What is that traveling through the sky? It may look like an ordinary plane but it has way more style and personality.
When you're traveling, you probably don't pay too much attention to the exterior of the plane when you're boarding it. Most of the designs are bland; just painted plain white and have their airline name plastered on it. But these epic aircraft break the mold of traditional ones and give a whole new meaning to the phrase 'travel in style.'
Multiple airlines around the world have let their creative juices start to flow in order to create planes with the most aesthetically pleasing and whimsical designs that you could possibly think of. And we just can't get enough of them.
Whether it's to promote a particular destination's attraction, natural wonder, or just a fun cartoon character everyone adores—these planes take flying to new heights in more ways than one.
From Hello Kitty to Free Willy and the Northern Lights to Star Wars—the opportunities for plane designs are absolutely endless. A cool design on your plane will start your trip off on the right foot and give you even more memories to share about your experience.
These are just some of the most awesome airplane designs we have seen throughout the years. Some are still flying around to this day so if you're lucky enough to catch a flight on one of these designs, you're in for a real treat.
20 Southwest Airlines - Free Willy In The Sky
It's just like Free Willy but instead of a whale in the ocean, it's in the sky instead. Southwest Airlines painted two planes like this in 1998. They're meant to look just like Shamu, the popular orca from Sea World.
Why, you ask? It was an advertisement for Sea World, of course. The unique black and white paint job definitely grabbed people's attention. Southwest ended their partnership with Seaworld in 2014 after they received a lot of backlash for the orcas being held in captivity.
All controversy aside, the plane had one of the coolest designs we've seen.
19 ANA - In A Galaxy Far Far Away
Hop aboard this ANA aircraft of epic proportions. Even if you're not a fan of Star Wars, you have to admit these plane designs are pretty cool. And if you are a fan, this is going to be so much fun for you. The novelty will never wear off during your flight, no matter how long it is.
While you can't catch a ride on the Millennium Falcon; you can ride in this wicked aircraft that resembles some of the shows most popular robots. Say hello to R2D2, C-3PO and BB-8. While you may not see Darth Vader, you can catch a glimpse of these bad boys en-route to none other than the bustling Tokyo.
18 Iceland Air - Bask In The Northern Lights
It's no secret that Iceland is one of the most stunning places you can visit on earth, especially to see the Northern Lights.
Iceland Air picked up on their best attraction and featured it on one of their air crafts. The plane is painted to resemble the vibrant colours of the Northern Lights—making it a beautiful display of colours across the sky (just like the natural wonder themselves). As awesome as it is on the outside, they didn't stop there. The inside is equipped with LED lights to mimic the aurora borealis. Now, that's one magical flight we want to be on.
17 Brussels Airlines - Tintin For The Win
This creative spin on an airplane paint job is pretty awesome. Tintin is one of Belgium's most loved cartoons and is featured on this aircraft.
It's designed to look like a shark submarine from the outside and the inside features more memorabilia including images of Tintin and Captain Haddock. Guests aboard this plane have the unique opportunity of being able to read copies of the books as they fly, as they have multiple issues stocked on board. This aircraft design was brought to life in 2015 and can be seen around Europe until 2019.
16 EVA - It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty lovers rejoice! You have to take a flight on this plane at least once in your life. This aircraft celebrates the infamous cartoon featuring the adorable kitty with a bow on her head. But this isn't the only one. EVA Air has over six planes featuring characters from Hello Kitty and Sanrio. Now, that's commitment.
All of the plane routes fly within Asia, the continent where Hello Kitty is most popular. The colourful characters seem to come to life and just pop right out against the simple white background of the plane.
15 Alaska Airlines - We're Going To Disneyland
After all, it's the happiest place on earth—the attraction obviously deserves its own airplane design. Alaska Airlines has this adorable design featuring Disneyland characters. As you can see, there's Minnie, Mickey, Pluto and Goofy along for the ride.
As if that weren't obvious enough, the plane actually says 'we're going to Disneyland.' The airline has two aircraft featuring beloved Disney characters to celebrate its long-standing relationship with the resort.
14 Astraeus Airlines - Iron Maiden Plane
One thing is for sure—this plane is pure heavy metal, I mean just look at it! It pays homage to the legendary heavy metal group Iron Maiden (obviously). It was created to celebrate the group's Final Frontier tour back in 2011.
Did the group know about it? Yes, they most certainly did. They actually flew in it too. Bruce Dickinson, the lead vocalist is an experienced pilot and actually flew this beast along with the rest of the band. Now that's pretty awesome and makes for one heck of a good story.
13 South African Airways - Olympic Games
This aircraft design is definitely one for the books. Many people still remember it to this day and with its bright design it's quite easy to see why. But it stood for much more than just vibrant colours. The design was used back in 1996 to transport athletes to the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Now that's a plane full of medals!
People would actually look out for this epic plane coloured in yellow, green, white, red, blue and black. It celebrated the country's pride and backed athletes competing in the Olympics which made it even more memorable.
12 British Airways - Panda Power
This one may just be the cutest of the bunch, who could resist a panda bear? British Airways gave their Boeing 777-200 a complete makeover with an absolutely adorable panda face featured on the front. The smiling panda face was created to celebrate the flight launch between Heathrow and Chengdu in China back in 2013.
The area is best known for their rare giant pandas, so it only made sense to paint the plane resembling one of them. The outcome is pretty much too cute for words, if we do say so ourselves.
11 ANA - Pikachu I Choose You
ANA did it again. They brought yet another imaginative aircraft into the sky. They brought Pikachu and Pokemon in general to life with this amazing design. The bright yellow plane couldn't be missed in the sky. This vibrant plane is so cute you'll wish you could go for a ride on it.
These epic aircraft were unveiled back in 1998 to celebrate the release of Pokemon: The First Movie. Lucky passengers who boarded this plane were also given a full-on Pokemania experience complete with souvenir bags and Pokemon-themed food containers, in-flight entertainment and even the flight attendant uniforms had Pokemon on them. It doesn't get much better than that.
10 Western Pacific - The Simpsons
This vibrant airplane features everyone's favourite cartoon family from Springfield. The Simpsons are plastered on this bright yellow aircraft that actually did fly to Springfield. See the whole gang—from Homer and Marge to the trio Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Marge is even on the tail of the plane so there's room for her signature blue hairdo.
The Boeing 737-300 flew back in 1985 and up until Western Pacific Airlines discontinued their operations in 1998. Luckily for us though, The Simpsons TV show still lives on and is loved by many.
9 WestJet - The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway
Let it go, let it go! The ever so popular Frozen movie was brought to life on this Disney World aircraft by WestJet. The Disney-themed plane features Anna, Elsa and of course—Olaf. It was a collaborative effort from the people of WestJet and Disney Artists—the end result is nothing short of amazing.
The art shows Anna and Elsa in the cold and then it gets hotter as it gets closer to the front, where Olaf can be seen lounging on the beach. Anyone who has seen the movie knows that Olaf always dreamed of laying in the sand.
8 Southwest Airlines - Sports Illustrated
Ooh la la. Is this how you know you've made it in life? Back in 2009, supermodel Bar Rafaeli (known also for dating Leonardo DiCaprio) was featured on the side of a South West Airlines plane. She celebrated landing the cover of Sports Illustrated by having the cover image plastered on the aircraft itself. Now, that's one epic way to celebrate!
The plane traveled from New York to Las Vegas with the racy image until the airline eventually painted over it later that year.
7 Lufthansa - Football Nose
Now that's one way to show support for sports! When Germany held the World Cup back in 2006, Lufthansa celebrated by painting a football, or soccer ball as some may call it right on the nose of not one, not two, but 40 planes on their fleet.
While the design is extremely simple, it's a fun way to get into the spirit of the game. There's no better way to get into the competitive spirit by putting it on a plane, that's for sure.
6 British Airways - The Golden Dove
That's one regal looking plane! This aircraft was created to promote the 2012 Olympics in London and is certainly fit for royalty if you ask us.
The airline actually held a contest for people to come up with a design for the plane. While there were many awesome submissions, this one took the cake. It took them just over a month to paint this beautiful dove on the plane. It features detailed feathers and even gold jet engines. To add even more to the theme, their logo was also painted gold for the occasion, when it's typically red and blue.
5 Air New Zealand - The Hobbit
What a unique and memorable way to promote a film! Air New Zealand promoted The Hobbit in the best way possible—by plastering its characters on the side of its aircraft.
Besides seeing all your favourite characters painted right on the exterior of the plane, you can also see them inside the plane. While they weren't actually on board, the airline did make a security video specifically for the occasion using, you guessed it, characters from The Hobbit.
It was not only a great way to promote the film but also gave tourism a boost in the area.
4 Alaska Air - One Big Salmon
This unique paint job featuring a giant salmon across the whole plane was unveiled back in 2005. The aircraft known as Salmon-Thirty-Salmon is a fun play on words because the plane is a Boeing 737 model. It's a clever and creative idea that definitely caught the attention of many.
It was originally created to help promote the state's booming seafood industry. They eventually painted over the design in 2011 and people were not happy about it. Because of the outcry, they ended up painting it back again just a year later in 2012.
3 Kulula - Airplane 101
This airline had a brilliant idea with a little bit of humour sprinkled in the mix. First of all, the vibrant green colour really catches the eye. Then the white writing really pops and grabs your attention.
All of the writing shows different parts of the plane, like where the overhead cabins are, seats, galley, engine, front door and more. The playful design got a lot of people talking which is just what the airline wanted. It's so simple, factual and just plain humorous which is why it was such a hit.
2 HaribAIR - All About The Gummy Bears
Do you love nothing more than snacking on a bag of delicious gummy bears? Well then this just may be the perfect plane for you to be on. Airline TUIfly created a very special edition B737 plane celebrating the one and only Haribo gummy bears for all those with a sweet tooth.
There are actually two planes with the gummy bears on it, a gold one and a blue one. While it's not made out of gummy bears or powered by them—it just may be the sweetest plane you'll ever come across.
1 Air New Zealand - All Black
What better way to celebrate a sporting team than by paying homage with an airplane based on it? Air New Zealand did just that with this epic design.
New Zealand is a big fan of rugby and their team is the All Blacks. Therefore, what else are you supposed to do but paint a plane all black? The Airbus A320 was painted black with a traditional Koru symbol on the back in honour of their sponsorship of the national team. The design is super simple, but also really sleek and sophisticated looking as well. We're not sure any other plane can look as sharp as this one does flying through the sky.
References: list25.com, westjet.ca, travel start