To know your plane is very important for the quality trip you’re going on. It can easily be done when you’re going to select a flight and buy a ticket.
The search option by most airlines will help you choose the desired plane and desired seat on the plane. The following are the most important things to consider while choosing your air travel services and plane, keeping in line with your comforts and budget:
Noise causes a nuisance to the passengers, especially if you’re looking for some rest. Jet-noise problems are most severe in planes with rear-mounted engines, where noise in the last few rows can truly be offensive.
- Favor: A380s and 787s, with their latest-generation engines.
- Avoid: Seats far to the rear, especially in the last three to four rows in MD80s and MD90s, and the last two to three rows in smaller regional jets.
In general, the bigger the plane, the less bumpy the ride will be. Jumbo jets are like big cruise ships: relatively smooth even in rough air. Choose bigger planes and always look for the better travel options when considering your budget.
- Favor: A380s, 747s, and 787s are more favorable.
- Avoid: Small regional jets and turboprop are less favorable.
The latest generation of jets — the 787 and soon-to-come A350 — provide lower cabin altitudes and higher humidity than older models. You’ll notice the difference if you have a long flight for your vacation.
- Favor: 787s and A350s instead of other planes.
Seating space varies from older to newer planes. Unlike front-to-rear space, side-to-side seat spacing on most planes does depend on airplane model. There are airline-to-airline differences in the number of seats per row, and therefore, width on two wide-body planes.
- Favor: 18-inch (or better) nine-across seats on 777 and eight across seats on 787.
- Avoid: 17-inch 10-across seats on 777 and nine across seats on 787; especially avoid a few foreign A330/340 models.
Overhead bin space is another important factor to know before booking a plane. It is the potential travel factor while sitting in the plane and enjoying your space.
It varies mainly by plane model, but occasionally by airline as well. Unfortunately, we know of no online source of detailed data on bin design and space. In general, however, newer plane models have larger bins.
Entertainment is a vital part to look into, even features such as on demand, multichannel TV, and movies. Older planes have pre-loaded tablets, TV having limited program choice and timing, while newer planes have a stronger TV offering. No airlines provide entertainment on MD80/90 while some airlines provide no entertainment on their smaller short-haul mainline planes. Likewise, only a few regional jets have entertainment.
Power outlets are in demand from today’s airlines due to the increased use of tablets and mobiles. Most new planes provide standard plug-in AC power in limited seats while older planes provide low-voltage DC, a USB connection, or automobile type socket. Most of the travelers want to connect to the Internet, play games, do corporate work, etc. while still having an acceptable mobile battery. So choose your plane wisely if this is important to you.
Due to the strong use of the Internet, WiFi availability is vital for every passenger on board. Fortunately, there is competition among airlines to provide better Internet speed and bandwidth. Alaska, Delta, Jet Blue, and Virgin America are among the emerging airlines to provide fleet-wide WiFi. There are some websites showing the airline/plane combinations providing WiFi. However, they do not differentiate between limited and high-bandwidth.
Airlines in North America offer a “semi-premium” option: three to five inches of extra pitch. True premium requires a maximum of seven seats per row in A330/340, A380 upper deck, and 787, and eight seats per row in 747 and 777. Some airlines do even better. Open Skies is the only carrier (as we know) that offers true premium economy in a 757, at four-across.
Different airlines use differing approaches to layout. Nowadays, a flatbed is becoming the competitive norm — Delta, for example, is 100 percent flatbed.
Paying a fortune for a “business class” seat on a red-eye flight that does not lie flat at all? On a few airlines, including Copa, Iceland air, and most of the long-haul low-fare airlines based in Europe; you will find it.
You can find most of the airplanes on several online sources. A complete coverage is on a site; Seat Guru, which shows seat plans, dimensions, in-flight entertainment, power availability, WiFi availability, and seat recline. It also highlights “bad” seats. If Seat Guru lists any airline you’re considering, you need to go no further. Other online seat sources include Seat Expert, Seat Maestro, and Seat Plans.