(Video) Exclusive First Look at The New American Airlines Livery

Jan 23, 2013

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The big airline news last week was that American Airlines finally unveiled the new livery design that it would first be rolling out on its huge order of new aircraft starting with its flagship 777-300ER’s (set to fly January 31) and 737-800’s and then rolled out on the rest of the fleet over the next 3-5 years.

This morning, I was invited to take a tour of one of the airline’s new generation 737-800’s that’s been given the new look at Miami International Airport and actually got down on the tarmac to get the full 360-degree view of the  aircraft:

Although, like many people, I was skeptical about the new livery at first, I have to admit it looked better in person than in the promotional materials. I like the old silver look, too, but it really didn’t wear very well – when you walked up to a plane that had been in service for a few years, it looked like it had been through a garbage disposal.

A panorama shot of the new livery on the 737-800.
A panorama shot of the new livery on the 737-800.

In person, the new color is actually nice and bright with gray speckles adding a little extra luster – it looks fresh and new. The main thing that seems to ruffle people’s tail feathers (no pun intended) is the tail design.

People seem to take the most issue with the tail
People seem to take the most issue with the tail’s new look.

It’s probably not what I would have selected (it still looks like a popsicle to me) but when you compare it to the dowdy look of the airline’s US competitors, it’s a breath of fresh air, and I suspect people will come around to the new, flashier look. It’s also less color-blocky than the pictures look and there are gradations that smooth out the look.

Looking down at the plane on the tarmac.
Looking down at the plane on the tarmac.

I also got a chance to poke around under the plane and check out some of the next-generation aircraft’s mechanical workings.

In the belly of the beast - some of the 737-800
In the belly of the beast – some of the 737-800’s mechanical insides.

And then it was time for a quick tour of the inside of the plane where I saw the new version of Main Cabin Extra seating that has more legroom in coach.

Main Cabin Select seating on the new plane.
Main Cabin Extra seating on the new plane.

Beyond visual impact of the new look, the airline has gone through a lot lately with bankruptcy proceedings, contentious negotiations with its unions and serious talk of a possible merger with US Airways. This new look has a psychological element to it, though, that seems meant to be the physical sign of a turnaround.

My "boarding pass" to the special viewing.
My “boarding pass” to the special viewing.

Even the airline employees working the event seemed excited and happy about the unveiling, though, and there was a palpable sense that they feel like they’re past the worst of the bankruptcy and headed back in the right direction. It’s interesting that American chose to proceed with this whole rebranding launch when there are still so many uknowns including the very real possibility of an imminent merger with US Airways that could change a lot about both airlines and that we won’t know the outcome of for sure for weeks or even months to come.

We’ll be seeing fewer silver birds on the runway from now on.

Despite that uncertainty, though, I thought this was a pretty exciting development and found the new look to be much better in person than I had feared. However, I’m most excited next to step inside one of American’s new 777-300ER’s to see the new classes of service once the plane starts flying at the end of the month, so stay tuned for that!

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Compared to its competitors
Compared to its competitors’ paint jobs, the AA planes look fresh and exciting.

You still might not like American Airlines’ new look, but let’s remember what the other main US airlines are rocking- nothing too snazzy in my opinion – so I give AA props for a little creativity and flair. What do you think?

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