Let’s Try Getting the Airline Names Right, eh?

I love words and I love writers who nitpick and analyze our lazy conversational patterns. This blog piece by Patrick Smith, known as the pilot with a blog, captures perfectly the essence of how most people mess up the actual names of airlines.  Here he teaches us the real names of airlines…

Our Mokulele Airlines pilot Bob, flying to Molokai. No need to close the door.
Our Mokulele Airlines pilot Bob, flying to Molokai. No need to close the door.

“• Let’s be clear on this “Air” thing. There are no such things as “British Air,” “Virgin Air,” “Alaska Air,” or “Singapore Air,” just to pick four.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic (or Virgin America), Alaska Airlines and Singapore Airlines are what you mean. As to that first one, you can earn extra credit by calling it “BA,” as savvy fliers like to say.

• There’s no “Malaysian Airlines,” and there’s no “Iberian Airlines” either. It’s Iberia.

• You cannot fly to Rome on “Air Italia” or “Alitalian.” It’s Alitalia.

• To camel cap or not to camel cap? The Egyptian national carrier is EgyptAir, not “Egyptair” or “Egypt Air.” On the other hand, it’s Icelandair and Finnair, not “IcelandAir” or “FinnAir.” (Alas now defunct, though still fondly remembered, it was neither “SwissAir” nor “Swiss Air.” It was Swissair.)

• Pardon my nitpicking, but there is no “Delta Airlines” based in Atlanta, Georgia. There is only Delta Air Lines. I wish more carriers used this old-timey three-word style.

• In the old days, one flew to Seoul on KAL, as everyone called it. But did that stand for Korean Air Lines, or was it Korean Airlines? I’ve got photos of aircraft on which both are painted. No matter, in 2014 it’s a short and simple Korean Air.

• There is no such thing as “China Air.” There is, however, China Airlines, the national carrier of Taiwan, Republic of China (ROC).

There also is Air China, based in Beijing, in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Don’t mix them up: the PRC is the sworn enemy and claimant of Taiwanese sovereignty, and China Airlines and Air China crews are known to engage in airport brawls and run one another off taxiways.


Read more of this post on Patrick Smith’s Ask the Pilot blog.