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How to Find What Plane You’re Flying On (And Why You Might Want To)

Passenger plane is landing during a wonderful sunrise
Nieuwland Photography/Shutterstock

Not all airplanes are the same. The two main manufacturers—Airbus and Boeing—both sell different models to airlines for different situations. Let’s look at how to find out what plane you’ll be flying on before you get on the plane.

Why You Might Want to Know

Two Boeing 737 MAX8s have crashed in the past six months, one flown by Lion Air, the other by Ethiopian Airlines. Since the second crash, the 737 MAX fleet has been grounded around the world, but all the media interest has brought a lot more attention to the different planes that airlines are flying. The 737 MAX, after all, is just Boeing’s latest iteration (with bigger engines) of their decades old and incredibly successful 737-series.

While there’s no need to worry whether or not you’re going to be flying on a 737 MAX—since they’re not allowed fly—there are still a few good reasons you might want to check what plane you’re going to be on in advance, or before even booking your trip:

  • Not all seats on a plane are equal. Ever picked a window seat and found that the window doesn’t line up with your row? Or been stuck with a seat that doesn’t recline because it’s in front of the emergency exit rows? If you check what plane you’re on before booking, you can pick one of the best seats in the house.
  • Seat pitch is the distance between the same point on the seats in consecutive rows. It’s what determines your legroom. While airlines used to offer 34-inches of pitch as standard, it’s now dropped to as low as 29-inches. Older planes often have more generous seat layouts so, if you’re long and lanky, knowing what plane you’ll fly on means that you can make an informed decision as to whether you’ll need to fork out for an extra legroom seat, or if you’ll be okay in standard economy.
  • If you’re considering flying Business Class on short-haul flights, it’s a good idea to check what plane is operating the route. Some planes have proper Business Class seats, but others just give you a normal aisle or window seat and block people from sitting in the middle one. Not necessarily what you want if you’re paying three times the price of a regular ticket.
  • Finally, some planes, like the Boeing 747, are classics that are being retired. Others, like the Airbus A380, are failed models of which only very few were sold. If you want to fly on one of these planes that has a bit of story to it, then you need to check the routes on which they operate.

How to Find Out What Plane You’re Flying On

Okay, now that you want to find out what plane you’re flying on, let’s look at how to do it.

Check Your Ticket or the Booking Screen

When you’re booking a ticket, some airlines list the kind of aircraft on which you’ll be flying. Here’s an example from Aer Lingus.

ticket details

If you click Flight Details, you get more information about the flight including what plane is flying. Here, you can see it’s an Airbus A320. The process for finding this information will be slightly different for each airline, and some might not show it until the seat selection screen, or even the final ticket.

Use Seat Guru

The more reliable strategy is to use Seat Guru. It’s a site that has floor plans for all the major aircraft so you can pick the best seat. Conveniently, it also tells you the plane on which you’re flying.

Head to Seat Guru and plug in your flight information. You either use the Flight Number or the destination and date.

seat guru

Here’s that same Aer Lingus flight.

seat guru

Click “View Map,” and you’ll get a layout of the cabin.

cabin layout

Any great seats are highlighted in green, seats you should be aware of are highlighted in yellow, and bad seats are highlighted in red. Hover over to find out why.

hover over

Knowing what plane you’re flying on isn’t for just aviation geeks (or AvGeeks). There are real benefits to checking in advance, especially since good seats and bad seats often cost the same.

Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like the New York Times and on a variety of other websites, including Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »
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