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!
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Even in economy the 2-2 layout is pleasant, since there are no middle seats.
While I’d usually try to avoid regional jets, the Embraer E175 is one plane I don’t mind flying, even on longer flights.
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?