It’s not entirely unusual for airlines to give their latest aircraft a retro-themed paint job – a nod to their heritage that so many airlines are very proud of. British Airways, for example, made the headlines when it painted three of it’s vintage Boeing 747-400’s in even more vintage liveries. The likes of American Airlines, Israel’s El Al and Australian flag-carrier Qantas also have similar planes sporting paint jobs of yesteryear.
But Korean Air has come up with a slightly different way of celebrating its 50th anniversary with a vintage look – or more precisely 11 different vintage looks. And they come in the form of the airline’s uniform collection throughout the years – worn by a special cadre of cabin crew who are known as the “Historical Uniform Team”.
Yes, Korean Air really does have a special team of cabin crew who wear historical uniforms as their usual work clothes. While they are normally just called upon for special events they even work flights together in the retro looks and Korean Air plans to increase the number of special flights for a short period.
There’s no way of exactly knowing when the team will pop up but Korean Air plans on scheduling them on a wide variety of flights over the next month – including to destinations like Los Angeles, Tokyo and Beijing, as well as Singapore, Paris and Sydney.
They even held a fashion show on a recent flight which they shared on YouTube:
It’s all very reminiscent of a “catwalk in the sky” that Dutch airline KLM arranged on a recent flight between Amsterdam and New York – the difference being that KLM had 100-years worth of uniforms to show off. Unfortunately, for KLM this was just a one-off and not something that many passengers will ever get to experience.
Founded in 1969, Korean Air has grown from a mere eight aircraft to around 200 aircraft today and now flies around the world to about 124 destinations in 44 countries. But it’s recent history has been mired in controversy.
Korean Air is part of the Hanjin Group which is one of South Korea’s massive family-owned and run conglomerates with their fingers in many pies – known in Korea as chaebol. The excesses and power of these ruling families are coming increasing scrutiny and in Korean Air’s case, there have been plenty of headline-grabbing incidents to scrutinise.
Earlier this year, two members of the founding family were given suspended prison sentences for smuggling luxury goods through the airline. One of those sentenced was Heather Cho – who achieved infamy in 2014 for her ‘nut rage’ tantrum which eventually saw her sent to prison.
So worried are investors about corporate governance resting in the hands of the Cho family that shares in the airline surged when the late chairman and CEO of the airline, Cho Yang-ho died on a trip to Los Angeles in April.
Korean Air has recently made several network changes because of increasing tensions between South Korea and Japan. The loss-making airline offered short-term unpaid leave to its employees for the first time in its history earlier this month to save cash.