April 2, 2017.   Department of Imaginary Nostalgia.

Retro liveries, in which an airline paints up one or more planes in a color scheme from decades past, are trendy nowadays. It’s a fun idea, at least when applied sparingly. Among the best are American’s “Astrojet” throwbacks, and Lufthansa’s gorgeous, 1970s livery redone on a brand-new 747-8. Some of them, like Lufthansa’s, make you wonder why they ever changed liveries in the first place. Others, like American’s revival of TWA’s clunky red-and-white scheme from the 1980s, were better off left in the dustbin.

American has a whole series of these tributes — shout-outs to the various carriers that, through a long series of mergers and acquisitions, were folded into today’s American Airlines: TWA, America West, Allegheny, PSA, and so on.

That TWA scheme isn’t something we needed to see again, but even worse, they’ve assigned it to a Boeing 737, a plane that TWA never flew. This is maybe getting too geeky, but if you’re going to do this, shouldn’t it be aircraft-appropriate, when possible? American has plenty of 767s that it could have offered up, or an old MD-80 series jet, both of which were flown by TWA.

The latest carrier on the bandwagon is JetBlue, who’ve decorated an Airbus A320 in an old-timey scheme featuring an ochre and blue cheatline and the titles “New York International.” It’s a nostalgic-looking uniform that screams late ’60s or early ’70s — though for some reason they’ve stayed with a modern tail, which sort of unbalances the whole thing. But what really makes it funny is that it’s completely made-up. JetBlue has only been in operation since 2000, and this livery never existed!

They do have a gift for self-promotion, that jetBlue, and this time they’ve been especially clever. For what it’s worth, had the company been around in, say, 1973, its planes probably would have looked like this.

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