I have seen quite a lot of comparisons between the 777 and the 747 in magazines, message boards etc. Perhaps I could make a few observations as follows:
1. Which Version
It is only fair to compare the 777 and the 744. The Classics are too old to compare with the 777.
It is not possible, nor fair, to compare seating comfort, leg room, quality of food, entertainment systems, colour of the interior etc as this is almost totally dependent on airline configuration. All that can be compared are things that are permanently fixed to the aircraft, like design of overhead bins, wall panels, toilets, galleys etc. Also quietness is an important factor. In this respect, the 777 is probably the winner. It has a more modern cabin design, and a more airy feel. It is quieter inside. The toilets are slightly more modern. But this is not to say that the 744 interior is no good. I still find the design of the overhead bins attractive, and the wall panels are virtually identical to the 777s. Many people think that the 744 overhead bins intrude too much in to the cabin. But I think what many have overlooked is that given the height of the 777 overhead bins, some people might find it hard to open/close them.
In terms of external appearance, I think the 747 wins hands down. It has many more interesting features, most crucial of which is the upper deck. It has winglets, a more impressive landing gear, and its sheer size gives it the ultimate in presence. The 777, modern as it is, is actually a very plain looking plane. Apart from larger than usual engines, there’s noting too special about it.
The 777 clearly wins here. It is a decade ahead of the 747. It has fly by wire, computer screens for the cabin crews, and many more high tech features. The engines are a generation ahead, and cause much less noise pollution. But this is not to say the 744 is old fashioned. It does also have some sophisticated features.
This is probably what most airlines put as their highest priority. It does not matter whether the plane is good looking or not, or if it has trendy looking overhead bins. What matters most is whether it can make the most money for the airline. In this respect, I believe that the 777 is a more efficient aircraft. Being a twin, it is more fuel efficient. And its lower weight gives it an advantage. Also bear in mind that, especially in –300 form, the 777 carries almost as many passengers as a 747, despite being physically smaller.
6. Passenger preference/peace of mind
I think the 747 wins here. The fact that the 747 is the most well known and largest aircraft in the world gives people a favourable impression. And having four engines makes it a winner. It is no use trying to convince passengers that the 777 has been through ETOPS testing and the chance of both engines breaking down is small (most passengers are ignorant of these facts anyway). The fact is that twins do not give the same peace of mind to passengers. Passengers would simply be really worried if an engine on a twin broke down over the North Pole. This is not to say the 777 does not have a good reputation. Many people, especially the younger ones, have a favourable impression of this aircraft because it is probably the most modern airliner currently in service.
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