Have you ever wondered how airlines choose the names for their airplanes? In the United States, as well as many other countries, it’s not uncommon for commercial airlines to name their airplanes. It’s a common practice that’s been around for decades. With that said, airlines don’t just randomly choose a name. Rather, they use a more meaningful method to name their airplanes.
According to CNN, Hawaii Airlines recently named some of its Airbus A330s airplanes after star constellations. Specifically, Hawaii Airlines named an A330 Makali’l, which was the star constellation used by sailors to navigate the oceans. In addition to star constellations, some airlines name their airplanes after native birds, whereas other airlines name their airplanes after specific wind currents, such as Hawaii’s Ohana.
Other airlines use location-based names for their airplanes. If a particular airplane performs a significant number of flights to a specific location, the airline may name the respective airplane after that location. El Al, for example, has named several of its airplanes after locations, including Jerusalem and Rehovot. Other airlines have followed suit by naming their airplanes after locations as well.
Qantas Airways has also named many of its airplanes after locations. Nearly all of the airline’s 707 airplanes, for instance, are named after major cities included in the company’s flight routes. Qantas Airways named an airplane Alice Springs, which as you may know is a territory in Australia.
Virgin Atlantic arguably has the most unorthodox method of airplane nomenclature. The U.S.-based airline often chooses funny names for its airplanes, avoiding the more traditional naming methods employed by other airlines. For example, Virgin Atlantic named one of its airplanes “Jefferson Airplane,” and it named another one of its airplanes “Screw it, let’s do it.” Furthermore, Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to use a hashtag as an airplane name. Several years ago, Virgin Atlantic named one of its airplanes “#nerdbird,” which not surprisingly became a trending hashtag on Twitter and other social media networks.
It’s important to note that not all airlines name their airplanes. Some simply use the manufacturer’s original name. When an airline decides to name one of its airplanes, though, it typically chooses a meaningful name. Some airlines name their airplanes after star constellations, whereas others name their airplanes after locations. The bottom line is that there’s usually meaning behind an airplane’s name. With the exception of Virgin Atlantic, airlines don’t choose random names for their airplanes.