When airline marketing departments are allowed to go wild, some very strange things happen. For example, there was a short lived trend at some airlines where different types of aircraft in the fleet were given ridiculous names to help them stand out among the crowd.
Below are a few examples of this strange concept. I’m sure those of a certain age will remember some of these these very well. If you’re seeing these for the first time, you’re welcome!
The good people at Singapore Airlines decided to paint Big Top on their Boeing 747-300s. It had nothing to do with the circus and everything to do with the fact the plane had a stretched upper deck.
Hilariously, they continued the theme when the Boeing 747-400s came on stream. What is larger than a Big Top? Well, that would be a Megatop, don’t you know!
Of course, the theme also continued to their cargo aircraft, as you can see at the head of this article. They of course became the Mega Ark, because… just because!
Ansett Join The Ridiculous Names Camp
Ansett Airlines of Australia also thought this kind of naming convention would be a good idea. They leased Boeing 747-300s from Singapore Airlines and perhaps that inspired them to give the aircraft a special name too. I hereby introduce you to the Spaceship!
I get it, the plane is big and roomy and so we have it. It would not make me go and book a flight on one for that reason alone though. Ansett also came up with this for their Airbus A320 fleet.
There were stars in the airline’s livery at the time, so presumably that is where Skystar came from. All I remember is that the first class cabin decor was inspired by the Orient Express. Yes, really. Australia was a strange country in the moneyed 1980s.
An East African Example
The Vickers VC10 was the main long haul airliner of East African Airways, an airline jointly run by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. At the time it entered service with them, the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet was coming online at competing carriers.
In a neat play on words, the airline dubbed their airliners Jambo Jets. Of course, Jambo means hello in Swahili, so it was all quite nice. Apparently it was very short lived and dropped quite quickly.
It’s a Boeing 737 MAX, Ryanair!
Finally, Ireland’s Ryanair decided that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 was too much for them. Instead, as they have rammed in 197 seats (as you can see here on the seating plan), they decided to call it the Boeing 737-8200.
What kills me though is they insist on calling it a Boeing 737 “Gamechanger” in all their press releases, like this one. Why? More seats, lower fares, more money for the shareholders! It amuses me no end.
Since I was able to remember these ridiculous names quite easily for the article, perhaps the marketing people were successful after all? Sure seems like it to me.
Regardless, I am not really a fan of this kind of thing. It seems a little bit on the nose for me, and is probably why it’s not common at all these days.
Do you remember these names? Are there any other ridiculous names you remember that I don’t know about? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image Eddie Maloney via Wikimedia Commons.
Singapore Airlines Megatop by Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons.
Singapore Airlines Big Top by Peter Bakema on Planepictures.net via Wikimedia Commons.
Information Sheet for the Boeing 747-300 Spaceship via Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences.
Ansett Skystar A320 ad via Ansett Airlines Museum – A Pictorial Journey on Twitter.
Ryanair by Steve Knight on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.