Airbus? Boeing? How To Quickly Tell The Difference

by SharonKurheg

Those of you who are aviation geeks just amaze me. I mean, you can just glance at a plane and know what it is. Me? I’m lucky if I can recognize a plane’s logo on the tail. But for the sake of, if nothing else, the ability to understand what my husband (the aviation geek) is talking about when he looks up and says, “That’s a Boeing 737” or “There goes an Airbus A319,” I found this, which helps explain the difference between the two:

Here’s a breakdown of what’s in the video:

Is it a Boeing or an Airbus?
0:54: Shape of the cockpit windows, especially on the sides (said to be the easiest/fastest way to identify if it’s an Airbus or a Boeing plane)
1.40: Shape of the nose
2:25: Shape of the engine housing

Captain Joe also goes into how to differentiate different planes, such as the A330 vs. B777, B767 and B757 vs A330, A380 vs. B747 and A350 vs. B787.

A few other ways to know that I discovered in my studies are:

  • This one is kind of obvious, but Airbus always starts with A (Boeings however, don’t start with a B – they’re just numbers, as seen in the next bullet)
  • Airbus planes are always in an A3XX format (A320, A350, etc.)Boeing’s planes are always in a 7X7 format (747, 787, etc.)

So now you, like me, can say, “Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…a Boeing!” You’ll be a real hit at parties 😉

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


derek January 31, 2020 - 5:02 pm

The rules are not ironclad. Airbus start with A3xx. Except the Airbus A220. The Boeing 717 is still alive. Not dead yet.

How to tell the difference between an Embraer E170/175/190/195 and an E-2 series?
How to tell the difference between a 777-300 and 777-300ER?
How to tell the difference between an A321neo and A321?

I wish I knew.

David February 3, 2020 - 2:47 am

Difference between 777-300 and 777-300er is the er has raked wingtips same as the 787. Also the engine is bigger but not much that you can visually tell. But the sure sign are the wingtips. That’s where this presenter got it slightly wrong saying 777’s have winglets. They don’t. Only the er has raked wingtips. The other variants except the 777-200LR and the 777F do not

Greg February 1, 2020 - 10:17 am

Also, it’s a bit redundant to call it an “Airbus A320”. I would call it either an “Airbus 320” or “A320”. Just the same way I wouldn’t call it a “Boeing B737” I would say “Boeing 737” or “B737”.

swoopest February 8, 2020 - 6:25 pm

In some cases the front-restroom-in-use indicator light is a way to tell. On Airbus aircraft it often merely changes from green to red, without change in shape. To the 8% of men who are red-green colorblind, this is not helpful.

On Boeing aircraft (not all, but many) an X appears when the toilet is in use, a sign that can be seen and understood by those men.


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