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Today, United Airlines revealed their retro “Friend Ship” livery on an Airbus A320 (N475UA) at Chicaco’s O’Hare International Airport.

Hundreds of United employees showed up to celebrate not only the new retro livery, but also United’s 85th birthday.

United can trace its roots back to 1926 when they carried mail under the “Varney Air Service” name. Then the airline was purchased by William Boeing and merged with his other ventures as “United Aircraft and Transport Corporation.” In 1928, several airlines were combined as “United Air Lines.” Since then, the airline has successfully grown and had many different liveries.

Late last year, United employees were able to vote on which retro livery they wanted from five choices and the “Friend Ship” livery won.

The retro livery will be flown through out United’s North American route system.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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Looks stumpy, should have painted a 757 instead….

I think the B757 makes almost any livery look better. Perfect proportions in my opinion.


I love it! Reminds me of the really old days of gloves and hats on the air hostess.


You can see all 3 different livery tails of United in the background of the last photo. Good way of showing the past, present, and future.

Hey Warren, good catch, I totally missed that.


Trevor Casey

I Miss the tulip. But I love the friendship livery even more!

I am still hoping the Tulip will make its way back… even if it is with a retro livery!

David | AirlineReporter


Eh, doesn’t look good on the 320.


I used to fly coast to coast when “Freship” livery. Then it was good airline.


Most don’t like it on the bus.Would look much more better on the 757. When I stared this livery was being replaced by rainbow.


I think this looks awesome…and looks way better on the -320 than I thought it would when I first saw a mock-up!

Darned shame that an American owned airline, which at one time ws owned by the American unions that helped build it, had to do this livery on a foreign-built aircraft.

Joe Flyer

You got that right–did United even fly the French Plane of Death (aka Airbus) in the 70’s? I wish the had rolled this out on a US made and Chicago based BOEING aircraft – maybe their first 787 should come in vintage colors!


Brings back memories. Love this “new” retro trend!

Ironic that Continental was also Varney Speed, full circle.

If you would like appear diverse and also high class miss Dior cherie Regardless of basic or sleek traces you prefer

Keep Flying The Friendly Skies…looks great!

I would like to see United bring this back on its entire fleet, and then re-train there flight crews to operate the airline like it was operated in those great days of air travel. United is nothing more than riding on a city bus unless your one of those ego pompous arrogant freeloading losers riding in first class for free.

stan vacha

I think the 60,s livery is and was the best. Realistically anything but the “globe” on the vertical stabilizer. It had the smoothest lines with a flowing motion

Barney Miller

Well, I’ll take an A320 over Boeing’s All-American-Look-for-the-Union-Label 737-MAX. Thanks.

And for the foreign plane haters, where do y’all think United’s Caravelle jets were built? Did they not wear this scheme?

Agreed — the A320 looks stumpy in this paintjob, but the 737 looked stumpier in the late 60s, early 70s when it wore the Friend Ship colors. (Go Fat Albert)

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