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The 10 Worst Special Airline Liveries of All Time

We think these are just terrible!

Photo: Swiss International Airlines

Airlines love to unveil special liveries to promote everything from tourism to cartoon characters. Unfortunately, some of these um…unique designs are a little hard on the eyes. Check out these 10, that may just be more cringe-worthy than the rest.

10. Swiss’s New CS300

Swiss outfitted its brand-new Bombardier Series CS300 in a special livery intended to celebrate Swiss Romandy (aka, western Switzerland). But really it just leaves us scratching our heads and asking why would you ruin a beautiful brand new CS300 with such a horrible paint scheme? The livery will stick around for a year, but some are already wishing it would go away sooner.

9. ANA Pokemon

Photo: Ken Fielding/

Asian airlines offer some great luxury services, but they do come up with some particularly bad liveries. Take, for example, the All Nippon Airways Pokemon planes. This is one trend they’ve really worn out, with nine different Pokemon jets since 1998.  The livery belongs in a day care, not an international airport.

8. Southwest Shamu Livery

Photo: Southwest Airlines

Southwest’s very first non-tactful livery debuted in 1988, as a giant killer whale, thanks to a partnership with Sea World of Texas. The airline would go on to introduce the Shamu Two and Shamu Three, with eventually five Shamu aircraft. After watching the movie Blackfish, it’s always a little awkward to see this livery. Fortunately, for the animal lovers on the site, the airline severed ties with Sea World and ditched the livery in 2014.

7. Singapore Megatop 747

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This Singapore Airlines Megatop 747 was involved in the first fatal crash for the airline, with 83 deaths after the crew took off on a closed runway during a typhoon. The paint scheme wasn’t very attractive.  Singapore Airlines hasn’t painted an aircraft in a special scheme since.

6. Peter Max Continental 777

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Continental Airlines commissioned artist Peter Max to decorate the “$160 million living canvas.” The result? A bright red, pink and yellow super jet declared the NYC Millennium plane, and a downright crime in color.  The plane proved pretty popular though.  So popular in fact that avgeeks created threads on forums to track where Peter Max was headed and posted photos.

5. EVA Air Hello Kitty Jet

Just like All Nippon Airways, EVA Air has a thing for cartoons. Instead of Pokemon gracing the fuselage, they have Hello Kitty, not only adorning the entire livery, but also the interior as well. There are currently six different Sanrio-themed aircraft in the airline’s fleet. The intro video is torture too.  Gag me!

4. Hainan Airlines Kung-Fu Panda Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Photo: Hainan Airlines

Hainan Airlines isn’t missing out on the cartoon livery party. They just unveiled their third Kung-Fu Panda-themed plane in May. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners are difficult to miss, with bright colors and a chubby bear on each one.

3. Air New Zealand Boeing 777

We all know New Zealand is home to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but that doesn’t mean the country’s airline needs to take the faces of what looks like the entire main cast around the world with them.

2. Austrian Airlines

Photo: Austrian Airlines

Another airline that dabbled in painting portraits of people on their fuselage was Austrian Airlines, but they didn’t stick to a movie cast. Instead, they went for many of the country’s “famous” past and present residents, with a huge Mozart head on the tail.  It’s not the worst paint scheme ever…maybe just the second worst!

1. Southwest Sports Illustrated Livery

Photo: Southwest Airlines

Southwest took some heat for this livery, featuring a scantily-clad Sports Illustrated model on the fuselage of a Boeing 737, as part of a promo deal with the magazine. Passengers complained women wouldn’t appreciate their husbands seeing the imagery, saying the move was “trashy.”  The livery didn’t last long. Don Draper, Southwest’s advertising executive at the time, was removed from the account.

Do you have other terrible liveries that you love to hate?  Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Holly Riddle

Written by Holly Riddle

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