As we see airlines continue to retire four engine planes, it’s pretty clear that the future of long haul aviation involves planes with two engines. In that sense, the two planes that are really revolutionizing air travel are the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.
What makes these planes so incredible is their fuel efficiency, long range, low operating costs, and fairly low capacity (at least compared to planes like the A380 or 747), which is a great combination for airlines to maximize revenue.
These planes have opened up routes that weren’t otherwise possible. For example, look at All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines in the US alone. Pre-pandemic the two carriers flew 787s from Tokyo to Boston, San Diego, and San Jose, routes which they couldn’t previously have operated in an economically feasible fashion.
All that being said, I do have a preference between the two planes, and figured I’d share four reasons I prefer the A350 to the 787.
The A350 has an awesome tail camera
While I suppose it’s technically not a “standard” feature of the A350, most of the A350s I’ve flown have offered tail cameras. Who needs inflight entertainment when you can just watch your gorgeous plane crossing the globe for hours on end? Meanwhile as far as I know, no 787 offers such a tail camera.
The A350 has superior windows
When the 787 was first introduced, Boeing advertised how great the 787’s windows are. They are substantially bigger than on other commercial planes, which is a plus.
The catch is that as a standard feature, the 787 doesn’t have window blinds. Instead the windows just “dim” at the push of a button. That sounds great in theory, except in practice windows don’t get dark. Call me traditional, but I simply like the A350’s “proper” window shades, which can be fully lowered. Unfortunately the Airbus A350 will soon be adopting this technology as well.
The A350 has more comfortable economy seating
When the 787 was first introduced, several airlines installed eight seats per row in economy. In the industry’s never ending attempt to fit more seats onto planes, many airlines eventually increased that to nine seats per row.
Meanwhile the A350 has nine seats per row, though has a wider cabin. As a result, you can expect economy seats on the A350 to have 18″ of width, while on the 787 they have closer to 17″. Every inch counts!
The A350 is quieter
While I haven’t personally measured the sound, I’ve been consistently amazed by how quiet the A350 is. While the 787 is already significantly quieter than other Boeing models, the A350 is on par with the A380 in terms of how quiet it is in the cabin. That really can make a huge difference when it comes to overall wellbeing and being able to sleep.
Airbus claims that interior noise levels on the A350 are five decibels quieter than competing aircraft (presumably the 787), and up to nine decibels quieter towards the front of the plane, equating to four times less noise.
Both the 787 and A350 are revolutionary in terms of the opportunities they’ve opened up for new routes to be economically viable. As we see airlines retire larger planes, it’s increasingly clear that these wide body jets represent the future of long haul travel.
While I’m always happy to fly either the A350 or 787, I do have a preference for the A350. As an avgeek I love the tail camera, and as someone who struggles to sleep on planes I prefer the window shades and the quieter cabin. Lastly, in economy there’s no arguing that the A350 is more comfortable all around than the 787.
Do you have a preference between the 787 and A350?