Best and worst airline names

Back to Forum
Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)

  • Hannah Brandler

    Love them or hate them, a crop of new airlines are launching with imaginative new names – from Thailand’s start-up carrier ‘Really Cool Airlines’ to Australia’s ‘Bonza’ brand.

    Which airlines do you think have the best and worst names in the industry?

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    I’m no marketing expert but I think you do have to connect your name to your intended strategy & brand image. So here are my thoughts and I wonder what others think.

    1. No acronyms or names that can become acronyms

    There’s been many threads on BT reciting the what these acronyms really mean e.g. Sabena = Such A Bad Experience Never Again.

    2. Do you want to be regionally identified?

    e.g. British Airways, Norwegian, Finnair, Air France, American Airlines. If you choose to do this your strategy automatically becomes one where the region in question is your home base and where most of your flights will originate from. It also requires ypu to reflect that region in your brand. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially with small airlines but if you are a small airline who wishes to become a big airline, this might limit your ambitions.

    A better option here might be to use a name that is connected with a region as far as the locals are concerned but sounds more generic to non-locals. Delta is a good example here as I only found out last year when I flew into Monroe, Louisiana (where Delta was founded) that the airline is named after the Mississippi Delta area nearby. When I used to live in Newcastle, I created an imaginary airline called Magpie Airways with the same idea in mind.

    3. Named after founder

    e.g. Ryanair, Loganair, StobartAir, Lauda Air etc. This avoids the regional problem whilst retaining a connection to the birth of the airline. Obviously if that person becomes persona-non-grata for some reason (there’s been no Air Hitler) then it could be problematic but this can be mitigated if the name is reasonably common. The advantage of this is it places no limits on the growth of the airline. Ryanair is a great example of this.

    However, there can be a problem if the name is identified with an individual to too great an extent. Virgin is synonymous with Richard Branson and his personal style but he is getting on a bit and I don’t know if Virgin as a brand can succeed in a post-Branson world. Partly that is because the word virgin works with the Branson persona but does it otherwise?

    4. Cool words that quickly become naff

    There’s been many like this especially if the strategy is aimed at younger travellers. What these airlines forget that young people grow up and that cool name is no longer cool. If you’re after a quick buck, this strategy can work but it is time limited.

    5. Aviation action words

    e.g. words such as Go, Jet, Fly, Wizz etc. I think the secret here is to use 1 syllable words as much as possible which are compounded with another syllable to make an easily memorised name. They may not be the coolest words, they may not be regionally or personally identifiable but I think they are probably the best names from a marketing point of view.

    The difficulty is there are only so many such words and if too many do this, then it creates confusion in brand recognition to the detriment of all.

    A variant of this is perhaps to use names of birds or other flying animals e.g. Eagle, Parrot, etc. This lends itself well to logo design since the animal is usually recognisable. The issue of course is that some animals have personas in people’s minds and that can limit the effectiveness of brand imaginary. For example birds of prey are usually associated with military fighters which is the opposite of what civil aviation is all about.

    Some thoughts to ponder!

    8 users thanked author for this post.


    I’m no marketing expert but I think you do have to connect your name to your intended strategy & brand image.

    Today Online news has details of the new Eastern Airways flights to Paris Orly.

    But from a promotional viewpoint Cardiff (CWL) prefers to stress the name “Air France” rather than the operating carrier Eastern Airways.

    I recall the early days of code-sharing and how it caused endless confusion. In the end the regulators had to step in and tell the airlines to clarify matters.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    I find Bamboo, Mango, Peach, and Wizz annoying. And Virgin

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    United’s low cost subsidiary which met its demise about 15 years ago now.
    Apart from the rather naff play on ‘United’, there were the ridiculous pre recorded cabin announcements ‘Ted loves to fly’, ‘Ted loves this that and the other’. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

    I recall Delta had a similarly short lived low cost subsidiary called Song.
    I think it had its final number around the same time Ted got the boot.

    3 users thanked author for this post.


    “Air Seoul” always makes me smile when I see them taxiing around the Seoul Airport ….. but I think that’s because I was brought up on a 1970s UK TV diet of Two Ronnies sketches full of innuendo 🤦‍♂️

    5 users thanked author for this post.


    ‘Bonza’ is I feel is a great name for an Australian low cost operator primarily as the name is in the normal vocabulary of its target market.
    Having said that and looked at the people behind the start-up I have doubts about its longevity.


    I first thought “Etihad” was a joke. Uncomfortably close to “Jihad”.


    Some 55 years ago I was booked to fly from Paris to Djibouti on Air Madagascar. Imagine my face as I walked out to board, there were no airbridges in those days, to see emblazoned along the fuselage the word MADAIR.

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Business Traveller June 2023 edition
Business Traveller June 2023 edition
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below