The Best Classic, Vintage, and Retro Airline Logos

The tails of Qantas and Air New Zealand aircraft

ai_yoshi / Getty Images

Aviation aficionados love to obsess over classic airline branding, and how they've evolved throughout the decades to appear in their modern forms. 

Below are 12 of the coolest vintage aviation company logos.

01 of 12

Continental Airlines

The Continental Airlines logo in use until 1991 features a reddish orange circle covered with five curved lines, perhaps representing flightpahts across the sun

Continental Airlines

This is the classic "meatball" logo used by the Houston-based carrier from 1967 to 1991. It was designed by Saul Bass, an iconic graphic designer and Oscar-winning filmmaker. Bass created logos for air travel companies including United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, AT&T, General Foods and the YWCA.

The logo was replaced with the globe logo, designed by New York-based branding and strategy consulting firm Lippincott & Marguiles in February 1991. 

02 of 12

American Airlines

The American Airways logo until 1935 depicts a bald eagle with outstretched wings standing on the globe, with the letters

American Airlines

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier was bought by a businessman in the state in 1934. In that same year, the legendary C.R Smith was tapped to run American Airlines, which rebranded and unveiled this new logo. It was used by the airline until 1945.

03 of 12

Delta Air Lines

Delta's classic widget logo, with a red triangle beneath a dark blue arrow shape, was decommissioned in 1997

 Delta Airlines

The classic "widget" was used by the Atlanta-based carrier from 1962 to 1997. It was first introduced on the carrier's Douglas DC-8 jets in 1962 and became standard across the fleet in September 1968.

The branding was replaced in 1997 by the interim logo, which featured red and blue colors with the word Delta in white. The logo then evolved into a stylized version of the widget.

04 of 12

Japan Airlines

The Japan Airlines logo in use from 1959 and 1989

Japan Airlines

The Tokyo-based carrier used the logo— called Arc of the Sun— between 1959 and 1989. The Tsurumaru logo was drawn by Jerry Huff, creative director for a San Francisco-based advertising agency, to help prepare the carrier for the jet age.

Between 1989 and 2011, the airline used two different logos featuring the initials JAL. In 2011, Japan's flag carrier brought back the original Tsurumaru logo.

Continue to 5 of 12 below.
05 of 12

Hawaiian Airlines

The Hawaiian Airlines logo is rendered in blue, orange, and tan, and features a drawing of an airplane over sailors in a small boat on a Hawaiian shoreline

Hawaiian Airlines

This logo was used by the Honolulu-based carrier from 1940 to 1973. It first appeared on the airline's fleet of Douglas DC-3s. The airline moved over to its iconic Pulani logo, created by Landor Associates, in 1973.

06 of 12

United Airlines

The shield badge shape of the oldschool United Airlines logo features an image of the continental United States

United Airlines

The Chicago-based carrier, founded as Varney Speed Lines, used this logo for only a brief time—1939 to 1940. The airline then switched to a more simplified shield in 1940, and it was used until 1954.

07 of 12

Eastern Air Lines

The Eastern Airlines logo: A straight-winged red eagle, whose flightpath lightens the color of the sky

Eastern Air Lines

This logo was used by the Miami-based carrier from 1936 until 1960, with some variations. The logo was designed by Cardwell Higgins, an artist and illustrator who also worked on movie posters and pulp fiction book covers.

08 of 12

Frontier Airlines

The stylized frontier airlines letter

 Frontier Airlines

This carrier, based at Denver's Stapleton Airport, was formed after three airlines—Arizona Airways, Challenger Airlines, and Monarch Airlines—merged in 1950.

Its logo was created by iconic designer Saul Bass in 1978 and was used until the airline shut down in 1986. He also did logos for Continental Airlines and United Airlines.

A variant of the logo is being used by the current iteration of Frontier Airlines.

Continue to 9 of 12 below.
09 of 12

Pan Am

The classic PanAm logo, a circle, a stylized representation of the earth, covered in curved lines

PanAm

In 1955, the Miami-based carrier hired architect Edward Larrabee as a design consultant. As the airline prepared to bring on the Boeing 707, he and his partner replaced the old globe and wing logo with the iconic blue globe overlaid with curved parabolic lines. They also made royal blue the airline's official color.

The logo was used until the airline's demise on December 4, 1991.

10 of 12

British Overseas Airways Corporation: BOAC

The black checkmark shaped symbol representing British Overseas Airway Corperationj

British Airways

The predecessor airline of British Airways used this logo from 1965 to 1974. It's a version of the iconic Speedbird logo, created in 1932 by art deco artist Theyre Lee-Elliott for Imperial Airways, another predecessor to British Airways.

11 of 12

Aloha Airlines

Five spirals in a star shape, perhaps representing a flower, over the Aloha Airlines sloga,

 Aloha Airlines

The Hawaiian-based carrier, formed in July 1946, used the "flower power" logo from 1979 to 1989. The airline competed fiercely with Hawaiian Airlines but shut down in March 2008.

12 of 12

Braniff Airlines

The logo for the now-defunct Braniff Airlines features a drawing of a propeller plane on diamond in an brownish orange hue

Timetable Images

This is the original logo of the Dallas-based carrier, founded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1928 by brothers Thomas and Paul Braniff.

The logo was used during the airline's first two years of service. The airline shut down abruptly on May 12, 1982.

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