Despite its relative simplicity, there’s a lot more that went into the Virgin America livery than most people realize. It was a slight extension of the Virgin Group brand – not a direct copycat.

It consisted of three colors and contained custom design elements. It was painted on a total of 67 aircraft (four individual types) before the airline was absorbed into Alaska Airlines in April of 2018.

The 3 neatest things about the Virgin America livery

The lifespan of Virgin America was relatively short (2007-2018). There was only one livery, and it remained unchanged throughout the course of the airline’s existence.

Being part of the Virgin Group, it borrowed many of the same design elements from the Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia liveries. The Virgin logo on the vertical stabilizer was the most obvious carryover, but there were other parts of the livery that were unique to Virgin America.

Virgin America a319 livery
Probably the smallest aircraft ever to wear the Virgin colors, but the A319 wore it well IMHO.

It was also the first commercial livery ever applied to an A321neo. Virgin America was the launch customer for that type in 2014, with a firm order of 10 aircraft. 4 had been delivered to the airline before the acquisition by Alaska Airlines had taken place. Alaska Airlines then took the remaining deliveries.

Virgin America a321neo livery
Oh, what could have been. There were only 4 A321neo’s painted in this livery, which is a real shame considering how good it looks.

1. The titles are a custom typeface

Despite containing core elements of the Virgin Group brand, the Virgin America titles on the forward section of the fuselage were a custom typeface. That typeface was created by Matthew Aaron Desmond, the founder of MADType.

The Virgin America typeface followed the same style as other Virgin Group brands. I don’t know about you, but I still can’t help to giggle (at least a little) whenever I see the word “virgin” painted on anything.

It’s not a completely custom font (obviously), but there was some work involved to match the word “america” to the style of the existing “Virgin Atlantic” titles of the time.

2. The secondary typeface is Eurostile (Bold)

As I was creating the illustrations you see in this overview, I discovered that the secondary typeface used in the livery is Eurostile Bold. If it’s not Eurostile, it’s darn close.

These secondary elements include:

  • The name of the aircraft printed just below the cockpit windows
  • The registration number located on the door flap of the forward landing gear
  • The registration number located on the rear section of the fuselage
Virgin America aircraft names
Even though the purpose of this image is to show you how Eurostile (Bold) was used as the font for the individual aircraft names, I’m more impressed by how clever these are. Nicely done Virgin. Nicely done indeed.

3. The red paint is actually metallic

Although the color palette for the Virgin America livery consists of only three colors, one could argue that it’s actually four if you consider that some design elements are metallic. Maybe even five if you count the blue used in the flag graphic on the wingtips:

Virgin America A320 livery
Another unique element of the Virgin America livery was the American Flag graphic applied to the wingtips (as seen here on my Airbus A320 template).
Virgin America A320 with sharklets livery
For aircraft that featured sharklets, the American flag graphic was more pronounced. ‘Murica!

The red paint used for the main titles, the engines, and the vertical stabilizer is the same hue. However, the paint used on the engines and the vertical stabilizer contained a mild metallic flake.  It was only really visible in bright sunlight.

I didn’t even notice it until I was sitting in a window seat on a Virgin America flight from San Francisco to San Diego in August of 2016. Although it’s a neat design element that most people don’t even see, I should’ve known better. I knew that there was metallic flake used in the Virgin Atlantic livery so it was probably safe to assume that the Virgin America livery had it as well.

For reference, these are the colors used to create this livery:

  • Fuselage: #FFFFFF (R=255, G=255, B=255)
  • Titles: #CB0401 (R=203, G=0, B=0)
  • Engine / vertical stabilizer: #CB0401 (R=203, G=0, B=0) *metallic*
virgin america colors
The Virgin America color palette is relatively simple, but those red metallics are downright scandalous in direct sunlight. That’s a compliment, by the way.

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