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You know that sinking feeling… when you step onto the plane, turn to go down the aisle and realize you’re about to be flying on an old, clunky bird with sticky tray holders and no entertainment options. It’s the worst! But there is something you can do about it. Price is obviously a crucial factor in determining which flight you’re going to book, as is your allegiance to a specific carrier for points or miles. However, there’s one more factor that should be guiding your flight selection during the decision making process: aircraft type. The type of plane, particularly the newer models, can make a world of difference in your flying experience and leave you feeling better and ready to take on your destination upon touchdown. When you’re searching for flights on Orbitz, click the details and take a peek at what type of bird you could be flying. Below, we’ve laid out 7 reasons why aircraft type matters.

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airplane wing


Let’s get the scariest one out of the way. No one likes turbulence, and if they do, a tip of our hat to them. But for the majority of us, turbulence can take time off our life due to sheer anxiety. In the case of turbulence, the newer the aircraft the better because of the advancements in engineering and aerodynamic design. But, if you really want to avoid turbulence, it’s equally important to choose a larger aircraft. Planes like the Boeing 777 and 787 or Airbus A380 or A350 are larger, long haul planes where passengers feel significantly fewer bumps in sky. Avoid the smaller regional jets with the 1 X 2 or 2 X 2 seat configurations.

No smoking sign Mounted above the head in the aircraft cabin.

Air quality

Air circulation plays a much larger role in your flying experience than you might think. Poor circulation can lead to more stagnant air and the transmission of germs. Most commercial aircraft fly at such high altitudes the air is too thin to breathe, so additional air is pumped into the cabin. In what is known as the “bleed air” system, air is sucked in through engines, filtered, and then pumped into the cabin. Newer models have more effective and efficient filtration systems, but even still, the idea of getting air through the jet engine is kind of gross and can’t be beneficial to your health. Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is one of the first aircraft not to pump in air from the jet engine and, therefore, not subject to the same vapors and fumes.

Close-up of engine and main landing gear of passenger airplane


When we recently took off on the Airbus A380, it was so quiet we had to look around to confirm that we were actually in the process of taking off. How often does that happen? Never. The two giants of aircraft engine manufacturing are General Electric and Rolls Royce. Both have put out some excellent latest-generation engines in the last few years. Not only are these engines more fuel efficient, but they significantly reduce the roar you hear in the cabin. The Boeing vs. Airbus debate is never-ending, but when it comes to a quiet ride, Airbus usually wins in that department.

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Woman is sleeping in the aircraft


For most of us, the best way to get through a flight is to sleep. When you’re barreling through the sky in a vessel at 500+ miles per hour and 37,000 feet above ground, it’s not always the easiest thing to do. Choosing a Boeing 737-900 versus a Boeing 737-700, can mean the difference of a quieter ride, sturdier head rests, better air quality and calming mood lighting. Boeing’s 787 long haul aircraft has dimmers on the windows, which you can adjust to your desired shade of relaxing blue. Larger, long haul aircraft have a greater likelihood of extra pillows and blankets on board, too.

Commercial Passenger Jet Airplane Overhead Luggage Storage Compartment Bins

Overhead bin space

Are you headed to a city that’s less than a three-hour flight away? Chances are there are some Embraer, Canadair or Bombardier aircraft to choose from. As noted, these smaller regional planes can be more cramped and bumpy. Some won’t even fit your larger sized carry-ons. So before you board with the hopes of keeping your suitcase with you, only to find it doesn’t fit above, check to see if there are any mid-range or larger aircrafts to choose from that day. It will save those with carry-on items a lot of time and frustration!

Using Inflight Entertainment on a Plane

Entertainment, power outlets and Wi-Fi

Most major airlines are working to outfit their entire fleet with Wi-Fi and better entertainment amenities, even the old birds. The newer planes obviously have the most advanced technologies, but trying to guess which older planes have been upgraded can be difficult. Take a quick look on websites like to see the exact details of your potential aircraft. This site will have all the details on your exact aircraft, as well as comments from passengers who have flown on the exact aircraft. Sometimes a plane’s economy seating does not have outlets, but it’s premium economy does. It may be worth the extra $65 bucks or so to upgrade, so you can get all your work done or binge watch your favorite TV series without running out of battery.

Airplane seats

Seat comfort

The battle of airplane seat size usually comes down to either 17 or 18 inches. While one inch doesn’t seem like much, I think we can all agree, any little bit we can get on plane, we’ll take. Unfortunately seat size isn’t consistent across aircraft types. Carriers outfit their interior cabins in different ways. But a quick look at the aircraft details on your carrier’s website will allow you to determine how many inches you’ll be looking to enjoy. For those in Business or First Class, seating can really vary by aircraft, especially if you’re flying cross country. These routes have a whole range of aircraft types, from small to large, that make the journey on a daily basis. Picking a larger, well-configured aircraft can mean the difference of having a nice lie-flat bed versus a simple reclining chair. That’s definitely worth looking into before you choose to “Book Now.”


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3 thoughts on “7 reasons why aircraft type matters”

  1. Flew to london on a new 787. Most cramped uncompfortable ride . Seats push back side forward causing sore back. Also no legroom from seat in front and seam narrow( might be my backside). Airbus for the return much better.

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