What’s in a name ?


Regular flyers might remember the type of aircraft they flew in; whether it was an Airbus A-320 or a Boeing 787.

But few will be able to tell if they flew on a Pretty Woman, Queen of the Skies , a Rosemary or a Turmeric?

Giving names to aircrafts is a practice that started with Viking’s ships, but the tradition is still being carried out today. Naming an aircraft is not just fun. There is history and reason to it too. Each aircraft has a name that embodies the brand value of the airline. It’s just the aspiration of flying around the world in a fun and glamorous way.

Airlines have different reasons for naming their aircraft. While some showcase aspects of the home country, others use it to highlight the places the airline flies to. Yet others want the names to be an extension of the airline’s image.


Lufthansa names its planes after German cities,  Aer Lingus after Irish saints and KLM after a mix of birds, famous women and destinations. But perhaps the biggest enthusiast is Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic who has, as always made naming part of the brand strategy and the image of fun he projects for Virgin.  They call their aircraft ‘flying ladies’  with names of movies such as ‘Barbarella’ or ‘Pretty Woman’, or songs like ‘Jersey Girl’, ‘Dancing Queen’ or ‘Mustang Sally’ or fairy tales like ‘Sleeping Beauty’.


When Air India got the Boeing 747, it decided to name the aircraft after Indian emperors or Indian states while the smaller aircraft were named after rivers.

air india

It’s a very interesting story as to how the aircrafts of SpiceJet got their names.

Sitting at a luncheon at Imperial hotel in Delhi, the CEO and the promoter were going through some intense brain storming sessions on various aspects of setting up the airline in India.

Amongst the other things agreed upon, some of those that stand out are the fact that the airline must have an  ‘Indianness’  to its name. It was so ironic that they were seated at an Indian restaurant ‘Spice Route’.

And so SpiceJet was born.

spicejet 2

Keeping in tune with the bold characteristic of the airline and its “Red” livery, the management appropriately decided to christen each aircraft with a unique name of the Indian spices.

The airline today has aircraft called coriander, chilly, turmeric, red chilli, mustard, pepper and heeng.

Although the English names were there from the start of the airlines, but when they got the smaller Bombardiers for regional flights they decided to use the Indian names for spices such as Heeng, Dhania and Elaichi. In all 75 names of spices have been christened so far.

So the next time you fly SpiceJet, as you get down from the bus on the tarmac and wait to climb the steps, do remember to take a look at the front of the plane and see a name painted near the nose just under the cockpit.

In fact it’s not unusual to see the millennial flyers taking to social media, to share SpiceJet’s  quirky aircraft names on the social media platform to show which aircraft they have flown on.


Incidentally even the in-flight magazine of SpiceJet is called Spice Route.



Fun quiz

Identify this spice & Leave your reply in the comments.

This spice was a  precious commodity traded between Arabs and Venetians during the Middle Ages. Imparting an invaluable flavour in cooking and the preparation of drinks, it also has a strong symbolic value and even appears on the National flag of a country. There is one recipe whose secret has never been revealed: that of Coca-Cola. Well, this spice is supposed to be one of its mysterious ingredients…



PC: Air India;KLM;Virgin Atlantic; SpiceJet