a man sitting in a chair reading a book
Copyright: HBO

Continuity is a big word in Hollywood productions with entire teams of people employed to ensure that nothing is missing or changed from a scene over time. It’s an important way to avoid embarrassment in a final product. Yet when it comes to planes and private jets in films — all bets are off. They get so much wrong all the time.

I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say I probably care about the accuracy of plane shots more than most, but I’m certainly not alone, and with such large teams of pros out there on any shoot to get things “right” I can’t help but wonder how they still get so much wrong both inside and out when it comes to planes.

a white airplane on a runway

Interior/Exterior Fails

The most egregious Hollywood oversights of aviation are visible even to the totally untrained, uncaring eye.

They show something like a double decker Airbus A380 for a take off scene, but then when the plane lands, they show a small single deck plane gently squishing its wheels against the runway. This ain’t Transformers, am I right?

Hollywood wouldn’t shoot a Ferrari exterior with a minivan interior, would they? Yet, this is exactly what happens with aviation scenes.

Surely someone on the major studio production can tell the difference between a big double deck super-jumbo like the Airbus A380 and a little Boeing 737 Southwest jet?

Some Hollywood plane errors are more pedantic, but almost more frustrating. Like when they show a tiny little Learjet 45 exterior, a small private jet that holds about 6 people at a push, but then the “scene” inside the plane is a big Gulfstream G650 with like 16 seats and a bedroom rather than the cramped 4 to 6 tiny seats, which despite the “luxury” of a PJ can feel cramped in practice.

I guess what I don’t get is that few industries love and demand private jets quite like the glitterati of Hollywood. There’s plenty of people from film financing to directors and the stars themselves who most certainly know the difference first hand. It’s not like there’s only stock footage of one jet available.

a man sitting in a chair reading a book
Copyright: HBO

There are so many more examples where an exterior shot offers a big transatlantic Boeing 777, the largest single decker passenger plane on earth with two aisles, before zooming into a small commuter plane that you might fly from Tulsa to Omaha with a lone aisle.

Even Guy Ritchie, who I’m told is an aviation enthusiast makes the exact error during an animation sequence in his new film, where a BBJ interior is shown but a Boeing 777, which could basically eat a 737 in one mouthful is seeing jetting through the skies.

Hooray: Succession Gets It Mostly Right

There may be an example where the show has historically gotten it wrong, but it’s never caught my eye. That binary pass or fail is impressive, because I usually can’t help but notice and complain, to the chagrin of my partner.

In Succession, at least in the most recent season, the cabin interiors all match the size and scope of the type of plane being flown. And in true Succession style, they’ve been going “big” on the PJ’s.

When Logan goes “big” and takes the Boeing 737 “BBJ”, they use an actual BBJ for the exterior shots. The plane on the tarmac is a BBJ and when the plane ceremoniously lands (no spoilers here), it’s also a BBJ.

Crucially, the interior cabin is a single aisle plane that looks almost certainly to be a real BBJ too. That stands for Boeing Business Jet by the way — and once you Google one it’s really hard to ever feel bad for some people ever again.

Kudos to Succession for hiring perhaps the first person in the history of Hollywood to have the #avgeek context to make sure that aviation scenes actually make sense.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

Join the Conversation


  1. The plane scene was great but the one BIG fail was the stewardess doing chest compressions by herself for ever… can’t happen and at the end walks by with the AED device as if she wasn’t tired. It takes at least two well trained EMTs to take turns every few minutes.

  2. A BBJ? Wow, that’s big. The scenes I watched last night from the first episode showed the Gulfstream. The Gulfstream should be “big” enough for any rich person. The only BBJ I ever personally saw at the airport appeared to belong to Bank of America.

  3. This has always been something that really cheesed me off and basically guaranteed I wouldn’t take the rest of the production seriously at all. In some films it’s really, really terrible, to the point where someone who has never even seen a plane in real life would immediately (I would hope – but then again never overestimate the average audience) understand they’re being fed a joke.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *