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Anecdotal: People Don't Know What Plane They're On  
User currently offlineWearyBizTrvlr From Netherlands, joined May 2004, 58 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 1 month 17 hours ago) and read 5817 times:

One of the recurring themes here on a.net is the topic which aircraft you prefer to fly. At some point during the (heated) debate, someone will invariably point out that most passengers likely don't know and don't care what aircraft type they're on, as long as they get from A to B.

Although this admission may get be banned, I sometimes don't know what aircraft I am on either, or can't remember.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy But I do fly a lot, and so do many of my colleagues. I asked some of them recently (inspired by the debates here) whether they knew what kind of aircraft they'd last been on, or if we're flying together what aircraft we are on at the time.

I asked three colleagues, each of whom rack up more than 100 sectors a year, so they qualify as frequent flyers. The conclusion of my admittedly unscientific poll is that they have no idea. On one flight, a colleague told me that we're on an Airbus, because while boarding he looked into the cockpit and saw the CRTs rather traditional instruments. And even then he had no idea what type it was... But by and large, there is little awareness amongst them of what aircraft they're on, and when asked for preferences between one or the other, they came up blank.

Same applies to me, incidentally. I have a slightly greater interest in these matters, but if you ask me for a preference between a B737 and A320, I would have no idea. I recently flew a two-leg trip with LH, first being on a 737, the second on a 319 (I only know this because I was paying attention), and the interiors were identical. Same gray leather Recaro seats, same layout, etc. If I hadn't focused on it, I wouldn't have noticed.

Obviously, this is not a conclusive passenger survey, and could be biased by any number of things. My colleagues and I tend to be rather caught up with work, meaning we pay less attention to the flying. It could also be the case that people who fly very rarely will be more aware of what aircraft they're in, because it's new and exciting to them, whereas my sample group takes flying for granted. And the sample size is very small indeed.

Nonetheless, I thought I'd post it here to shed some outside perspective on this.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Trudging around the world from AMS
36 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineLeskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 69
Reply 1, posted (11 years 1 month 17 hours ago) and read 5726 times:

On one of my last transatlantic flights on an A340 a passenger sitting accross the aisle from me explained to his kid that we were flying on a Boeing, since everyone knew that Airbus only makes twin-engined airplanes...

It's a fact - most people really don't care, and most wouldn't know from seeing the "name" (i.e. 737, 320, ...) on the safety card if it is an Airbus or a Boeing.

For most people, it's the price that counts... after that, it's the airline... after that, it's - after a very long period of nothing, the airplane.

So, WearyBizTrvlr, I absolutely and fully agree with you and the results of your poll.


Smile - it confuses people!
User currently offlineSquirrel83 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (11 years 1 month 16 hours ago) and read 5709 times:

I used to love listening to the people (THE PAX) coming down the jetway taking a guess at what type of aircraft they (THE PAX) were about to fly on. . "Is it a big one or small; is it old or new; ect ect . .

I know whenever I get on a plane I usually know the type of plane from the interior, or basicly watching out the window, but I always wonder what type of Layout the aircraft has . . and Engine type, and How each airline does things diffrently once onboard . .
Fun Fun ~

[Edited 2004-07-04 12:58:34]

User currently offlineBostonguy From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 514 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (11 years 1 month 16 hours ago) and read 5681 times:

I always note what type aircraft I'm on. I also always read the aircraft safety card and note the series-type of the aircraft. Usually I try to see what brand of engines are used. I get worse... I also memorize how many rows there are to the nearest emergency exit ahead of me and behind me, how to open those exits, and how to inflate the slide/life raft!

It does grate when I hear people utter comments such as:

"It has two aisles... must be a 747"

"It has one aisle... must be a 757"

"There are planes with only 2 engines?"


User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (11 years 1 month 15 hours ago) and read 5659 times:

I must admit I only know a few plane types just by looking at them. Different series numbers (eg 737-300 / 737-600) I have little clue, except for 747s!

Reminds me of a mother at DEN telling her young kids to watch the BA 747 that was coming in to the gate - it was a 777-200 - but I didn't have the heart to tell her!

It may sound strange, but the easiest way I find on board to tell A or B is to look at the seat number signs. Airbus have these little things that stick out (and illuminate?) whereas Boeing ones are printed.

Geoff M.

User currently offline767-332ER From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 2030 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (11 years 1 month 15 hours ago) and read 5648 times:

Last time I was at the airport waiting calmy for my flight to board...DL 108 ATL-MAD, our 767 was sitting at the gate. It was ship N198DN I believe...can't remember. Anyways, there was a group of about 5 people, all of one family and the woman was that typical fat woman that thinks she knows it all...anyways, she gets up to the window, in front of me, blocking my view and telling her kids about the ground crews...talking as loud as the people down the terminal to hear her when she suddenly screams out that the plane has a huge dent in it!!! I mean, this woman was loud and obnoxious and her husband came to the window and she pointed out that there was a dent where the "other wings" were...I suddenly got up and looked out and told her that the dent was there to allow the mobility of the horizontal stabilizer to move up and down as it helps with trim...etc...etc...Should have seen her face...Then I told her to mind how she talks and specially if she knows nothing about a certain issue...screaming something that is not true.

Twinjets...if one fails, work the other one twice as hard!!!
User currently offlineBackfire From Germany, joined Oct 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (11 years 1 month 15 hours ago) and read 5614 times:

Just once I'd like to hear a few A.net members admit to being equally ignorant in the face of enthusiasts in other subjects.

User currently offlineDutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 56
Reply 7, posted (11 years 1 month 14 hours ago) and read 5597 times:

Recently flew on a 764 from BRU-EWR and I overheard one passenger speaking to the other.....the first person said, wow, what a big plane, it looks like very big bus inside, and the other said, yes, that is why this airplane is called an Airbus.

User currently offlineCx123 From Australia, joined May 2004, 695 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (11 years 1 month 14 hours ago) and read 5596 times:

I think th difference between A and B are pretty Evident. Whereas the model within B and A might be hard.

eg. 333 and 340 (If you did not look at the engines outside)

Also between 743 and 744 (if the airline like QF are deciding the renovate them into 2 class) It is hard for the pax to differentiate. However I thought most airlines actually print the model int he Safety Demo Cards?

I know in HK many people do refer to the 744 as a LArge airplane and an Airbus (346, 333 etc) 777, 767 etc.. as a Small Plane.

I think the fact about Double Decker that gives HK people that they are large (Like the KMB Double Decker Bus)

User currently offlineSolnabo From Sweden, joined Jan 2008, 887 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (11 years 1 month 14 hours ago) and read 5578 times:

I wonder what the pax verdict gonna be when they fly A388!!!
 Wow! OMG  Wow!

Mike//SE  Big thumbs up

Airbus SAS - Love them both
User currently offlineGeizistgeil From Germany, joined Apr 2004, 149 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (11 years 1 month 14 hours ago) and read 5554 times:

That´s easy Solnabo they will fly in a Jumbo-Jet, cause all double-deckers are Jumbos.....  Big grin

I must think on a sunny sunday at MUC, where I was taking a bus tour around the airport and on the apron. When we were next to the treshold, the guide told us through his mic "on the left you can see a landing Iberia 737". A little boy in front of me shouted something like "damned, this is a A320". Hehe, the little boy was right.

[Edited 2004-07-04 15:34:00]

"If the Wright brothers were alive today. Wilbur would have to fire Orville to reduce costs" (H. Kelleher)
User currently offlineSolnabo From Sweden, joined Jan 2008, 887 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (11 years 1 month 14 hours ago) and read 5540 times:

You´re right Geizistgeil, but with 48 % more space in the "Carnival Cruiser on Wings"
My friends always ask me "what kinda a/c is that" if we watch TV or a movie, and I dont know every model that´s flying........*LOL*

Mike/SE  Big thumbs up

Airbus SAS - Love them both
User currently offlineN754PR From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (11 years 1 month 13 hours ago) and read 5509 times:

On a PR flight to Hong Kong a Philippine guy asked the FA "Miss is this a DC-10 or 747?"............... She replied "This is a A330"  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

User currently offlineWindowSeat From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1318 posts, RR: 56
Reply 13, posted (11 years 1 month 11 hours ago) and read 5436 times:

I recently flew from SEA-ATL on DL in a B764. The 764 is very visibly longer and has the signature interior. The person sitting next to me argued with me for the longest time that it was a 763 except that it was 'refurbished'. I pointed out to the long cabin and he said it felt long because of the new interiors. I pointed out to the raked wingtips and he said they were an add on. Finally, I said, yes, if Boeing was going to make so many changes to a 763, wouldn't they call it a 764? And he just shut up. Later, he did ask a passing F/A what type the aircraft was and she said 767. He asked her what series, and she calmly answered, "the -400, sir"


I'm all in favour of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with keyboards.
User currently offlineAzoresLover From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 771 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (11 years 1 month 11 hours ago) and read 5409 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

It seems fairly normal that many (most) people don't know what type of plane they're on. Personally, I choose flights based on type of aircraft when I have options, which is most of the time. However, probably the most "unknowledgeable" (to be kind) comment I've ever heard was one day in the 70's when I was waiting at CMH for a flight. A father had his young son there watching planes. A plane took off (I forget the type now, possibly a DC-9). A few minutes later an identical plane made a landing. The guy went into a panic!! He wondered why the plane that just took off had suddenly returned!! They must have had some serious mechanical problem. He hoped everyone on the plane was OK. I just wandered away, wondering when he might figure out that an airline has more than a single aircraft!!

Those who want to do something will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse.
User currently offlineCXA330300 From South Africa, joined May 2004, 1588 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (11 years 1 month 10 hours ago) and read 5373 times:

I once heard some idiot telling their kid that they were on a "Boe-ing Sheva-Arba-Sheva" (B747 said out in Hebrew) when the safety card in front of them so loudly said:


(Picture of a BA 763 over the Alps)

Boeing 767-300

I informed them that it was a "Boe-ing Sheva-Shesh-Sheva" and he looked at me like I was an idiot. Needless to say, we were on a LHR-TLV flight.

The sky is the limit as long as you can stay there
User currently offlineA346 From Germany, joined May 2004, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (11 years 1 month 5 hours ago) and read 5263 times:

It doesn't really have to do with an aircraft type, bt my friend who is a FA for LH, was asked by customer during flight: "Are we moving?" My friend was confused by that question and asked her what she said and she was like, are we moving? It seems like we are staying in the air. My friend hold back her laughter and explained to her briefly why they can't be standing in the air.
I think this is so hilarious, how stupid can one bay and htink th eplane is not moving.


User currently offlineWindowSeat From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1318 posts, RR: 56
Reply 17, posted (11 years 1 month 4 hours ago) and read 5231 times:

Not knowing an aircraft type is one thing or even identifying the wrong type sometimes acceptable, but the following just had be burst into a laughter and is inexcusable.

I was in IKEA (the Swedish Furniture store) outside Newark Airport, NJ, USA, where their cafe overlooks the runways. There was a grandmother and her grandkid sitting on the table by the window in the next row and the kid was very excited to see the planes. His grandmother was consistently giving him wrong information though. When an aircraft would taxi by, she would say it was on take off roll. When the aircraft turned immediately after take off she said it was getting out of the way of a landing aircraft coming straight at it. But the kicker was when a Fedex DC-10 taxied across and the kid asked, "What is that?" referring to the third tail mounted engine. The grandmother seemed clearly stumped, but gathered herself and said, "oh, That's a male aircraft, the others are females" Big grin

LOL, I could not contain my laughter at this point and they soon left in a hurry. What was she thinking?


[Edited 2004-07-05 00:56:49]

I'm all in favour of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with keyboards.
User currently offlineJetranger2000 From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 230 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (11 years 1 month 4 hours ago) and read 5219 times:

I noticed that people can correctly identify aircraft if its unique. Look at the 747 for example, its a household word and everyone can identify it because of the famous upper-deck.

User currently offlineTavong From Colombia, joined Jul 2001, 863 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (11 years 1 month 4 hours ago) and read 5212 times:

Has said before people just don't know wich type of plane they fly, they usually only know the airline cause they bougth the ticket but not anymore, little people cares about "i'll be doing this route in a 737, or an ERJ, or A319 etc." they only want to go from one point to other and no more, most people when they thinks on the plane usually thinks in how old it's the fleet but if they get to destination they won't care on wich plane they're on...

*sigths* seems that only a few from us thinks on the type of plane.....


Just put me on any modern airliner and i will be happy, give me more star alliance miles and i will be a lot more happy.
User currently offlineTrolley Dolley From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (11 years 1 month 4 hours ago) and read 5203 times:

Does it really matter what type of plane you are on, so long as it's the right one? After all, AC fly to Sydney, Australia and Sydney, Canada. You wouldn't want to get on the wrong plane in that case.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy I'm a geek and know exactly which type of plane I'm on, right down to the series. Most people don't know and don't care.

User currently offlineBenjamin From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 444 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (11 years 1 month 4 hours ago) and read 5197 times:

It may sound strange, but the easiest way I find on board to tell A or B is to look at the seat number signs. Airbus have these little things that stick out (and illuminate?) whereas Boeing ones are printed.

I thought the airlines chose their interriors. Although, you may be right. I can tell my the A vs. B airvents.

User currently offlineAirtrainer From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 1561 posts, RR: 11
Reply 22, posted (11 years 1 month 3 hours ago) and read 5144 times:

Ok, it's an aviation forum so I think every member here do care about what plane he's boarding. But even if it's quite funny sometimes, don't be so rude with non-enthusiast. I have a complete ignorance about the different trains types for example... Would it be so nice if everyone had the same passion ? I don't think so, and this makes me love our passion even more  Smile/happy/getting dizzy



Life is short : eat dessert first !
User currently offlineSIunitsrule From Panama, joined Jul 2004, 90 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (11 years 1 month 3 hours ago) and read 5120 times:

I can most likely tell the airpline type if it's a common aircraft (to me at least). For example, I can recognize Airbuses' A319 and A340. The A330, A300 and A310 I might stumble a little. Boeing I can recognize most of them (and the B737 I can ussually tell the series). The B767, however, I have not flown often and cannot tell the series. I'm learning, though.
I do look at the A/C type when booking flights, though. If I know the type, I can tell the basics of it (aprox. # of seats, # of engines, and body type).
It's fun not to be able to identify every detail of an aircraft at sight. At least to me!! Big grin


Everything is relative, so be mindful of your references...
User currently offlineAmericanairfan From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 410 posts, RR: 3
Reply 24, posted (11 years 1 month 3 hours ago) and read 5116 times:

reminds me of last year I was on a 737-300 and these people behind were like this is a 757 and her daughter goes no its a 737 she goes shut up its a 757 and then we taxiied to takeoff and we waited for a Continental 737-800 to takeoff and she went look there's another 757. LOL she was swearing about it which really anoyed me.

Im extremely good at telling airplanes apart and im only 13 but not like a 737-300 from a 500 or somethn but I know the diference between a 737-200 and the rest on up lol. I studied about planes since I was 9 and ive noticed how i called a 777 a 737 hehe but now I know.

"American 1881 Cleared For Takeoff One Seven Left"
25 Wolkenridder : Airtrainer, Tout à fait d'accord avec toi!!! (Absolutely agree with you!)
26 BAxMAN : I am not ashamed to say that I do not have a clue what type of plane I'm going to be flying. The main thing that concerns me is going from A to B in a
27 Post contains images Tasha : "Recently flew on a 764 from BRU-EWR and I overheard one passenger speaking to the other.....the first person said, wow, what a big plane, it looks li
28 CanadianNorth : I know people who've flown on a 737-200Adv and thought it was a 747. Oh well, can't blame them, after all im guilty occasionally... (YVR-IAH and IAH-Y
29 Post contains images MrFord : Hehe, there's some funny anecdote here . For us, it may be funny, but for those passengers, to be able to say that this is an Airbus or a Lochkeed or
30 Jwenting : I always know if it's a big plane or a little plane, what more do you need to know?
31 UA777222 : This is what I try to get across the most when these topics like "A/C change to 772 from 763!" well a majority if not the entire a/c is full of people
32 WJA73G : I qote my father who is currently (today) celebrating his 30th Year of flying.. "average people don't care what kind of airplane they fly on, For all
33 Francoflier : Hey, but at least a toyota Camry and a Mazda 6 are quite different! I mean, jetliners, they all look alike! It's just a tube and a pair of wings with
34 UA777222 : My mother says the 744 is WAY too big yet comfortable on a long haul (SFO-HKG) but that an ATR is way too small for a 21min. hop from SJU to Beef Isla
35 Post contains images Mir : I once came across someone who, after having flown JetBlue from Oakland to JFK, made the comment that "it was the first time that he'd flown on an air
36 UA777222 : "Wingtip fences" arggg those french and their name making up ablititys. As much as I know what a/c will be on what route I was quiet shocked to see a
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