What’s Old is Blue Again: Introducing JetBlue’s 1960s-style retrojet

Livery

Some things never go out of style. For aviation buffs, this means the 1960s, the golden age of air travel. When flying was so mod, so nifty, so fab. Think vintage brochures, vivid colors, bold typography, smart uniforms, hot meals and sipped cocktails—all the glitz and glamour of the jet age.

Three photo collage of retro-style amenity kits, a uniformed crewmember in a retro-style tie, and a close-up of a retro-style tie

Today, airlines around the world celebrate this history with their own special liveries. While this classic era in aviation was well before JetBlue’s time (we are only 16 years old after all), it got us thinking: What would JetBlue have looked like if we had existed some 50 years ago? How would we stand out as an industry innovator? How would we have been different?

So in true JetBlue fashion we set out to try something new—to create the JetBlue brand of the 1960s. We couldn’t simply pull an old paint scheme off the shelf as other airlines have done. Instead, we dug deep into popular 1960s branding styles and themes to create an old look that is truly original. The Retrojet livery—designed by JetBlue’s Design Team—was conceptualized after hours of research at New York City’s Lubalin Archive at the Cooper Union.

Three photo-collage of amenity kit and its essentials, and crewmembers posing in retro-style uniforms.

The Retrojet, on the plane named “What’s Old is Blue Again,” takes flight today to kick off our seasonal service from New York’s JFK to Palm Springs, CA—a picture-perfect vacation hotspot and land of midcentury modernism. With a retro-style uniform fashion show and complimentary limited-edition amenity kits for all customers inflight, we’re pulling out all the (non)stops to bring the 1960s to life on Nov. 11, 2016.

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But if you suddenly just experienced a serious case of FOMO, you can still get a taste of Palm Springs at our pop-up Time Travel Agency this weekend in Manhattan at 138 Wooster St. in SoHo. There, you’ll transport back in time, where everything—including the airfares—is a nod to the mid-1960s.

Invitation to Time Travel Agency

Q&A with the JetBlue Design Team

 

How did you make a final selection on font and colors for the vintage JetBlue logos?

The fonts are Craw Modern and Franklin Gothic; both were widely used and represented during the era. For colors, JetBlue has standard blue and orange shades we uniformly use today. We took our current color palette and reverse engineered it to our 1960s brand. We had to ask ourselves: To be where we are today, where would we have come from? 

The “starbust” appears on several design elements for RetroJet. What is it?

The starburst is an iconic symbol of the 1960s used widely in décor (starburst clock), printed on flatware and used in advertisements. In our case, it also evokes the jet engine fan.

Explain the design of the RetroJet aircraft.

For the aircraft design we took cues from what various airlines were doing at the time with paint schemes, notably TWA and Eastern.

Fuselage: Color lines running the length of the fuselage were a common theme among airlines in the 1960s; they are known as speed stripes.

Tail: We designed an eye-popping tail with a jazz-inspired arrangement of the letters featuring three different colors.

JetBlue Name and Branding: We opted for “JetBlue Airways” in full because it was common for companies to spell out their entire name rather than abbreviate or use acronyms. National Broadcasting Company (versus NBC) and Trans World Airlines (versus TWA) are examples. JetBlue is New York’s Hometown Airline® today, so we incorporated “New York International” into the paint scheme as a 1960s nod to our New York beginnings and to our extensive international destinations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.