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American Airlines Repaints Its Planes—to Much Carping

A freshly repainted American Airlines jet on display at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
A freshly repainted American Airlines jet on display at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Photograph by Mike Fuentes/Bloomberg

The downside of creating a classic brand image is that you can never change it without killing a classic brand image. And thereby poking the Internet anger gods.

On Thursday morning, American Airlines did both when it unveiled a flashy new paint job for its fleet of aircraft. The brazenly patriotic, hot-rod look supplants the airline’s classic, mid-20th century design—one that once called to mind the golden era of flight but has more recently come to symbolize an industry struggling to adapt. Goodbye to The Aviator. Welcome to Team America: World Police.