The current American Airlines logo is the work of FutureBrand and was introduced in January 2013 while the airline was getting out of bankruptcy. The new logo design aimed to give the airline’s livery and logo a fresh, new look. Called the “Flight Symbol,” the new symbol incorporates all of the symbols and colors normally associated with the United States and American Airlines.
The FutureBrand Group has made Massimo Vignelli’s classic symbol simpler and created a thin diagonal logo that draws an eagle’s head using the blank space between both the blue and red wings.
Each logo of the airline has featured the eagle symbol since the beginning. Although the present AA logo is a stylized variant of the American Airlines symbol, it’s less subtle. You need to carefully check it out to notice the flying eagle and letter “A” that seemingly emerges automatically.
This emblem is easy on the eye, but it differs significantly from the original emblems that have been featured in all American Airlines logos. In addition, the words “American Airlines” aren’t written in the Helvetica typeface but in a sans-serif font.
While the FutureBrand Group hints that the logo features a soaring eagle, a stylized letter “A,” as well as a star, the star isn’t easy to notice like the first two symbols.
The present AA logo shape resembles a plane’s tail and is ideal for an airline firm. But some people also think that using the bird symbol to represent an airline is a pretty overused cliché.
In addition, people associate the AA logo with the eagle that has always featured on the American Airlines emblem for decades. But the present version could use any bird’s head, not necessarily an eagle’s.
American Airlines Logo History and Evolution
American Airlines introduced a new logo in January 2013, which actually broke the mold of what was hitherto an established brand identity. Without further ado, here’s a quick look at the history and evolution of the American Airlines logo.
In 1934, over 80 small airlines merged together to form American Airways, which was immediately renamed American Airlines. In spite of this, the company retained its old symbol, designed in 1931—a blue circle representing a giant eagle standing on a globe.
On both sides of the raised wings of the bird were letters “A”—the first one is to the left while the second is to the right. A diagonal line was drawn between them in the background. The beam, bezel ring, and both “A” letters were red, which didn’t create a contrast.
The logo’s designer was Goodrich Murphy, one of American Airlines employees. The original idea came from him, but he spotted the image of an eagle on the pamphlet of a Scottish hotel. The color combination used is a clear nod to the United States flag.
All elements except for the eagle and the letters were done away in 1945. At the same time, the logo looked absolutely new as the bird was expanded and placed to the right.
While the drawing style stayed, the same, little details were altered. The color scheme was changed to a white background and blue as the main color.
In 1962, the logo designers reinvented the design, restoring the classic color palette—a combination of blue, red, and white. To achieve this, they again encircled the letters and eagle in a bright red ring-like from 1934 to 1945. Another alteration is the wordmark “AMERICAN,” which appeared below the eagle as a verbal explanation for the abbreviation.
Massimo Vignelli was commissioned to develop new design elements for American Airlines’ visual identity in 1967—the airline’s livery and logo. Just two uppercase letters, “AA,” were depicted on all airlines’ tails until then.
Vignelli also came up with a text symbol for the airline, comprising the joined words “AmericanAirlines. In the lettering, the left half was red while the right half was blue, written in basic Helvetica font, which depicted the company’s professionalism.
In January 2013, design company FutureBrand changed the American Airlines logo beyond recognition, giving it a more modern look. The modern graphic symbol, called the Flight Symbol, has for long been in the public discourse since the U.S. Copyright Office deemed it not original enough to register. It was only in 2018 that American Airlines was able to get the patent for its stylized eagle.
The developers faced another challenge as the airline’s employees and customers rejected the branding. Due to a great deal of controversy, the airline put two logos up for a vote as 2013 drew to a close—the Flight Symbol vs. a variant with a messy old-school design merging old and new symbols. Many people, of course, voted for the Flight Symbol—which was exactly what the airline’s bosses wanted.
American Airlines Logo Design Elements
Symbol: American Airlines’ present logo depicts an eagle’s head—the national emblem of the U.S. One of the wings is blue, while the other is red. The bird now resembles a three-color diagonal stripe featuring a triangular protrusion and looks very much like a plane’s tail.
FutureBrand representatives say that upon closer inspection, you can see a star and the letter “A.” But they aren’t too obvious to notice. Many people feel that the previous logo version was much better, as does Massimo Vignelli.
The eagle symbol depicts freedom and aiming for success.
Font: The name “American Airlines” is to the left of the current symbol. The designers opted for a sans-serif typeface for the lettering, quite similar to the Helvetica font, which was in use between 1967 and 2013.
Color: A distinctive element of the American Airlines logo is its three-color color scheme associated with the American flag (red, blue, and white). Simultaneously, gradients and shadows give visual depth to the Flight Symbol.
The red represents passion, vitality, and energy, while the blue depicts trust, care, and duty. At the same time, the white eagle head represents the national symbol of the United States.
The History of American Airlines
American Airlines (AAL or AA) is a major U.S. airline with head offices in Fort Worth, TX. It’s the largest airline in the world in terms of scheduled passengers carried, revenue passenger mile, and fleet size.
American Airlines, alongside its regional partners, runs an extensive domestic and international network with nearly 6,800 flights daily to almost 350 destinations in over 50 countries. The airline is one of the founders of the world’s third-largest airline alliance, the Oneworld Alliance. Regional service is run by subsidiary and independent carriers under the American Eagle brand name.
American Eagle and American Airlines operate out of ten hubs, with the largest being Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). American Airlines handles over 200 million passengers per year or over 500,000 passengers per day. By 2019, the airline had almost 130,000 employees.
In 1930, a union of over 80 small airlines gave birth to American Airlines. The airline was formed by the merger of two organizations, namely Colonial Air Transport and Robertson Aircraft Corporation.
The latter was first founded in 1921 in Missouri, and both organizations were merged in 1929 to organize and form a holding company known as The Aviation Corporation. In turn, The Aviation Corporation was turned into an operating company in 1930 and renamed American Airways.
When cancellation of mail contracts and new laws forced many airline companies to restructure in 1934, they rescheduled their routes. It turned them into a connected network before rebranding as American Airlines. From 1970 to 2000, the airline grew to become an international carrier and acquired World Airlines a year later.
American Airlines played a key role in the formation of the DC-3—the result of a marathon phone call between the company’s CEO C.R. Smith and the founder of Douglas Aircraft Company, a Mr. Donald Willis Douglas Sr. Smith convinced a reluctant Douglas Sr. to come up with a sleeper plane modeled around the DC-2 in order to replace American Airlines’ biplanes known as Curtiss Condor II.
At the time, the DC-2’s cabin wasn’t wide enough for side-by-side berths. Smith then informed Douglas of American Airlines’ plans to buy 20 aircraft, which persuaded Douglas to start developing the DC-3.
The prototype Douglas Sleeper Transport (DST) started flying on the 17th of December 1935 with a 92″ (2.3m) wide cabin. Also, a 21-seater variant rather than DST’s 14-16-seater aircraft was given the title DC-3.
The DC-3 had no prototype. In fact, the first-ever DC-3 was designed after the creation of seven DSTs, and it was handed over to American Airlines. American Airlines launched passenger service on the 26th of June 1936, with same-time flights from Chicago, Illinois, and Newark, New Jersey.
American Airlines and US Airways Merger
Due to dwindling fortunes in the airline business in 2011, the parent company of American Airlines, AMR Corporation, sought protection from bankruptcy.
In 2013, the airline company and US Airways announced a merger but retained the American Airlines brand name since it was the more recognized brand worldwide. The merger led to the formation of the biggest airline not just in the U.S but also the world over.
Post-Merger Challenges and COVID-19’s Impact
After the 2013 merger between American Airlines and US Airways, American Airlines didn’t perform as well as its rivals, both financially and operationally.
While the unification of the two airlines went more seamlessly than that of many carriers, American Airlines ranked fairly poorly in multiple quality rankings as of 2021 and is now the most indebted major carrier in the U.S., in part due to its investment in stock buybacks.
In the summer of 2019, American Airlines experienced considerable disruption of services due to the 737 MAX being grounded, poor weather, and labor disputes.
In March 2020, maintenance workers agreed on a new union deal, finally bringing together all of the airline’s staff under combined contracts. For several years after the merger, legacy American Airlines and legacy US Airways workers still had individual contracts.
In May 2020, due to decreasing revenues during the Coronavirus pandemic, American Airlines announced that it’d lay off 30% of its administrative and management staff. In October 2020, after Congress didn’t extend the Payroll Support Program, American Airlines furloughed 19,000 workers. The Payroll Support Program was later extended, and the employees got back their jobs.
American Airlines also withdrew more than 100 planes, including its CRJ200, A330, E190, 757, and 767 fleets. Consequently, the airline now boasts the youngest fleet among legacy carriers. The company also suffered an $8.9 billion loss in 2020, its worst ever.
American Airlines was running the world’s largest commercial flat by February 2021, comprising 891 planes from both Airbus and Boeing, with an extra seven on order or planned.
More than 80% of American Airlines’ planes are narrow-bodied, primarily the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A320 series. The airline is the world’s biggest A320 series plane operator and the biggest operator of the A321 and A319 versions. It’s also the world’s second-biggest operator of the Boeing 737-800 and 737 family aircraft.
American Airlines wide-body planes are the Boeing series of airliners. The airline is the world’s third-biggest operator of the 787 series and the six-biggest operator of the 777 series.
American Airlines runs aircraft repair and maintenance bases at Tulsa, Pittsburgh (in which all its Airbus narrow-body planes are repaired and maintained), Dallas-Fort Worth, and Charlotte airports.
American Airlines is one of the most reputable airline companies in the world. With headquarters in Fort Worth, TX, the distinguished airline runs an expansive network of domestic and international flights in conjunction with its regional partners.
It’s renowned for being the world’s largest airline and averages an unbelievable 6,800 flights daily to at least 350 travel destinations in over 50 countries worldwide.
In addition, American Airlines (AAL or AA) is one of the leading founders of the world-famous Oneworld Alliance—the world’s third-largest airline alliance. This alliance plans flight schedules, flight services, and airfares in the transatlantic trade area with partner airlines Finnair, Iberia, and British Airways.
It also does the same in the transpacific trade area, with the help of partner airlines like Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and Japan Airlines.