Flying Long Haul – Are Some Planes Better Than Others?

Which plane is best for long haul flights

What are your main considerations when booking a flight? I expect most of us look at the price and the times but do you ever look at the type of aircraft, especially when booking a long haul trip. 

Sometimes you may not have an option however, on some of the busy, transatlantic routes there may be a quite a few different airlines operating a variety of planes. For example, from London to New York, on the same day and at very similar prices British Airways are using a Boeing 747, a 787 and a 777. United Airlines operates a Boeing 767 and Delta are using an Airbus A330 and A340.

Flying east is similar, many of the larger airlines such as Emirates operate the Airbus A380 ‘superjumbo’ but Qantas and Saudia Airlines also use the smaller Boeing 787 and 777 respectively.

Although flying business or first class does help alleviate the discomfort of being trapped on a plane for 9 hours we won’t be looking at the specific classes. Instead, we will be concentring on the characteristics of the plane itself and how these affect us wherever you are sitting.

So, let’s have a look at the types of planes and their differences:

Boeing 747

The plane that shrank the world – The Boeing 747

The classic Boeing 747 still looks as impressive today as it did when it was first rolled out an incredible 50 years ago. It is the workhorse of many airlines and its ability to carry cargo means it is still in production.

Although we still love the classic jumbo jet it does feel slightly old-fashioned when compared to its newer rivals. The lower cabin pressure, humidity and noise levels are not as comfortable as modern aircraft. It also has smaller windows, not a major issue, but Mrs W is not a fan of flying so the more light and feeling of space the better.

Airbus A380

Airbus A380
The Airbus A380

The first doubledecker A380 super-jumbo was delivered to Singapore Airlines in 2007. Although it can carry over 500 passengers, unlike the 747 it is not as versatile and cannot easily be converted to carry cargo. Airbus has announced it will cease A380 production at the end of 2021.

The Airbus A380 is very comfortable especially on the upper deck however the number of passengers is one of its problems. As it carries more people there’s a greater chance of a passenger issue disrupting the flight such as late boarding, illness or even air rage. Also if there is a delay or cancellation the airline has to help out and re-book 500 passengers and not just 280.

Boeing 787

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner‘ is our current favourite long haul plane. We have tried business and economy class with a couple of different airlines and all flights have been very comfortable. Although one flight was delayed by a minor technical delay, they did actually have to turn the plane off and on again!

The cabin has higher pressurisation which is far more comfortable for passengers. There are larger windows with electronic dimmers (although quite slow) and it is noticeably quieter. The main cabin also feels quite spacious and as the total number of passengers is much fewer than the A380, there’s less chance of other people delaying or disrupting the flight.

Airbus A330

The Airbus A330
The Airbus A330

We’ve been on quite a few of the twin-engine Airbus A330’s when flying with Virgin Atlantic to New York. It’s fine but nothing special, it feels like a 20th-century plane and nothing like the 21st-century design of the Boeing 787, we would definitely choose the Boeing if it was available.

Airbus A350

The Airbus A350
The new Airbus A350

The latest Airbus A350 entered service in 2015 and was designed to directly compete with the Boeing 787. We have not yet tried the A350 but have heard excellent feedback from frequent flyers we know. This includes the spacious cabin, the high ceiling and push button window blinds. The cabin’s higher pressurisation and reduced noise levels help to make the flight experience very comfortable. It has been described as having the advantages of the 787 with a bit of extra space. We hope to try the Airbus A350 for ourselves very soon.

Do you ever consider the type of plane when booking a flight? Is so, what is your favourite?

Which planes are the best when flying long haul? #planes

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