I’m feeling a little bored today, so what do you say that I invoke a massive Boeing vs Airbus war? Well, causing a ruckus isn’t my intention but we all know how this kind of stuff usually goes. Anyway, I figured it was time that I tackled one of the most requested comparisons I get from my readers: The A350 vs 787. The purpose of this comparison is to let you know my opinion about which is the better aircraft from a passengers perspective.
Considering that I never made it last high school algebra, I’m the last guy on earth to be telling technical stuff such as: which of these two aircraft has the better dispatch reliability. It’s the 787, by the way, coming in at 99.3% vs 99.1% for Airbus. But that’s not the point of this article.
Instead, given the fact that I’ve been on 6 A350s and 14 787s so far, I feel as if I’m extremely qualified to tell you which one is less likely to have you feeling like death after a long 14 hour flight.
Which aircraft is less likely dry out your sinuses on long flights? Which one offers a better toilet experience? The answer to those questions (and more) is coming up.
Table of Contents
A350 vs 787: The video
There seems to be two different types of people in this world: those who like to read, and those who binge on YouTube. In an attempt to try and please everyone, I present to you the video version of this article:
Even after watching the video, it’s still worth reading the rest of this article. Not because I’d be sad if I wasted all my time writing it out, but also because there are some additional nuggets of info that weren’t included in what I uploaded to YouTube.
A comparison of the boarding process (and overhead bins)
If you’ve reached this point in the article and you haven’t yet been filled with enough rage to engage in a Boeing vs Airbus argument with a complete stranger from the other side of the planet down in the comment section below, congratulations. It takes real strength to resist an urge like that. However there’s still plenty of time to get triggered so hang in there.
Anyway, there really isn’t all that much of a difference between the A350 and the 787 when it comes to boarding process. Airliners are airliners, and it’s pretty much the same experience no matter what type of aircraft it is. Unless, of course, it’s a United CRJ-200 to Los Angeles, but otherwise stepping onto an airplane is stepping onto an airplane.
There is a slight difference though, and that’ll be clear as you arrive at your seat and stow your carry on bag in the overhead bin.
To be honest, I slightly prefer the A350 overhead bins. They seem larger and slightly more accessible to me, and I’ve noticed that I don’t have to reach as much as I do trying to retrieve my bag after a flight.
Comparing the windows (bet you already know who’s gonna lose)
Is there really anything that needs to be said about the windows in this A350 vs 787 comparison? I’ve got a lot to say, but telling you my honest feelings would get likely get me blacklisted in the aviation community.
For those that don’t know, both the A350 and 787 have very large windows. As a matter of fact, It’s almost as if the designers approached the problem by saying: “whatever we do, we just can’t make them as bad as the CRJ-200 windows!” Huge props to both Airbus and Boeing for aligning with my hatred of the CRJ.
It’s not all great though. Boeing couldn’t resist the urge to use an electronically controlled dimming system, which, when I first heard of it, sounded like next-level technology. Unfortunately, as most of us know…it sucks. It sucks bad. Not only do these windows have a permanent tint to them, they can be controlled by the cabin crew.
The tinted windows of the 787 are especially bad news for aviation photographers like dose.of.aviation. I can only imagine the profanity coming out of that man’s mouth when they dim the windows on him in the middle of an intense photo sesh.
I guess that means Airbus wins again. Can’t you just feel the rage burning inside of you?
Speaking of winners, just how awesome are the SANspotter Patrons? Riley Wingo, Joshua bedel, and all of these people have got SANspotter merch coming to them soon. I’m working on it, and my plan is to get it in their hands within the next month or so. The only question is: Will they be brave enough to flaunt it in public?
Which aircraft offers better overall cabin comfort?
One of the most exciting things about the launch of both the A350 and 787 was the fact that they were designed from the ground up to offer a better climate control system compared to previous-generation aircraft.
Both the A350 and 787 offer high levels of cabin humidity with less negative effects of pressurization. Remember what I told you early about my inability to proceed beyond high school math? I’d love to inject some intelligent facts and figures to support what I’m saying, but unfortunately – I’m dumb.
Therefore, the best way that I can tell you whether or not these enhancements work is to tell you this: the amount of dried snot that comes out of my head after a long flight on an A350 or 787 is FAR less than any other aircraft types I’ve flown.
I don’t know why, but the 777 wreaks havoc on my sinuses on long flights (HKG-ORD on a United 777-200 was brutal for me in this regard). Even more than the CRJ-200, which is shocking, I know.
Anyway, the higher humidity and lower pressure levels absolutely do make a difference on both aircraft.
The toilets. We gotta talk about the toilets.
Ok, hypothetical question time: let’s say (just for kicks) that you’re somewhere deep in Thailand, you’re headed to the airport to catch a long 15 hour flight home, and…you pass by the most irresistible-looking milk and raw fish street food vendor you’ve ever seen.
You (being as horrifically lactose-intolerant as you are) proceed to gorge yourself silly on two fistfulls of the most delicious creamy (and raw) unrefrigerated delicacies that you’ve ever ingested. Which airplane lavatory would you prefer to spend the aftermath in? The A350 or the 787?
Thankfully for you, I don’t have such an experience to describe to you in excruciatingly vivid detail. However, I have spent time in both lavatories doing completely normal things, and I have to say that there’s no clear winner here.
I’d like to say that the A350 is a generally quieter airplane overall, which makes using the loo a gentle and pleasing experience. However, if I say that, I’m seriously worried about being called an anti-American Boeing hater at this point.
And the winner is…
Hello? Is anyone still here? I’ve got a strong suspicion that 99% of the people who clicked on this article fell into two camps:
- Those who clicked off right away (in anger) after I gave the A350 the first win
- Those who couldn’t resist a heated Airbus vs Boeing debate and are down in the comment section right now hurling insults at one another
Anyway, the three of you still reading are probably dying to know if I’m going to declare a winner in this A350 vs 787 comparison.
And you know what? I’m going to declare the A350 the winner, but not by as large of a margin as you may have expected.
Yeah, I really don’t like the 787 windows. As a matter of fact, I despise them. That being said, it’s a beautiful airplane and a very nice way to fly around the world (in any class).
Given the choice of an A350 or a 787 on a particular route, it would come down to the airline and the seat. I wouldn’t choose one or the other all things being equal, but I would most certainly choose an A350 or 787 over an older aircraft type. Like, say, the CRJ-200.
You seriously didn’t think I’d end this without taking one final jab at that little guy, did you?
Just for this Im unsubscribing and telling people what a terrible trip report these are
It’s not surprising considering how much you hate the 787 lol. The good news is that I haven’t been flying lately so I don’t have any new 787 reviews coming up!
You might not like, that the A350 is quieter and roomier then the 787, but that’s the way it is. US airlines often use the 787, but if I can choose, then I travel with the A350. All I care is the higher comfort. Yes, the seat in the A350 is only a little bit wider, but for me it’s the difference between able to move around a little and find a comfortable position to get some sleep and fitting snug into the seat but not able to move around.
Say whatever you want to say, it’s not changing the fact, that an A350 in 9-abreast configuration is more comfortable then the 787. Yes, there are minor differences in cabin pressure and humidity, but I’m not able to distinguish them.
Fun fact: The reason both of these aircraft have a more comfortable environment is due to their construction. Notably, both planes are among the first to have fuselages primarily made out of composite materials. Composite materials resist fatigue better, meaning that pressurization cycles have a less significant impact on the lifespan and safety of the aircraft. This is also the reason for the large windows, as composites can be designed to focus stress away from windows. (Windows historically have served as stress concentrators in aircraft). But, personally I prefer the 787. The high aspect ratio wings make for an excellent aesthetic, the jet engines are among the most efficient ever produced, and the wing is designed to change its airfoil shape as it bends and unbends to optimize its lift distribution.
I agree about the shape (flex) of the wing under load. It’s impressive, and I can’t help but to wonder if we’ll see that “feature” trickle down to whatever the 737 replacement is going to be.
Got to this post a little late… but I’d like to throw in some considerations that were left out. It’s important to note that different airlines and even same-carrier configurations will differ, thus making it difficult to outright claim that one aircraft is necessarily superior, even by opinion. And then there’s the differences on the same aircraft within different classes of service.
It appears the improved humidity/pressurization on the A350 is optional, so not all A350s will have it. All 787s do, however. The 787 is pressurized by electrically operated compressors dedicated to the HVAC. The A350 uses traditional bleed air from the engines to compress the cabin air. The 777X should also have the improved interior comfort.
Overhead bins, while probably standardized at this point, aren’t guaranteed to stay that way as interior mods on older planes are probably not far off. It can even vary by the cabin–for instance, Delta does not have center overhead bins in business class on their A350-900 aircraft.
The lavatories are going to vary as well by carrier, class of service, whether you go to the accessible lav, and so on.
And not mentioned in the article, seating, while wildly variable, still has some generic qualities that can impart a preference. The 787 at introduction had widely available 2-4-2 seating in economy. That gives more choice than 3-3-3 on the A350, although it’s now rare to find a 787 that is not 3-3-3. But in premium economy, the 787 is usually 2-3-2, and I find that preferable to the A350 PE standard of 2-4-2. And there’s so much difference in business class that you can’t really prefer one plane to the other without specifying the carrier.
So I’m afraid no one can really pick a winner here except for himself, as it’s extremely subjective.
All good points Sam – thanks for your input!
Just an FYI, you mention at the end that the CRJ-200 is the “Jungle Jet”. Actually, the Jungle Jet is the E-145 as it is made by Embraer in Brazil (the jungle). The CRJ is made in Montreal and is called the Barbie Fun Jet. Of those two, I prefer the E-145. I also very much dislike the CRJ’s!
Also, I’m taking my first trip in 350-900 this summer from DTW to AMS. I’ll going to try Delta’s Premium Select to see how that is. Can’t wait!
That’s a nice long flight to try out Premium Select. I can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to like it. Have fun!
Yeah, for some reason I’ve had those two mixed up for the longest time. I have been trying to unlearn the fact that the CRJ isn’t the jungle jet, but it’s been hard. Haha!
I’ve never been on any of these planes, but when I do, I’ll have to see which one is the best between the two…
Spoil Alert: I’m traveling to the Middle East this summer, so I will come back to this article when that trip is over because I might as well fly on the A350 or the 787.
Looking forward to finding out what you think of either aircraft (or both)!
I’ve yet to try the A350, but I’ve flown on the 787 and I’m a huge fan. Even in Economy, the quieter engines and better humidity, as well as the Sky Interior, make the cabin more comfortable for sleeping and leave you in much better shape afterwards. And even at 9-abreast, it still felt, dare I say it, spacious.
Consider me a fan of the windows. The dimming feature is very useful in bright sunlight, and I can forgive the slow dimming and the fact that they don’t dim 100% because it’s a new technology.
There could be some sort of physical shade though, just in case.
However, I don’t like the fact that the crew can control the window dimming. Luckily, a few airlines have responded to this (American doesn’t let crews lock the windows anymore, United dims them but doesn’t lock them most of the time, and on your Aeroméxico flight they dimmed them to 50%)
I also much prefer 2-4-2 to 3-3-3. I fit just fine in a 17″ seat, but I don’t like the number of middle seats, and this layout is just a whole lot less convenient. 2-4-3 like on the 747-100’s and MD-11’s is a lot better!
The A350 looks even better: more spacious, quieter, and with wider seats in the same configuration. Plus it looks better (the 787 is more distinctive, but the A350 is a bit prettier)
TLDR: I love the 787 due to its spacious cabin, quietness, windows, and better air quality; but I dislike 3-3-3 and the crew controlling the window (ok yes, I need to be considerate to other passengers, but those windows were made to strike a compromise between window and non-window pax)
Everything “nice” you named is better yet in A350. A350 has higher cabin humidity than B787. A350 is still yet quieter than B787. Sky Interior has several design flaws that Airbus carefully avoided in their Air Space cabin design. The same 9-abreast configuration on both aircraft means A350 has wider seats… yes wider than B787, so even that is better. I fly a ton internationally for my work (transoceanic every week) and hands down A350 is better.
The outcome of B787 makes me sad as an American, of so much overlooked details. It’s not to say it’s a bad plane but Airbus has perfected nearly every aspect of A350 over that of B787.
Hey Will – yes, those are all valid arguments. The trouble with these types of A vs B posts is that it’s kind of like trying to choose a winner between something like Coke and Pepsi (or Ford and Chevy). Both are equally good, but there will always be those who prefer one over the other. On that note, I have started to like the A350 a lot more since I originally wrote this comparison, so maybe it’s time for an update…
Both airplanes are amazing. But airbus A350 is much quieter