Best aircraft types

As you may know, the 747 was the focus of my previous role here at Boeing. So I know it’s a pretty special airplane. And now the readers of Global Traveler have cast their votes in favor of the Queen of the Skies as the “best” aircraft type.


The Dreamliner-inspired interior for the 747-8 Intercontinental graces the cover of Global Traveler’s “The Best in Travel” edition. (Click on the image to go to a pdf of the article.)

These “well-traveled readers” made their choices known on a variety of “bests.”

Chosen best airline in the world, for example: Singapore Airlines. Best airline for international first class: Emirates. Best airline for domestic first class: American Airlines. Best airline for business class: British Airways.

You can check out the entire survey here. There’s a lot of interesting material there. But for me, the most significant result is in the selection of the top-10 best aircraft types. It’s the first year that Global Traveler has asked readers to vote on the airplanes they fly.

Of the top-10 aircraft named as “best” by GT readers, the Boeing 747 and 777 were the number 1 and 2 choices, respectively.


The 747-8 Intercontinental. The “best” airplane, even better.


This is a digital depiction of the latest interior architecture of the 747-8 at the door 2 entry. It’s designed to welcome you into a comfortable space. The arching entry, with warm tones and soft LED lighting gives a sense of openness. The stairs invite passengers into “a private jet” that is the premium space of the upper deck.

The 747, the magazine writes, “continues to lend itself well to the redesigned cabins imposed on it as airlines upgrade their offerings.”

The 767 ranked as 4th best, with the 757, 737, and MD-80 rounding out the 6th through 8th spots. As the magazine puts it, “Boeing dominated the list.”

Comments (13)

Chris C (South Africa):

The Boeing 747-8I and -8F clearly continues the proud and mighty legacy of the greatest commercial airplane ever built; the formidable Boeing 747. Over nearly four decades since the advent of the true jumbo-jet, the 747-100, the 747 airplane has stood the test of time and proved time and time again that it holds unique capabilities that have always made it the pinnacle of airborne elegance and excellence.

Of course, both the 747-8 and the super-jumbo Airbus A380 are awe inspiring airplanes, and both of them have distinctly different roles to fulfill in the 400seat and larger airplane category. Where the -8I will be the most fuel-efficient and cost-effective airplane to operate in the large airplane sector, and offer lower risks/higher reward approach, by design she is destined to fulfill the vital role of a niche market airplane in the 400seat to 500seat category.

The A380, also offering compelling economics, is set to rule the 500seat and larger market. These two airplanes are set to complement each other at a handful of airlines and at the same time, offer different solutions for airlines opting for just one type of 747-400 replacement airplane and thus become rivals.

It is exceptionally boring, and at the same time amusing, to read the continued ‘war-of-words’ from Airbus regarding the 747-8I being ‘40-year old technology’. No one will dispute that the -8 builds off the phenomenal platform that was first conceived in the late 1960s, but there is no technology from 40 years ago flying on the -8.

The basic design of the 747 is a technological marvel. Aerodynamics have not changed over 40-years...air is air. The 747 fuselage is a proven design that is highly effective and efficient, and offers compelling capabilities and design potentials. What is interesting is that 40-years on, the 747 still is the fastest commercial subsonic airplane, with a Mmo Mach0.92 With the 747-8, the 747 will remain the fastest subsonic commercial airplane. From nose to tail, the 747-8 is virtually an all-new airplane...just sporting the ageless silhouette of the 747.

Whilst Airbus’s feathers are ruffled by the new 747-8 offering exceptionally compelling economics and naturally have the right to challenge the figures from Boeing, I would feel that Airbus, a technologically advanced and professional company as well, is rather childish to resort to pathetic comments such as ’40-year old technology’. It’s time they back up their claims, which they have not, nor can do!!

Lovely picture of the all-new door 2 entry into the -8I! All the best with your on-going sales campaigns to sell many, many more of the best airplane in the world. 747.

Paul (New York, NY):

Randy, there are a lot of people rooting for you to keep the Queen of the skies up there for another 30 years but how come you're not selling any 747-Intercontinentals?

Ed (Ireland):

A pleasant surprise to see the 747 voted top passenger plane, especially since it offers the smallest economy class seats of any plane on the list. I would have voted for the 777 or A340 as being the most enjoyably experience to fly on. Neither have the 'wow factor' of the jumbo though. I expect that the A380 will end up as the most liked passenger aircraft when it enters service with more airlines.


''Whilst Airbus’s feathers are ruffled by the new 747-8 offering exceptionally compelling economics and naturally have the right to challenge the figures from Boeing, I would feel that Airbus, a technologically advanced and professional company as well, is rather childish to resort to pathetic comments such as ’40-year old technology’. ''

Chris, I'm a big 747 fan but unfortunately sales figures say more than marketing ever could.

Chris C (South Africa):

Ed, give it time buddy. The winds are changing. The 747-8I will garner many more orders from a few blue-chip airlines. The -8I was never going to be a 'barn-burner' in terms of orders in the first place either...

G (France):

to Ed (Ireland) and Chris C (South Africa)

The truth is that the market for 450+ seat airplane is very small. In the past, many of the 747-400 were sold for the range.

Today, efficient and smaller twin-engined airplanes like the 777-200LR, 777-300ER, 787-9 and 787-8 can fly 747-400's range more efficiently.

There are more and more Air Service Agreements (aka "Openskies") that will deeply modify the air transport landscape. Airlines will have to be more versatile, more flexible and more agile. Mid-sized airplanes offer this flexibility.

By the way, the US-EU Opensky agreement will take effect in a few days (March 30, 2008).

I am not saying that there is not any market for 450+ seat airplanes. There is a market for large airplanes but it is a niche market for high-density-trunk-routes.

The 747-8 Intercontinental will be in this small market. It is indeed difficult for the 747-8i to be highly profitable by its own. Its freighter brother, the 747-8F, will improve the average margin over the 747-8 program.

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

I also think that once the A380 enters service with more airlines, its ranking should improve in such surveys.

But I also think that after Boeing launched the 21st century 747 in 2005 after considerable and much ridiculed effort, it had to have been very serious about the plane. So much so that we, the armchair analysts, ain't seen nothing yet.

Onto 40-year dinosaurs. Competitors that can only and will always point to the heritage of rival programs inadvertently say a lot about their own programs. Oohh, at number 7, it looks like that "Guppy and Fat Albert" beat its chief rival - again. Sure the A320 is slightly wider than the 737 - but in this game, punctuality is key. It (the 737, of course) is also lighter than the rival (a good Boeing habit) - so it also makes the airlines happy - burning less on fuel. (Note that there are more A320 Family-member jets in commercial airline service than the NG737 Family - because it entered service ten years earlier.)

Seat Width. Aircraft such as the longer-range 777-300ER and the A340-600 (growth or stunt version?) entered service at considerably later dates than the 747-400 and thus, naturally, have more advanced technology, lower fuel burn and so on. Airlines flying these types will aim them at large legacy carriers because of the considerable effort it takes to modify the cabins of very large airliner fleets to current standards. And that's the impression you get. It's called timing.

Sales Figures. So the 747 has low passenger sales. Boeing always said that the 747-and-larger market was limited. The all-new Airbus A380 is not breaking any particular sales records - is its sales impressive and spectacular - and worthy of my bean counting?

Let's see: Launch: December 20th, 2000. Sales up to December 31st, 2007 are less than 200. Averaged over 20 years - less than 580 units - incidentally just enough to break even. Count the 747 sales over the same period - okay, so the lower tech passenger 747-400 lost out against the A380 and other current planes. But heck, on freighters, the 747 BEAT the A380... Damn, Boeing, you should be ashamed of yourselves - it took forty years for you to deliver on those original forecasts:)

I like the A380, more than I did before. But I much prefer the 747. Now that a "new" version of that other very successful 40-year Boeing lineage is due for flight tests just around the corner, I'm watching, waiting patiently.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

I am glad the 747 is at the top of the list, I think
people like how wide and comfortable the plane is
with it's space advantage of it's near vertical
interior walls in the cabin.

I hope all is done to market the 747-8I to prospective customers, this plane may certainly be a size complement between the A380-800 and the 777-300ER plus no special reconfiguration is needed for most if not nearly all of the 747 gates.

It was no surprise that the 777 was the second choice
for customers as it has a wide cabin and seats in economy 3+3+3 configuration that most airlines have chosen or reconfigured their cabin to. Airlines certainly love the 777 because it is long range machine somewhat to the detriment of the 747, it is easier to maintain, a simpler landing gear no center gear with the extra weight, and it is more adaptable to airline configuration. Probably one of the biggest attributes the 777 today is that over 1,000 have sold and is still in a high rate of production, It has beaten the A330-300 and A340 series hands down.

With the 767 at fourth place and still in production after twenty-seen years this otherwise bland looking airliner that resembles a flying tank car is popular with the passengers, this is the only Boeing widebody that I have ever flown in and I like the performance, the takeoff even with the full load was sporty I could definitely feel the acceleration and unstick on the takeoff role. Even with the production of the 787 I think their is still a market for the small widebody like the 767, not bad.

It is too bad that the 757 after twenty-one years of
production, the market for new 757's was not sufficient to keep it in production. The 757 was a jet that had the range and engines of a widebody, had the field performance of a much smaller airliner, and had the looks that like a car, people deem sexy.

The A320 got its expletive handed to its self as
passengers picked the slightly narrower cabin of the 737 over the newer and wider 320, must be the extra head space on the 737 on seats A to F that the Airbus does not have much of.

I think Douglas had in mind what the passengers wanted when they designed the MD-80 and in extent the DC-9 family including the 717.

I find it odd that the A340 and the A330 rate differently from each other, they both have the same fuselage and cabin.

Though the study was taken just as the A380 went into service it will beat every Airbus and be competitive with the 747. But I think the 787 will be the most liked airliner in the future with it's long range capability, quiet interior, and the large windows, but I think the A350 wont be far behind.

I was happy to read that Long Beach Airport was mentioned as a favorite airport as I am from long Beach. LGB is literally down the street from Disneyland, start at Donald Douglas Drive, that turns to Wardlow, connects to my house, that turns to Ball and turn right before the bridge and you find one of the parking lots to Disneyland in Anaheim.

Phil (Wokingham UK):

Having ploughed long haul skies more years than I care to remember from piston Avro Yorks, DC6's, Turboprop Britannia's,through the VC10/DC8/707 era & thirty odd years of widebodies.

Hands up I cannot disagree with the concensus toward the 747 which held my preferred aircraft choice for many years, time moves on & some 747 airframes today seem somewhat tired, despite airline embroidery cabins strain to look fresh, it's extraordinary to see the cabin quality differential often within the same airline, BA (British Airways) take note. The 777 just does not have the cabin presence of the 747 & as for the 767 I'm sorry not at all....

Our current preferred choice for a more intimate & passenger friendly cabin environment is the A330/40/60 series which with the exception of the A380 in our book win's the prize for the quietest & friendliest widebody cabin flying, across all it's varients. My wife also swears she suffers less from compression problems during ascent & descent, women....

With it's rave passenger reviews were itching to fly the A380 to Australasia, but until SA get the fare structure competitive we'll wait for Emirates or Qantas's offering.

Roger Wallace (Palmdale, CA 93591):

On the lighter side.


Can’t doesn’t do anything and Won’t never will.
Yet Will finds a way and runs into problems that may cause delay.
Delay causes problems while Goals point the way.
Experience solves problems and causes reflections to say
It may have been Training that saved us today.
But Planning showed shortcuts that smoothed out the way.
Worst case locates problems before they rise up and may
provide solutions that sweeten the cup.

Ralph (San Diego, CA):

I was just looking at the updates at The latest interior design of the 7478i is alot different than the renderings above. They seem to have gone back to the "old" 777 interior. Gone are the larger 787-like windows.
They are now replaced with current 747400 windows w/ pull shades! How last century! What are they thinking? Does anyone know anything about this?


747-8, i like it. i think it is the best airplane in the world

christopher nelson onugha (lagos,lagos,nigeria):

I love the Boeing 747 well - I wish to board the aircraft if it is going to be the last thing I'll do on earth.

Anand Madan (Parlin, NJ - 08859):

747 Passenger Aircraft

I flown on 747 many times between JFK - DEL - JFK as well as SIN - NRT - JFK. It is a real fun to fly on this plane.

I feel real sad that all US carriers fazed out all 747 and they are no where to be seen at least in east coast( sometime LH/AI/LY/AF fly to EWR). I work for major US Carrier at EWR. My company don't believe in 747 and they have none. My company fly daily non stop
daily with 777. 777 may be a long range aircraft but for 7000 miles flight have serious flaws. During adverse situation Dump passenger/Bags/NON Reves. and so on.

747is the only aircraft which can meet the challenge to fly between EWR - BOM , or EWR - SYD with full load.

I request the Chairman of Boeing that he must apply his full might to make sure that US carriers keep on using 747. it may be a crusade. But 747 is the flagship of Boeing Corporation. Boeing should not let it die.


Make a Mini 747 with 4 engines. I will be the first one to book a Rev. seat.

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