So noisy, so dry… and so old. That’s pretty much all I could think about, as I crossed the pond for the second time this week, aboard a Boeing 767-300ER.
The last time I had that feeling, I was in first class, on a 26 year old Boeing 777-200. I mention that purely to say that even the “best” class of service doesn’t always feel up to scratch on these older planes, once you’ve gotten used to the newer generation of aircraft.
The thing is, I’ve gotten spoiled. First world, I know, but it’s a real conversation at this point. If you haven’t experienced one of the newer long haul aircraft flying, you really should.
It’s not partisan, in fact both Airbus and Boeing have phenomenal competing aircraft, with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and Airbus A350 respectively. Each brings a notably better cabin experience.
Here’s what you need to know about these newer aircraft, and why I actively try my best to end up on one for the sake of my body.
New Vs Old: Passenger Experience
Do I have a cold? Or the other “c-word” — I don’t think so — I tested plenty — but I’ve definitely felt more refreshed, even after longer flights.
To me, that mental conversation is the primary difference between flying on a newer generation plane and the remarkably reliable, but not so “passenger friendly” plane I was on.
On a Boeing 787, Airbus A220 or Airbus A350, I can talk to someone across the aisle without remotely raising my voice. On an older generation Airbus A330, Boeing 777 or 767, you just hear a constant stream of intensely dry air drowning out other noises. The only benefit, in retrospect, was it helped dull the sound of farts in the air. It’s true!
Loud and dry, that’s the rally cry. Newer planes have solved that, thanks to new composite fuselage materials which require less intensive pressurization to keep us all sane and safe. Here are a few things you might notice, if you do a side by side flying comparison.
Both the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 offer higher humidity levels, which keep your throat, nostrils and other key areas from going quite as dry. When these things become dry, they’re more susceptible to illness, so aside from feeling better, it is better.
Better humidity doesn’t mean it feels like stepping out in Singapore, but rather, just a lot less like stepping into the arctic. It’s a more natural cabin environment for the body, much more akin to what we feel down on the ground.
This is a novelty, but larger windows are a major feature. The stronger materials used to build these planes allow for more liberties with design, and the 787 and A350 offer huge windows. Stargazing, or cloud surfing has never been better.
These large windows can help with things like claustrophobia for some passengers and just generally create a feeling of greater space. Fascinatingly, the Airbus A350-1000 was designed with “vertical side walls” to minimize the plane curvature at passenger level, so people don’t feel as confined.
Noise is a thing on planes. That constant whisking of dry air can grate on you after a few hours on board. Both of these newer generation planes claim to be at least 20% less noisy than legacy aircraft. I’d say that’s conservative.
You really can chat without raising your voice and feel a noticeable difference in calm. It’s a fantastic cabin experience that you really must “hear” to believe.
Have You Flown On A Newer Aircraft?
Look, I might be more focused on this stuff than the average traveler, but I feel a very noticeable difference in flight. I know many I’ve spoken to tend to agree. With that said, I’d love to hear what you think.