Have you ever watched a bottle of water become a crushed, miniature version of itself while airborne?

That simple visual is the most common reminder that flying in a metal tube is not quite like life down on earth. Fortunately, airlines are investing major dough in upgrading their fleets- and some of the newer offerings are simply fantastic for the passenger experience. Here’s how to choose between the best new planes…

Speaking of passenger experience, you can also check out the best and worst long haul airlines for legroom…

Airbus A380

The A380 is perhaps the most inventive relative newcomer, offering two decks the entire length of the plane. It’s hard to understand the scale until you’ve actually set foot in one, but it’s wonderful, it’s spacious, and you can check out a first class review here.

A380 Passenger Experience Pros

  • Whisper quiet
  • Movements feel very stable.
  • Showers (Emirates, Etihad).
  • On board bar (Emirates, Etihad, Qatar).
  • Anti turbulence system.
  • Cool mood lighting.
  • Tail camera, viewable from seat.

A380 Passenger Experience Cons

  • Dense seating in economy.
  • Cabin pressure not quite as good, compared to 787, 350.

Airlines Flying It…

Asiana, Air France, British Airways, China Southern, Etihad, Emirates, Korean, Lufthansa, Malaysia, Singapore, Qatar, Qantas.

Boeing 787

The Dreamliner was the first “new generation” aircraft, featuring a totally reinvented cabin experience, better air pressure, humidity and larger windows. You’ll feel an improvement on just about everything, including breathing. Though the windows may not be the most effective, they’re pretty cool...

787 Passenger Experience Pros

  • Excellent cabin pressure, air quality.
  • Larger windows, cool “tinting” shades.
  • Spacious lavatories, often with window.
  • Anti turbulence system.
  • Incredible cabin lighting.
  • Quiet.

787 Passenger Experience Cons

  • Slightly tight in most economy cabins (due to width).
  • Window tints don’t “fully” blackout. No blackout shade.
  • No showers. Bar only on Virgin Atlantic.

Airlines Flying It…

Aeromexico, Air Austral, Air Canada, Air China, Air Europa, Air France, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, American, Avianca, Azerbaijan, British Airways, China Southern, Ethiopian, Etihad, Hainan, JAL, Kenya, Korean, LATAM, LOT, Norwegian, Oman, Qantas, Qatar, Royal Brunei, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, Scoot, TUI, United, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Virgin Atlantic, Xiamen.

Airbus A350

The A350 is the newest “new generation” offering, acting as a direct competitor to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Being the newest, the A350 is an attempt to improve upon the passenger experience trends started by the Dreamliner. High ceilings, great air pressure, you can hear a pin drop! Check out a review in business class here.

A350 Passenger Experience Pros

  • Best cabin pressure of any plane (most like ground).
  • Extremely quiet, only beaten by A380.
  • Push button full blackout window shades.
  • High ceilings, feeling of space.
  • 5% more humidity than Boeing 787 (more natural).
  • Widest average economy seats.
  • Tail, belly, landing gear cameras viewable from seat.

A350 Passenger Experience Cons

  • No showers. No proper bars, just social areas.
  • Not enough airlines have them!

Airlines Flying It…

Asiana, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Ethiopian, Finnair, LATAM, Malaysian, Lufthansa, Qatar, Singapore, Thai, Vietnam.

Soon: China Southern, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways.

The Verdict:

Economy Winner: A350

Business Class Winner: A350 (unless you enjoy an A380 bar on Qatar, Emirates or Etihad).

First Class Winner: A380.

Having flown each plane in each cabin, we consistently feel the freshest on the A350. The more natural cabin pressure, humidity and noise are instantly comforting. The push button window blinds are sleek, the high ceilings and extra large overhead bins create a sense of space- it’s just tough to beat.

Obviously the A380 is fantastic for its innovative bars and showers, but unless you’re flying business or first, these are non factors. The 787 is also an incredible plane, and the main guidance here is to choose one of these three over any older plane, where the air, humidity, noise, bathrooms and overall space will not be as good.

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