My 6 Favorite Commercial Airplanes

My 6 Favorite Commercial Airplanes

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In passing I’ve often mentioned my airplane preferences, but I’ve never written a dedicated post with my favorite airplanes, so that’s exactly what I wanted to do here. I’m curious how the preferences of OMAAT readers line up with mine.

The best airplanes to fly on (in my opinion)

In this post I wanted to share my six favorite types of commercial aircraft. Before I do so, a few things to note:

  • I’m not listing my six favorite planes in absolute terms, but rather I want to list my plane preferences across the spectrum, from jumbo jets to regional jets; in other words, what’s my favorite regional jet, what’s my favorite mainline narrow body jet, etc.?
  • I’ll only be mentioning entire aircraft “families,” so I’m not differentiating the A320neo from the A321neo, for example
  • As you’ll see, some planes I love purely for avgeek reasons, some planes I love for onboard comfort, and most I love for a combination of both

Here are my favorites, roughly in order (starting with my favorite):

Boeing 747 — forever the queen of the skies

I feel like I’d be betraying my inner avgeek if I didn’t put the Boeing 747 first on the list. While the plane is slowly disappearing from commercial service, and while it’s not the most modern jet, there’s something so special about the plane, and I can’t help but get giddy every time I see it.

Surely we can all agree the plane is gorgeous and iconic from the outside… look at those curves!

Lufthansa Boeing 747-400

But it’s not just the outside that’s a treat — the inside is awesome as well, especially if you can sit in the nose, where you’re literally seated under the cockpit.

Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 first class

The upper deck is pretty awesome as well, and if you use your imagination, you can just pretend that it’s an all-business class jet, and that there’s nothing downstairs. And while the 747 has steep stairs you have to climb to get to the upper deck, I almost prefer that to just boarding directly to the upper deck of the A380. There’s something so special about climbing up those stairs.

Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 business class

While we’re taking a trip down memory lane, anyone else remember Lufthansa’s old 747-400 first class, which consisted of both a seat and a separate bed? Ahhh, those were the days…

Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 first class (back in the day)

Airbus A380 — a comfortable whale

With its two full decks, the Airbus A380 lacks the sleek curves of the Boeing 747. Quite to the contrary, it kind of looks like an Airbus A319 that had an allergic reaction to something.

Emirates Airbus A380

Fortunately the A380 delivers when it comes to the experience onboard — the plane is incredibly quiet, the cabin is wide, there are typically tail cameras passengers can watch, and the plane has incredible range.

Thanks to the cabin’s width, economy is generally much more comfortable than on planes like the Boeing 777. On top of that, thanks to the design of the A380, airlines have often installed special amenities on the planes, like Emirates’ A380 first class shower and business class bar.

Emirates Airbus A380 first class shower
Emirates A380 business class bar

While the Boeing 747 is my favorite plane to look at, the Airbus A380 is hands down my favorite plane to fly on.

Airbus A350 — the plane of the future

Double decker planes with four engines will eventually be a thing of the past, as airlines instead focus on planes with two engines that still have incredible range. That includes the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, and personally I have a preference for the A350.

Not only is the A350 a sleek plane from the outside (I love the cockpit windows, the winglets, etc.), but it features a great passenger experience. In many ways it reminds me of the A380 — the plane is quiet and smooth, there’s typically a tail camera passengers can watch, and economy is even quite comfortable, with “just” nine seats per row.

Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000
Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000 Qsuites business class
Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000 tail camera

Airbus A220 — the most comfortable economy

The Airbus A220 is a unique plane, and is arguably the most comfortable narrow body jet out there. The plane is gorgeous on the outside, from the curves, to the cockpit windows, to the winglets.

Air France Airbus A220-300

Even inside, the plane is exceptionally comfortable. The cabin is only in a 2-3 configuration (rather than a 3-3 configuration), and features the widest economy seats in the industry. On top of that, thanks to the layout, 80% of passengers have either an aisle or window seat.

Air France Airbus A220-300 cabin

Add in absolutely incredible range and economics, and this plane is a winner that I look forward to flying more and more.

Airbus A320neo family — better than Boeing

The Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 are the backbone of short and medium haul global commercial aviation. Between those two planes, I have a strong preference for the A320.

JetBlue Airbus A321LR

For one, the A320-family product offering is much more diverse. Not only does it stretch all the way from the A318 to the A321 (in terms of size), but Airbus has also done an incredible job with improving fuel efficiency and range on these planes. In 2023 Airbus will launch the A321XLR, which will be the longest range narrow body plane in the world. Boeing hasn’t even announced a competitor to that.

But even beyond that, it’s awesome to see what airlines have done with the Airbus A320-family. For example, it’s what JetBlue uses for its new transatlantic flights, and the Mint product is gorgeous.

JetBlue Airbus A321LR Mint business class

In economy I also find the Airbus A320 to be more comfortable than the Boeing 737. The cabin on the A320 is several inches wider than on the 737, and that translates into wider seats, even in economy. Every inch (or portion of an inch) counts!

JetBlue Airbus A321LR economy class

Embraer E175 — the king of regionals

The Embraer E175 is in a league of its own among regional jets. Unlike planes like the CRJ-700, the Embraer E175 really feels like a big jet, in terms of the cabin, overhead bins, etc.

American Eagle Embraer E175

Once onboard, I like the 1-2 layout in first class, as it’s always nice to be able to sit alone if you’re not traveling with anyone.

American Eagle Embraer E175 first class

Even in economy the 2-2 layout is pleasant, since there are no middle seats.

American Eagle Embraer E175 economy class

While I’d usually try to avoid regional jets, the Embraer E175 is one plane I don’t mind flying, even on longer flights.

Bottom line

The truth is that I’m happy flying just about any plane, because I love flying. Even so, there’s no denying that not all planes are created equal, and we all have our favorites.

Personally I love the 747 and A380, and refuse to decide between them, because they’re different beasts to me. Aside from that, for me it’s Airbus ahead of Boeing for all mainline jets — I prefer the A350 to the 787, the A320 to the 737, and I love the A220. Then if you’re going to be flying a regional jet, the Embraer E175 is the way to go.

What are your airplane preferences? Are you also #TeamAirbus for the most part?

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  1. Naram Nassar

    While definitely the Airbus range is more comfortable than Boeing 's in general, I expected the B707 to have a mention for its quality build and reliability.

  2. Eduardo Woolrich

    Great post curse from a Airbus executive, because their preference hide that he works there.

  3. An_Old_Guy_from_Maryland

    You'll be able to tell that I'm an old guy when you look at some of the aircraft on this list:

    1) Concorde--Incomparable! I have had hanging on my wall for 29 years my pair of framed flight certificates signed by the captains of my IAD-LHR round trip. Was able to walk up to the cockpit and talk to the flight crew and video tape it. Going over there were only 14 people on the...

    You'll be able to tell that I'm an old guy when you look at some of the aircraft on this list:

    1) Concorde--Incomparable! I have had hanging on my wall for 29 years my pair of framed flight certificates signed by the captains of my IAD-LHR round trip. Was able to walk up to the cockpit and talk to the flight crew and video tape it. Going over there were only 14 people on the plane (just before Christmas). Digital readout of airspeed and altitude on the bulkhead was great!
    2) Lockheed Electra--fast, powerful, smooth flying four-engine turboprop with big windows!
    3) 747--while it started the industry down the path to today's cattlecar aircraft, it was, as many here have said, The Queen of the Skies.
    4) L1011--the most comfortable widebody I've ever flown on (I judge all widebodies from the coach section--I haven't had the $$$ or miles to fly in first)
    5) 727QC--island hopping across the Pacific on Air Micronesia. Cargo up front and boarding and deplaning via the DB Cooper stairs!
    6) Lockheed Constellation--Triple tailed beauty even though my only experience on this aircraft was on a second section of Eastern's DCA-EWR shuttle (yes, for a while they had an every other hour DCA-EWR and hourly BOS-EWR shuttle in addition to the hourly LGA service).

  4. Bruce Goldberg

    I must be an old guy...look at this list:

    1) Concorde -- incomparable. One of a kind. I have my framed certificates signed by the pilots of my IAD-LHR round trip on my wall
    2) Lockheed Electra--powerful and fast! Smooth as a Cadillac (egad--I must be old) on a newly paved highway. Big windows!
    3) 747 -- what everyone else on here has said--The absolute Queen of the Skies
    4) 727QC--island hopping...

    I must be an old guy...look at this list:

    1) Concorde -- incomparable. One of a kind. I have my framed certificates signed by the pilots of my IAD-LHR round trip on my wall
    2) Lockheed Electra--powerful and fast! Smooth as a Cadillac (egad--I must be old) on a newly paved highway. Big windows!
    3) 747 -- what everyone else on here has said--The absolute Queen of the Skies
    4) 727QC--island hopping on Air Mike across the Pacific with cargo up front and using the DB Cooper stairs for boarding and deplaning.
    5) Convair 990--The most unique airliner with those speed pods (capsized canoes!) on the wings.

  5. Shutterbug

    I just love the 747, remembering flights in first on the upper deck and business in the nose on the main deck.
    The Airbus320 neo on the other hand is an absolute nightmare, at least in the Lufthansa configuration in economy. It's a cattle train. I am 6'2" and my knees hurt being pressed into the back of the front seat. Luckily it was a short 1 hour flight. One gentleman (probably 6'5") simply...

    I just love the 747, remembering flights in first on the upper deck and business in the nose on the main deck.
    The Airbus320 neo on the other hand is an absolute nightmare, at least in the Lufthansa configuration in economy. It's a cattle train. I am 6'2" and my knees hurt being pressed into the back of the front seat. Luckily it was a short 1 hour flight. One gentleman (probably 6'5") simply didn't fit into his seat. Stewardesses were nice enough to arrange for him to be moved to an exit row and persuaded another (smaller) passenger to take his seat.

  6. Kent

    As an AvGeek, my most exciting flights have been on the L-1011 Tristar, IL-86, Tu-154, B767, Tu-144 (USSR version of the Concorde) and the Concorde.

    I’m perhaps dating myself a bit here.

  7. Steven M Jacoby

    Nothing will surpass the United 747-400, upstairs in business class, LAX or SFO to SYD, and the return flights. 26 seats and the cockpit were upstairs. We've still never felt more special than climbing the spiral staircase to the upper deck. Row 15 A&B or 15 J&K, before the sleeper seats, gave you unlimited legroom.

    Our best experience was November, 2000 on our flight from SYD-LAX. My wife and I were upstairs, gawking at...

    Nothing will surpass the United 747-400, upstairs in business class, LAX or SFO to SYD, and the return flights. 26 seats and the cockpit were upstairs. We've still never felt more special than climbing the spiral staircase to the upper deck. Row 15 A&B or 15 J&K, before the sleeper seats, gave you unlimited legroom.

    Our best experience was November, 2000 on our flight from SYD-LAX. My wife and I were upstairs, gawking at the cockpit, when the captain came out and told us he didn't then have time to let us in the cockpit, but he'd do so when we got to LAX. He did, including having us sit in the pilot and copilot seats, with their caps on us. The photo of us, then age 51, was pure joy, and one of our great memories. We've each flown about 1,500,000 miles. That experience, and many more on "The Queen", were the best.

    The crews justifiably loved the 747, as did we

  8. JD

    I remember Lufthansa’s old 747-400 first class fondly. We flew it many times MEX-FRA-MEX. It was awesome having the separate bed but up in the windows

  9. dalo

    Real AVGeeks will enjoy Episode One "Engineering Giants" currently available on Amazon Prime. Complete "down to the bones" teardown scheduled inspection of a British Airways 747. These people are serious and they are dedicated. Imagine inspecting every single rivet on a 747 for instance. If you love planes you'll find interest here.

  10. ChuckMO

    1. DC-9-30
    2. FH227-B
    3. 757-200
    4. MD-80
    5. DHC Dash 300
    6. Tecnam P2012

    I have my reasons.

  11. Norman

    Nothing compared to the Concorde. Only flew the AF one. A completely different flying experience.
    The biggest regret of my life-I cancelled a flight booked on Avios (Miles-I think they used a different term then) 2 weeks before they announced it was being discontinued.

    1. D3kingg

      @Norman

      Second that . When I was in high school I could have flown non rev on the BA Concorde for $700 taxes and fees.

    2. A Consumer

      In January 2003, I booked two seats (12A and 12B) for a Concorde flight on 5th May 2003 from JFK to LHR using AirMiles + £5 cash per seat. They were doing an offer - the same number of AirMiles to fly Concorde as for a normal Business Class ticket. Between booking and flying, BA announced the withdrawal of Concorde from service. The plane was packed; every seat was occupied, and some passengers had payed...

      In January 2003, I booked two seats (12A and 12B) for a Concorde flight on 5th May 2003 from JFK to LHR using AirMiles + £5 cash per seat. They were doing an offer - the same number of AirMiles to fly Concorde as for a normal Business Class ticket. Between booking and flying, BA announced the withdrawal of Concorde from service. The plane was packed; every seat was occupied, and some passengers had payed megabucks for their tickets. A never to be repeated experience.

    3. Norman

      In the eighties everyone wore suits on the Concorde. They gave you tons of memorabilia. I grabbed everything I could while rest of the repeat flyers ignored it all. Felt conspicuous but did not care
      The ladies each got a red rose. You could make worldwide calls while eating canapes a drinking champagne in the lounge. This was a big thing then.
      During the flight they offered to book you a hotel in...

      In the eighties everyone wore suits on the Concorde. They gave you tons of memorabilia. I grabbed everything I could while rest of the repeat flyers ignored it all. Felt conspicuous but did not care
      The ladies each got a red rose. You could make worldwide calls while eating canapes a drinking champagne in the lounge. This was a big thing then.
      During the flight they offered to book you a hotel in Paris for 1 night. I took the George V and promptly moved out the next day. A Limo took you from the airport. The lady behind me had a little dog with her. It was a Friday night and she came to Paris where her husband was working every week.
      I would love to see what Ben's review of a flight like that would be.
      The take off at 250 km/hr and the hot tiny windows at Mach 1.3 were amazing.
      By the late nineties the perks were gone and people were getting on in vests and short trousers. Deep down I knew Concorde's days were numbered.

  12. Alison

    I suspect where you sit might affect everyone's opinions. For me, I love business class on the A380 upstairs on BA with the extra large bathroom in the nose. Flying home on crutches after I sprained my ankle in Italy, it was a godsend. Quieter plane and good storage (although the best hard product I have flown was the seat on AA 777 biz class). But, I am not an AV-geek and just want a comfortable flight.

  13. David H

    My all time favorite to past aircraft to be on was the L-1011. IT was magnificent to be on. I have crew that used to fly it and they all loved it as well. I also loved the 727.
    If I'm on a regional today the E-175 is a no brainer. Especially the single seat in 1st class. It's comfortable and the overhead space is great.

  14. derek

    How about the quiet MD-80?

    Or the intimate cabin of a Boeing 737-200QC when the maximum length of the main deck cargo area is used?

    Concorde?

    I liked the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar.

  15. Theo Anast

    Wonderful post Howard.
    I totally agree.

  16. Donna

    No love for the 787? WOW! It’s my favorite long haul selection of the options currently available on routes I fly. I’ll admit I haven’t flown the A350 and it might be better. I hated the A380 and am happy to see it go. As for the 747, I don’t miss it at all and I was delighted when the 767s came on the scene and replaced it. I generally prefer the smaller of the...

    No love for the 787? WOW! It’s my favorite long haul selection of the options currently available on routes I fly. I’ll admit I haven’t flown the A350 and it might be better. I hated the A380 and am happy to see it go. As for the 747, I don’t miss it at all and I was delighted when the 767s came on the scene and replaced it. I generally prefer the smaller of the wide body aircraft. As for the narrow body aircraft, I honestly don’t notice much difference between them. I do not fly regionals these days but I can tell that they have come a long, long way in the past decade. The commuters were just awful for many years.

    1. jedipenguin

      The 767 is the best looking aircraft ever-the true queen

  17. Howard Miller

    Great post! Agree across the board, but also agree with other readers that the Boeing 767 at a minimum deserves “honorable mention”, and most definitely would be on my list along with all of the others on yours.

    A few other comments:

    1) It really is sad (and perhaps telling) that when speaking of Boeing, it’s for passenger models introduced 40 and 50 years ago, 767 and 747, long before the destructive “reverse takeover” (using...

    Great post! Agree across the board, but also agree with other readers that the Boeing 767 at a minimum deserves “honorable mention”, and most definitely would be on my list along with all of the others on yours.

    A few other comments:

    1) It really is sad (and perhaps telling) that when speaking of Boeing, it’s for passenger models introduced 40 and 50 years ago, 767 and 747, long before the destructive “reverse takeover” (using Boeing’s cash to boot - go figure!) in 1998 by what was supposed to be its failed, and vanquished domestic rival, McDonnell Douglas.

    Worse yet, clueless “McBoeing” continues to cling to its catalog of stale, long ago obsolete, also rans like the 737 Max, just as failed McDonnell Douglas did with its DC-9s/MD-80s/MD-87/MD-90s/MD-95 (now 717) and its DC-10s/MD-11s, while Airbus eats its lunch with its A320-family, and especially the A321neo, which includes its own mini-family offering performance (for example, during takeoff), capacity and range versatility that Boeing’s clunky 737-9 and 737-10 MAX simply cannot match.

    And don’t even get me started about the “let’s start a trade war with Canada hoping to kill Bombardier’s C-Series to save our [Stone Age in ‘aviation years’] 737s” debacle that resulted in Airbus taking over that program for a below fire sale price, thereby taking a program offered by badly under-financed, somewhat mismanaged, Bombardier, and handing it over on a silver platter dirt cheap to Airbus, whose since rebranded it as the A220 - that more and more airlines, and passengers, will come to love for the foreseeable future.

    Or how badly the “brilliant minds” at McBoeing pretty much destroyed both the 777, an aircraft that in its original 9-abreast main cabin/economy class configuration was a dream to fly, but at 10-abreast is a crap show so bad, that when being honest, most rational minds agree, most definitely is unsuitable for flights longer than 3-4 hours, let alone the 8-16 hours long, and tortuous, slogs the aircraft is intended to fly.

    Same applies for 9-abreast 787s, which may be a “dream” for those in the pointy end, or perhaps those with sufficient means to buy up to Premium Economy, but otherwise is also a crap show so bad, most main cabin/economy class flyers likely view the 787 less “dreamy” and mostly “nightmarish” given the nearly universal bad reviews among industry experts and ordinary flyers.

    Again, such as shame, since as flying machines, there’s much to admire about Boeing’s widebody, big twins.

    Unfortunately, the insistence on “densifying” (aka cramming in an extra, seat per row in main cabin/economy class that results in an overcrowded row of waaaayy too narrow seats, capped off by preposterously narrow aisles) its marquee widebodies, has also made both of those otherwise perfectly magnificent engineering marvels utter disasters best worth avoiding if one is not flying on an expense account, or lacks the wealth needed to escape those hideous torture chambers.

    2) I’d also give an honorable mention to Airbus’s A330s and 340s, at least for main cabin/economy class flyers with their 8-abreast, 2-4-2 configurations, and on many airlines, 18” wide seats.

    In fact, we still go out of our way to fly A330s (or 767s) as nothing beats the pair of window-aisle seats for long haul flights in economy class, especially if traveling with one’s other half, or others they know.

    As a side-note, although largely gone and for me discovered very late in their scheduled service lives, I’d be remiss if I failed to give a special shout out to the A340, a plane I instantly fell in love with the moment I stepped aboard for the 1st time in Feb, 2018, and flew 3 times in close succession on a trip with 6 flight segments over 2-weeks!

    3) Showing my age (just a little! hehehe), but I’d also be remiss if I failed to note just how gorgeous and exciting to fly, too, the Lockheed L-1011 widebody was in its day.

    A true technological marvel, too, with some engineering innovations outshining even the supersonic Concorde.

    Even better was how often L-1011s operated at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, with Delta, Eastern, TWA and even Air Canada scheduling Lockheed’s magnificent “TriStars” for their flights to/from an airport that most people today likely can’t imagine ever seeing, much less flying, a widebody of any kind at that airport.

    And yet, for decades (1970s, 80s & 90s), if one was heading to/from ATL, BDA, FLL, IAH, MIA, MCO, PBI, STL, YYZ or occasionally TPA, they’d likely find themselves in widebody comfort aboard an L-1011 (or other widebodies, too, including Airbus A-300s, Boeing 767s, or of course, McDonnell Douglas DC-10s at New York’s LGA, where just being aboard an Airbus A220 or 320 nowadays is a “luxury”!)

    4) Finally, a special shout-out must go to my favorite 747 model of them all: the SP (or “Special Performance”).

    Flown just once, from Athens to Johannesburg via Lisbon (during the 1980s, while Apartheid still existed, South African Airlines could not overfly most of the African continent) and in 1st class (I began working at a travel agency at 14), to this day that flight remains the best flight ever.

    There were just 2 of us (me & a friend who’s family lived in South Africa) in the nose of the “Baby 747” for the 1st leg to LIS from ATH, plus a “regular” who boarded in LIS who knew the entire crew, for a total of 3 for the LIS-JNB red eye flight.

    Champagne (and tasty nibbles) flowed nonstop til we caught a few hours’ sleep (“cradle seats” back then!), resuming when we woke up for made to order breakfast as the sun rose before arrival in Johannesburg.

    Like I said, best flight ever!

    Besides, who can deny just how cute those “Baby 747” SPs are?!?!

    A special plane indeed!

  18. Tee Jay

    Ben, you list the E175 as your favorite regional. Have you flown UA's CRJ-550? Having flown as a pax in the front end of both, the CRJ-550 is mighty nice. Cabinets for carry-ons separate first from coach instead of a flimsy curtain, and it's so quiet up there too.

  19. Emily

    Wow. Couldn’t disagree with you more.

    I’d consider the 787 the plane of the future. It is a radical shift in aircraft design and a move towards more electric aircraft design. The A350 is a small step up from the aircraft it replaces.

    The A380 isn’t the most comfortable aircraft in my experience. That also goes to the 787 followed closely by the A350. I find that the higher cabin pressure and the greater...

    Wow. Couldn’t disagree with you more.

    I’d consider the 787 the plane of the future. It is a radical shift in aircraft design and a move towards more electric aircraft design. The A350 is a small step up from the aircraft it replaces.

    The A380 isn’t the most comfortable aircraft in my experience. That also goes to the 787 followed closely by the A350. I find that the higher cabin pressure and the greater humidity in these two aircraft have a significant improvement towards a restful and comfortable journey - at least for me.

  20. Steve

    The winner is the e175 and its not even close. Spacious seats, cant beat the 1-2 in first, no bad economy seats. Huge overhear bins so no fighting or aggressive lining up for boarding to get space, small plane that loads fast so no 1hr boarding process like we always get on the a321.

  21. Felix

    My favorite aircraft from the A320 family is definitely the A321.

    Usually, the legroom at the emergency exits is gorgeous, since they have a real big door not just the window exits.

    1. Steve

      leg room is phenomenal on the "super exit" seats on the a321. However the exit seats are the narrowest in the sky and they are uncomfortable for me and im 5'11 160.

    2. D3kingg

      That mega exit row in the main cabin on the a321neo is awesome. If only they had lie flat seats in first American would kill it on the Hawaiian routes out of PHX and LAX.

  22. Justin

    As @Steve and @Tim Dunn said, my personal list would include the Boeing 767. I love the 2-3-2 layout in economy with only one middle seat. Also how the 767 opened up international routes from major centers to smaller cities. I loved being able to fly non-stop on an AC 767 from LHR to my mid-sized Canadian hometown. The smaller size of the jet meant that it was pretty fast to de-plane too.

  23. Miamiorbust

    You are one of the smartest bloggers around but you pulled together a best-of list without a single reference to the 777, which serves as a backbone of most airline’s Boeing widebody inventory. Hard to believe that was accidental omission. List would feel less like a cheap commercial for airbus if you had ventured a view of 777. Fully agree on A350 vs 787.

  24. Steve

    I would agree with your list, particularly the A350 over the 787. I would include the 767 for it's great layout for economy pax.

  25. Tim Dunn

    I agree with your list, Ben, including the A220
    I have to make room in my list for the 767-300ER mostly because it became the first twin to fragment longhaul routes from traditional hubs. It can and has been configured many ways by its users and was economical and had long legs - 12 plus hour flights were possible - and it is still more comfortable than some larger widebodies by creating a more...

    I agree with your list, Ben, including the A220
    I have to make room in my list for the 767-300ER mostly because it became the first twin to fragment longhaul routes from traditional hubs. It can and has been configured many ways by its users and was economical and had long legs - 12 plus hour flights were possible - and it is still more comfortable than some larger widebodies by creating a more exclusive experience over the quads or the 777/330. As with everything, it has been improved upon by newer models, including with greater speed and fuel efficiency, but the 767 was a highly versatile small widebody for which neither Airbus or Boeing have released a truly competitive replacement.

  26. Henry

    I completely agree with you on this. The only thing I differ a bit is that I don't really see any difference at all between the A320 and B737. They are equally uncomfortable for me. I am not excited at all about A321XLR nor B737 MAX being more common, as long haul routes for me I much prefer widebody aircraft. It's about the experience and for some reason it's a lot cooler flying somewhere exotic in a plane that's not 3-3 layout.

  27. TM

    Like any self-respecting avgeek, I have to agree with the Queen of the Skies! The 747 is iconic and nothing will ever top it.

    As for the A350 vs B787 debate, I'll take the A350. That wing design just looks so cool. Plus, it's a little wider so more comfortable in economy.

    Most underrated modern wide body is probably the A330 family. 2-4-2 in the back is far better than 3-3-3, but it's still big enough up front for a decent business class product.

  28. Radtel

    I think it was 1995 when I had my first trip to the UK (from Vancouver) was on a BA 747. The 747 that we were on had the upper deck for economy and that is were we sat. I guess this layou didn't last long. However, what a treat for us!

  29. Frank

    "In 2023 Airbus will launch the A321XLR, which will be the longest range plane in the world."
    Longest range plane, probably not?
    Perhaps longest range narrowbody plane?

  30. Lukas

    I LOVED A220 on Air Baltic, a surprisingly enjoyable experience in coach! And of course 747-400 on LH in F. When I flew round-trip, out of 16 birds LH had, two of them did NOT have the bed installed next to the seat. Of course, I got this old design on both legs of my trip. I was fuming mad, LOL.

  31. Scott

    Hands down the 747. If I'm alive when it happens (frankly hoping I'm not) I will do everything in my power to be on the last 747 commercial flight, and they will have to PRY me out of the plane.

  32. Mike C

    Nice topic. Like you, Ben, I just like flying, and I'm perfectly happy on a Dash-8 from Canberra to Sydney. I've liked the Airbus birds I've flown on, but I'm not really on one team or the other.

    I love the A380 and will choose one for a long haul trip if I have the option, but I'm nostalgic about the B747, last having a chance to fly on one a couple of years ago...

    Nice topic. Like you, Ben, I just like flying, and I'm perfectly happy on a Dash-8 from Canberra to Sydney. I've liked the Airbus birds I've flown on, but I'm not really on one team or the other.

    I love the A380 and will choose one for a long haul trip if I have the option, but I'm nostalgic about the B747, last having a chance to fly on one a couple of years ago SYD-SFO. Any number of trans-Pacific flights on them before that. The immediate future with QF will be B787s and A330s until the whales are back. There are some Embraer jets on thinner domestic routes here now, so I look forward to checking one out.

  33. D3kingg

    Boeing over Airbus. The French claim their planes are fully automated yet will throw the pilots under the bus anytime they crash.

    The Boeing 787 is the most comfortable for an ultra long haul flight 12+ hours with that double sized lavatory directly behind business class. Although you have to share with premium economy.

    a380 for luxury.

  34. François

    Hahahah, love the A380 looks like an A319 had an allergic reaction line! And yes outside of the Queen, I like flying Airbus more, for the most part.

  35. Andrew-Stuart

    On my first trip to the US in 1990, I flew from LAX to JFK on an American Airlines DC-10. Maybe it was the shiny AA livery at the time, but as a 20 year old backpacking AVGeek, I just thought that the aircraft I flew on, was just about the best livery around for an aircraft, for a guy who was used to the red and white kangaroo livery of QANTAS on a Boeing...

    On my first trip to the US in 1990, I flew from LAX to JFK on an American Airlines DC-10. Maybe it was the shiny AA livery at the time, but as a 20 year old backpacking AVGeek, I just thought that the aircraft I flew on, was just about the best livery around for an aircraft, for a guy who was used to the red and white kangaroo livery of QANTAS on a Boeing 747. And though I've never flown on one, the Lockheed Tristar was a pretty appealing aircraft to watch in the sky as well...

  36. Evan

    For me, it's the 747. I don't know why, but the exterior design looks like a queen. I know the A380 is bigger, but frankly, it looks like a whale on the exterior.

    The other one is the 757. The A320 series and 737 series are like the family car. The 757 is like the sports car. The take off roll in a 757 puts almost all other aircraft to shame IMO.

    1. Ted

      Good call on the 57 takeoff roll. I had forgotten about that, but it’s absolutely true. I will add that a 787 on lightly-fueled domestic hop (DFW-LAX on AA) is also a pin-you-in-your-seat takeoff experience.

    2. D3kingg

      @Ted

      I was on a lightly fueled 787 from LAX to DFW that had a five hour delay at the height of the pandemic. Less than 30 pax and DFW airspace was empty at 11pm. The slam dunk landing from seat 1L was fun.

  37. shoeguy

    Oy, the quality and accuracy of the content in these fluff pieces. First off, the A220 is, as others have pointed out, a Bombardier design. There's very little Airbus in it and no, it's not a mini A350. As to Economy Class on the A380, it depends on who you fly. Ever been on an Air France A380 in coach before they were retired? Not comfortable, not airy, not open at all. The 777 is...

    Oy, the quality and accuracy of the content in these fluff pieces. First off, the A220 is, as others have pointed out, a Bombardier design. There's very little Airbus in it and no, it's not a mini A350. As to Economy Class on the A380, it depends on who you fly. Ever been on an Air France A380 in coach before they were retired? Not comfortable, not airy, not open at all. The 777 is a much better experience overall in the back, save for the 10 across seating most airlines adopted. But you're right about the 320 family vs. the 737. The 320 always has had a larger, wider, higher cabin and feels less claustrophobic. The cabin design has also evolved a bit more than the 737, which remains a 1960's design. Yes on the E175 for sure. The 787, which you don't mention, is a pretty sweet airplane.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ shoeguy -- My claim was simply that the A220 is like the narrow body version of the A350 in terms of the passenger experience (not in terms of design or anything else).

      Regarding the 777, I'd say the "save for the 10 across seating most airlines adopted" is a MAJOR downside.

      And I've written in the past about why I prefer the A350 to the 787. As I explained early on in this post, I'd only be sharing one favorite from within each competitive set.

  38. AJO

    I doubt that the A321XLR will be "the longest range plane in the world". In its class, yes, but it will not be able to beat the 777LR or the A345 range.

  39. John

    Let’s give credit where credit is due with the A220. It’s not a mini-A350. It’s not an Airbus design at all. Bombardier designed a fantastic plane and deserves every bit of credit for it.

    I love the 757. I’m sorry Boeing took it out of production and focused on stretching the 737.

  40. Barry

    The 747 is like Rita Hayworth or Raquel Welch: an absolute beauty from.a bygone age

  41. Lukas

    I personally LOVE the 777-300ER.

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Howard Miller

Great post! Agree across the board, but also agree with other readers that the Boeing 767 at a minimum deserves “honorable mention”, and most definitely would be on my list along with all of the others on yours. A few other comments: 1) It really is sad (and perhaps telling) that when speaking of Boeing, it’s for passenger models introduced 40 and 50 years ago, 767 and 747, long before the destructive “reverse takeover” (using Boeing’s cash to boot - go figure!) in 1998 by what was supposed to be its failed, and vanquished domestic rival, McDonnell Douglas. Worse yet, clueless “McBoeing” continues to cling to its catalog of stale, long ago obsolete, also rans like the 737 Max, just as failed McDonnell Douglas did with its DC-9s/MD-80s/MD-87/MD-90s/MD-95 (now 717) and its DC-10s/MD-11s, while Airbus eats its lunch with its A320-family, and especially the A321neo, which includes its own mini-family offering performance (for example, during takeoff), capacity and range versatility that Boeing’s clunky 737-9 and 737-10 MAX simply cannot match. And don’t even get me started about the “let’s start a trade war with Canada hoping to kill Bombardier’s C-Series to save our [Stone Age in ‘aviation years’] 737s” debacle that resulted in Airbus taking over that program for a below fire sale price, thereby taking a program offered by badly under-financed, somewhat mismanaged, Bombardier, and handing it over on a silver platter dirt cheap to Airbus, whose since rebranded it as the A220 - that more and more airlines, and passengers, will come to love for the foreseeable future. Or how badly the “brilliant minds” at McBoeing pretty much destroyed both the 777, an aircraft that in its original 9-abreast main cabin/economy class configuration was a dream to fly, but at 10-abreast is a crap show so bad, that when being honest, most rational minds agree, most definitely is unsuitable for flights longer than 3-4 hours, let alone the 8-16 hours long, and tortuous, slogs the aircraft is intended to fly. Same applies for 9-abreast 787s, which may be a “dream” for those in the pointy end, or perhaps those with sufficient means to buy up to Premium Economy, but otherwise is also a crap show so bad, most main cabin/economy class flyers likely view the 787 less “dreamy” and mostly “nightmarish” given the nearly universal bad reviews among industry experts and ordinary flyers. Again, such as shame, since as flying machines, there’s much to admire about Boeing’s widebody, big twins. Unfortunately, the insistence on “densifying” (aka cramming in an extra, seat per row in main cabin/economy class that results in an overcrowded row of waaaayy too narrow seats, capped off by preposterously narrow aisles) its marquee widebodies, has also made both of those otherwise perfectly magnificent engineering marvels utter disasters best worth avoiding if one is not flying on an expense account, or lacks the wealth needed to escape those hideous torture chambers. 2) I’d also give an honorable mention to Airbus’s A330s and 340s, at least for main cabin/economy class flyers with their 8-abreast, 2-4-2 configurations, and on many airlines, 18” wide seats. In fact, we still go out of our way to fly A330s (or 767s) as nothing beats the pair of window-aisle seats for long haul flights in economy class, especially if traveling with one’s other half, or others they know. As a side-note, although largely gone and for me discovered very late in their scheduled service lives, I’d be remiss if I failed to give a special shout out to the A340, a plane I instantly fell in love with the moment I stepped aboard for the 1st time in Feb, 2018, and flew 3 times in close succession on a trip with 6 flight segments over 2-weeks! 3) Showing my age (just a little! hehehe), but I’d also be remiss if I failed to note just how gorgeous and exciting to fly, too, the Lockheed L-1011 widebody was in its day. A true technological marvel, too, with some engineering innovations outshining even the supersonic Concorde. Even better was how often L-1011s operated at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, with Delta, Eastern, TWA and even Air Canada scheduling Lockheed’s magnificent “TriStars” for their flights to/from an airport that most people today likely can’t imagine ever seeing, much less flying, a widebody of any kind at that airport. And yet, for decades (1970s, 80s & 90s), if one was heading to/from ATL, BDA, FLL, IAH, MIA, MCO, PBI, STL, YYZ or occasionally TPA, they’d likely find themselves in widebody comfort aboard an L-1011 (or other widebodies, too, including Airbus A-300s, Boeing 767s, or of course, McDonnell Douglas DC-10s at New York’s LGA, where just being aboard an Airbus A220 or 320 nowadays is a “luxury”!) 4) Finally, a special shout-out must go to my favorite 747 model of them all: the SP (or “Special Performance”). Flown just once, from Athens to Johannesburg via Lisbon (during the 1980s, while Apartheid still existed, South African Airlines could not overfly most of the African continent) and in 1st class (I began working at a travel agency at 14), to this day that flight remains the best flight ever. There were just 2 of us (me & a friend who’s family lived in South Africa) in the nose of the “Baby 747” for the 1st leg to LIS from ATH, plus a “regular” who boarded in LIS who knew the entire crew, for a total of 3 for the LIS-JNB red eye flight. Champagne (and tasty nibbles) flowed nonstop til we caught a few hours’ sleep (“cradle seats” back then!), resuming when we woke up for made to order breakfast as the sun rose before arrival in Johannesburg. Like I said, best flight ever! Besides, who can deny just how cute those “Baby 747” SPs are?!?! A special plane indeed!

An_Old_Guy_from_Maryland

You'll be able to tell that I'm an old guy when you look at some of the aircraft on this list: 1) Concorde--Incomparable! I have had hanging on my wall for 29 years my pair of framed flight certificates signed by the captains of my IAD-LHR round trip. Was able to walk up to the cockpit and talk to the flight crew and video tape it. Going over there were only 14 people on the plane (just before Christmas). Digital readout of airspeed and altitude on the bulkhead was great! 2) Lockheed Electra--fast, powerful, smooth flying four-engine turboprop with big windows! 3) 747--while it started the industry down the path to today's cattlecar aircraft, it was, as many here have said, The Queen of the Skies. 4) L1011--the most comfortable widebody I've ever flown on (I judge all widebodies from the coach section--I haven't had the $$$ or miles to fly in first) 5) 727QC--island hopping across the Pacific on Air Micronesia. Cargo up front and boarding and deplaning via the DB Cooper stairs! 6) Lockheed Constellation--Triple tailed beauty even though my only experience on this aircraft was on a second section of Eastern's DCA-EWR shuttle (yes, for a while they had an every other hour DCA-EWR and hourly BOS-EWR shuttle in addition to the hourly LGA service).

Steve

The winner is the e175 and its not even close. Spacious seats, cant beat the 1-2 in first, no bad economy seats. Huge overhear bins so no fighting or aggressive lining up for boarding to get space, small plane that loads fast so no 1hr boarding process like we always get on the a321.

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