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Are bigger jets the answer for congested airports and airline rising costs?

To address congested airports, increased costs, a pilot shortage, and high demand, airlines are turning to larger planes to fit more passengers on board. According to aviation data firm Cirium, the 11 largest U.S. airlines had an average of over 153 seats on domestic flights in 2020, compared to almost 141 seats in 2017. ( More...

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Stephen Donnelly 10
A larger jet to me is a twin aisle, not a single aisle like the A321
srobak 2
I agree with you in part - but the number of seats difference between a 320 vs. a 321 is anywhere from 25-44 seats depending on config - it is technically a larger plan. That change alone can certainly help.
Shenghao Han 9
There is a reason why Japan and China flies large 747 between major cities. Japan used to fly 747-400D
Even today you can find Air China flying 777 and 747-8i between Beijing and Shanghai a trip only abit over 4 hours in flight time.
CA1521 on May 11 2023 is just a such flight.
Shenghao Han 2
I got the information from ticket agent site but they indeed used a 747 on May 6th (same flight number). They seems also used 773 , 77W and A359 all are really big planes that usually only seen on international flights elsewhere.
James Cox 2
United flies 777 between Denver and Houston several times a day.
arfadaily 15
Oh the irony of it. Get rid of a wonderful machine like the 747 all over the world, then just as you get to the point of tearing the last ones apart, find that aircraft of this size are actually needed in the system. You couldn't make it up ...
SF3aviatrix 3
A 400+ pax 747 isn't really "needed" these days. The footprint is also a gate space problem, fuel efficiency and extra mx cost killed the queen. Increased capacity via A321XLR & Max jets are the way airlines are increasing seats while keeping costs down.
srobak 3
I have yet to fly on a 400+ seat aircraft that wasn't completely sold out.
arfadaily 2
Once or twice in 40+ years of flying trans Atlantic 747s ...
Eric Hillerton 1
Just had 50 on A380 Heathrow to Dubai.
David Beattie 0
Ha! The airlines should pay you to fly around on their wide bodies! Like a full load good luck charm.
srobak 1
Keep it up...
srobak 1
Dafuq? Keep it up, swizzlestick.
James Cox 1
The 747 actually has a low cost per seat mile ratio, the problem is most airlines weren't able to fill them up.
arfadaily 3
I don't recall it ever being a problem before New World Order tried to stop everyone flying. Transatlantic 747 flights that I went on were always full because of the longstanding relationships between the primary carriers and their partner airlines which functioned as seat-feeders from their home countries
Nathan Cox 4
Seems that the idea of less aircraft at the ramp and less "time slots" into large airports have now become a factor. Sure, smaller aircraft and more frequent service is nice for passengers, but if you can run a larger aircraft and not have so many landing fees and other costs that are fixed, that could be better in some cases. There is a case for both large and small aircraft depending on the route.
aurodoc 4
I guess I would need to understand the efficiency data of whether a a larger plane makes better economic sense or not. Is it actually cheaper to fill a 777 to run once every 3 hours vs. flying a 737 once an hour? Someone obviously knows the revenue per seat to determine the cost benefit when factoring in crew and fuel costs.
Craig Coburn 0
Craig Coburn 1
Account works. Sorry for spam. Wanted to say that all the data we need is the fact that the 747 and short lived A380 are no longer produced.
darryl wilson 3
Larger jets also have increased service and turn times. In the USA, our passengers expect a certain level of comfort and haven’t overpopulated tot he point of just jamming them in.. although we are headed that way. My vote.. keep the American comfort culture and size aircraft to the is current practice on some airlines. It seems everyone can dunk these days.. (Bigger seats) so, seat spacing and pitch research is ongoing. With the advent of certain eco-fuels, the transport cost is somewhat mitigated to keep the right airplanes in the right market. We will need more pilots and pilot training to be modified into the next gen system that can handle the increase in air traffic in destinations and frequency to handle population growth. With all factors considered, bigger airplanes are not the answer in the domestic market. We need more pilots who have experience, so keep the senior pilots onboard will give a stop gap solution while they also help train the junior less experienced pilots. When I am riding in the back of the airplane.. I want that comfort not only in the seat I am sitting in, but peace of mind that someone up in the flight deck has at least learned from someone who flew during 9-11, Covid, and maybe a military skirmish or stand-off..
Am I asking too much? I don’t think so.
patrick baker 3
wrong sized airliners are all over the system now. and many aircraft are stored that have needed capacity, just lousy fuel burn on top of that.
Ed Allen 4
Why not! There’s common sense to a lot of these questions. Yes…. Bigger plane….more people. Less crew.
srobak 2
Been saying that for many years. And not to the tune of putting widebodies in place of current A32x and 737s where things like gate space would be an issue (though I also remember back in the day where the gates weren't so packed so they could all accommodate larger aircraft).

LIved in and flew out of ORD and MDW a couple times a month for almost 15 years. Could not understand why United and AA would fly 3-5 embraers each in a 2 hour span to the same mid/large airport destinations instead of 2 73's or A320s in a 3 to 4 hour span. Just made no sense to me - and there is no possible way it is cheaper. More pilots, more crew, more points of maintenance and failure, more opportunities for backups/delays/missed connections, more congestion on the ground and at the gate. Just nonsensical.

Smaller aircraft should be reserved for smaller airports. Period. Not between mids and majors.
Raphael Solomon 2
No, the point of having small planes fly is to have more frequent flights. As a solution, I prefer using smaller airports.
srobak 3
Don't need more frequent flights between major and mids. Need larger flights.

As I mentioned elsewhere - United & AA each sending 3-5 erjs & crjs between ORD and DAL in a 2 hour window is just stupid. It ties up the taxiway runways and ramps, it ties up the gates both inside and out, it increases the necessary pilot count, it increases the necessary crew count, it increases ground crew count, it increases the volume and frequency of maintenance and mechanical issues, it increases the number of missed connections, and a slew of other things.

What makes more sense between major and mid size airports? 15-20 sold out regional jets between the same sources and destinations in an 8 hour period, or 4-5 737s or 320s each at 2-3x capacity of the regionals over the same 8 hour span?
No, they aren't the answer.

An A380 can't get into Midway Airport, or most of the smaller fields, and neither can the venerable and now discontinued Boeing 747.

You need the:
Right Ship for
The Right Passenger Traffic
at The Right Cost.

Southwest has the best working model.
SkyAware123 1
Pretty sure they're talking about switching to wide bodies more. But eventually, at current expected growth, yes they will need planes the size of an a380 or even bigger.
Maru Leopardeyes 2
After having recently flown 8 transcon flights on the A321neo at full capacity, I still feel that comfort-wise the 757 was a better aircraft for passengers.
Gary Bain 3
The 757 was better at everything!
SF3aviatrix 2
"Bigger jets" meaning the AB321Neo and Max 9+ versus the CRJ and EMB175? Yes.
flyingtrainguy 1
What is old is new again. Just change the date to immediately before Airbus a380's release and you'd find the same story.
SkyAware123 1
well duh....
SkyAware123 1
I can even see flights being done that don't have a schedule on really busy stretches. Flights won't leave till it's full.... or max amount of time sitting (and getting a slot). like trains. ofcourse this would require changes in terminals. But with current growth it might happen.
Jimmy Schottel 1
Will make runways better but the gate areas which are already disasters will become even worse.
srobak 1
how? by every sense it will actually make them better.
linbb 1
Having reliever airports was proposed in WA state using shuttle type of service from there to other destinations. One in point was Moses Lake WA receiving passengers who would have gone to SeaTac in Seattle and then transferred to other flights and there final destination. Thus taking 747 and 380 aircraft and passengers away from a congested airport. This fell apart when county commissioners on the Moses Lake/ Grant County end voted no on trying it.
Nathan Cox 1
Grant County is just too far removed from west of the mountains for people to agree to this. Paine field in Everett could work, but even that is showing marginal appeal. These types of programs work only when forced on us by planning officials. People want to fly into the main areas of a given metropolis.
D Chambers 1
Agree. Like Phoenix, for example.


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