An @AmericanAir 737 was spotted on the airfield painted in AirCal’s original colors in an ode to when the Newport Beach-based airliner operated at John Wayne Airport from 1967 to 1986 and later merged with American Airlines. #FlyJWA pic.twitter.com/wZBzwJuPm9
— John Wayne Airport (@JohnWayneAir) February 11, 2021
Moving to an Airbus aircraft, American Airlines has an Airbus A321 in a special livery. Painted in the “US Airways Heritage” livery, the A321 recalls the most recent merger that helped make American Airlines the largest airline in the world and brought the carrier’s current CEO to the airline. N578UW sports this livery.
Another Airbus jet that is painted in a retro livery is N742PS, which is an Airbus A319. This aircraft is one colorful jet that is painted in the “PSA Heritage livery.” PSA, which stands for Pacific Southwest Airlines, was a former California-based airline, but it was not directly acquired by American Airlines.
— americanair (@AmericanAir) September 24, 2014
Piedmont was merged into USAir in the 1980s, which later became US Airways in the late 1990s. US Airways was bought by America West, with the US Airways name surviving. Then, that US Airways merged with American Airlines.
Along the same lines, another A319, registered as N744P, is an Airbus A319 that is painted in the “Piedmont Heritage” livery.
Next up is N745VJ. This Airbus A319 is painted in the “Allegheny Heritage” livery. Reminiscent of Allegheny Airlines, the carrier was a precursor to USAir, which later became US Airways, and then American Airlines.
Harkening back to the America West days, American has painted N838AW in the “America West Heritage” livery.
Stand Up To Cancer
In 2019, American Airlines painted an aircraft in a special livery. The Stand Up To Cancer Airbus A321 features 22,627 names painted on the side of the aircraft. These names are those of cancer survivors as well as those lost to the illness.
American solicited $25 donations to put the name of someone who suffered from cancer on the plane. All in all, the endeavor raised more than $825,000 for cancer research.
In another set of aircraft special liveries, American Airlines has some jets that are in special commemorative liveries. One aircraft, a Boeing 777, celebrates a maintenance technician for American, Azriel “Al” Blackman. Based at New York-JFK, this man has devoted 75 years of his life to working on aircraft.
Though not a full-on special livery, this aircraft has a little paint job at the jet’s front, celebrating his service with the airline. American added this to the aircraft in 2017.
— americanair (@AmericanAir) July 18, 2017
Another aircraft with a special sticker is N934AA. An Airbus A321, this aircraft has a small decal marking the plane as the “7500th Airbus A320 Family Aircraft.” American is the largest Airbus A320-family operator in the world, so it is fitting for the airline to fly a jet with this sticker.
Will there be more liveries?
American Airlines has not detailed plans for additional liveries. The airline has plenty of aircraft if it chooses to paint aircraft in a special livery. However, American needs a good reason to go out and paint an aircraft in a special livery.
This is not to say that American will not ever paint another aircraft in a special livery again. Almost undoubtedly, the airline is expected to do something special with an aircraft in the future. This could include highlighting additional partnerships with organizations like Stand Up To Cancer.
Which of these special liveries is your favorite? What special liveries would you want to see American Airlines add in the future? Let us know in the comments!