4 Reasons I Prefer The A350 To The 787

The two planes which are really revolutionizing air travel are the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. Don’t get me wrong, from a passenger comfort standpoint I don’t think they’re revolutionary, in the sense that I’d choose an A380 over either plane.

But what makes them revolutionary are the routes they’ve opened up which weren’t otherwise possible. Both of these planes are fairly low capacity (at least compared to planes like the A380 and 747), have low operating costs, and are long range. We’ve seen so many cool new routes introduced with these new planes, which is really exciting.

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Qatar Airways 787

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Qatar Airways A350

Look at ANA and JAL in the US alone. The two carriers fly 787s from Tokyo Narita to Boston, San Diego, and San Jose, routes which they couldn’t otherwise operate in an economically feasible fashion.

All that being said, I do have a preference between the two planes, and figured I’d share four reasons I prefer the A350 to the 787.

The awesome tail camera on the A350

While I suppose it’s technically not a “standard” feature of the A350, the A350s I’ve flown have offered tail cameras, which are awesome. Who needs inflight entertainment when you can just watch your gorgeous plane crossing the globe for hours on end? Meanwhile as far as I know, no 787 offers such a tail camera.

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Qatar Airways A350 tail camera landing in Frankfurt

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Finnair A350 tail camera approaching Helsinki

Superior windows on the A350

When the 787 was first introduced, they advertised how awesome their windows are. They are substantially bigger than on other commercial planes, which is awesome. The catch is that as a standard feature, there aren’t actually window blinds. Instead the windows just “dim” at the push of a button. That sounds great in theory, except in practice windows don’t get dark. This has been a common complaint from passengers, so some 787 operators are retrofitting their 787s with blinds.

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787 windows

I suppose the A350 deserves credit simply for having window shades, so you can get a proper night of sleep in a dark cabin — cheers to that! The windows also happen to be a very good size.

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A350 windows

More comfortable economy seating on the A350

When the 787 was first introduced, the intention was that there would be eight seats per row. In airlines’ never ending attempts to fit more seats onto planes, they eventually increasing that to nine seats per row on most carriers.

Meanwhile the A350 has nine seats per row, though has a somewhat wider cabin. As a result, you can expect economy seats on the A350 to have 18″ of width, while on the 787 they have closer to 17″. Every inch counts!

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Qatar Airways A350 economy cabin

The A350 is quieter

While I haven’t personally measured the sound, I was amazed by how quiet the A350 was. While the 787 is already significantly quieter than other Boeing models, the A350 is on par with the A380 in terms of how quiet it is in the cabin. That really can make a huge difference when it comes to overall wellbeing and being able to sleep.

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The A350 is quiet!

Bottom line

Both the 787 and A350 are revolutionary in terms of the opportunities they’ve opened up for new routes to be economically viable. These planes will have us flying more direct than ever before. From a passenger comfort standpoint they might not be quite as revolutionary, especially the 787, which is a tight fit in coach.

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Qatar Airways 787 business class

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Qatar Airways A350 business class

Do you have a preference between the 787 and A350?

Comments

  1. “four reasons I prefer the 787 to the A350.”

    Oops. Your introduction is backwards.

    I’ve not been on the A350 yet. My lone 787 flights was in TG C class which was not great at 2-2-2 config.

  2. “4 Reasons I Prefer The A350 To The 787”

    “All that being said, I do have a preference between the two planes, and figured I’d share four reasons I prefer the 787 to the A350”

    I’m a little confused, Lucky! I guess it’s a typo in the second example!

    Besides that, thanks for your point of view!

  3. How does the A350 shape up in terms of cabin pressurisation? I have only been on the 787 and for the first time in my life I didn’t experience the excruciating ear pressure that I always do during descent.

  4. @Ben

    The camera angle is deceiving in the photos of the aircraft; the A350 almost looks like a skinny 757 (but with big engines). Are those correctly labeled? Or, as I mentioned, is it just the lens/angle?

  5. @ Seattle Eric — Indeed labeled correctly, it’s a very wide angle lens, which is why it looks so narrow, I think.

  6. @ K — Hmmm, I don’t have serious issues in that department, but I found it to be roughly comparable.

  7. Whatever else anyone might think of Airbus planes, they almost always win out Boeing for economy passenger comfort. 12 hours in the back of a 787 is torture but, whilst not exactly my favourite, it is bearable, even moderately enjoyable in an A330 or an A380.

    I’ve not yet flown an a350, but I am keen to try. The Finnair experience looked lovely and I’m going to try and go that was from Aus to Europe next time.

  8. Can’t wait for A350-1000 and 787-10 which (hopefully) airlines will retrofit first class on them. That’s where the real differences can be seen.

  9. Haven’t been on the A350, but the A380 SQ Suites was so quiet that I didn’t bother to take the Bose noise-canceling headphones out of their case, even to sleep. That was a first for me. 🙂

  10. But what about the carriers, which do they prefer? Did the initial fiasco with the 787 batteries affect the sales? Are the companies buying more A350 for the tail camera, superior windows, better economy and quietness? Are they going neck to neck or do we already have a favorite?

  11. You are spot on with this! I agree 100%

    I was trying to figure out why everyone was so excited about the 787. Unfortunately my experiences have been in poor 787 products (Japan Airlines business class 787 from YVR-NRT with the slanted not even flat seats)

    The A350 has been excellent, and is definitely my choice. Flew Finnair and thought that their product (I know not a Qatar) but still it is good too.

  12. It was Boeing’s “intention” for airlines to configure the 787 8-abreast? No. They purposely left enough cabin width for the 9-abreast they knew practically every carrier would want, despite their mock-ups and glossy marketing photos of an economy cabin no passenger would ever actually experience. 17″ is torture on a long haul flight. I will never select this aircraft if I end up stuck in Y on a long haul.

  13. Personally, this “comparison” seems fairly trivial to me. If I’m an economy passenger, I’m guessing that flight cost and perhaps schedule are going to be far more important than a little bit more noise, windows, tail camera, and even slight differences in always crammed economy seats; ultimately, I’d guess that it comes down to price versus seat width/pitch as a sliding scale. If I’m a business class passenger, I’d also guess that schedule and cost and route ease will trump any of the listed variables for. 99% of passengers; after all, business class offers eye coverings and ear plugs anyway, making the subtle differences in noise and cabin lighting relatively innocuous for most,

  14. I am dying to fly the A350, though the 787 is just fine to me. It seems interesting that the 787 was so hyped and appeared to take up so much of Boeing’s energy and focus, whereas the A350 was almost kind of an afterthought for Airbus (which instead focused on the A380).

  15. I did find the 787 seemed to have a bit more moisture in the cabin.

    as for the JAL 787 JL65 from san to nrt, no first class, same for JL707 nrt, bkk
    and the partial flat seats are not comfortable.

  16. Aren’t the A350 windows wider while the 787 windows are just taller than old airliner windows? I think wider windows are probably better if you want a view while taller ones might let in more light. Still, window shades are a great amenity; even the Canadair jets have them.

    How does the pressurization work on the MEX-NRT flights where MEX is actually above the pressurization altitude of the jet? Do you get on the plane at MEX and then your ears pop as the plane takes off because of rising pressure? That seems especially perverse. What if there’s a MEX-BOG or MEX-UIO flight someday on one of these high pressurization jets? Do the passengers just suffer with high pressure through the flight and relax only on takeoff and landing?

    I think MEX-ADD would be a nice 787LR route someday. That’s high altitude on both ends and regular widebodies couldn’t make it.

  17. @Wheels Up SEA

    I think JL went with 8 wide on their 787s except the short haul ones. But the Japanese are known for being wide butted heavy people and demanding a lot of personal space, so that makes sense.

  18. @Lucky We need a followup post to this one on how to detect the difference between the two jets when planespotting. There’s the ridged cowling on the 787, but that doesn’t even show up in your photos. From the front do we just need to memorize the windshield shapes? Is there another obvious difference? Winglets?

  19. Not the fairest comparison, in that the A350 is a dressed-up A330. In size I believe it’s closer to a 777. My vote goes to 787 because it’s really something new and innovative, not a warmed over version of an older airframe.

  20. I do not feel that the relatively trivial and highly subjective basis for preferring one of these crafts over the other is worth a post…

  21. “you can get a proper night of sleep in a dark cabin — cheers to that!”

    Didn’t you grow up in Florida? Still on New Zealand accent?

  22. @John

    The A350 may be an incremental upgrade of an airframe with roots in the A300, however Airbus appear to have come up with an aircraft with superior comfort and comperable performance to the 787, with a much smoother and timely entry into service. As an engineer I’m going to pick the A350 for that achievement alone, no prizes for achieving much the same result with better tech.

    Probably what even more galling for Boeing is how close the A330neo will come to the 787 in performance at a much lower sticker price; that said Boeing can cry into their massive 787 order backlog so it probably doesn’t sting too much.

  23. @Ben – following your blog, I snagged two business class seats for my wife and myself on the Etihad JFK-AUH-BOM end Aug/Sept return and will be getting to ride the A350 4 times !!
    Thanks Ben

  24. @Andrew F

    I guess you are referring to A380 and not A350.
    But have an excellent trip..Etihad A380s are revolutionary and they definitely have reimagined flying! My best flight ever was AUH-JFK! Enjoy!!

  25. @john- yes. I actually struck the lottery there. Got both seats on points 🙂 and what from I have heard the A380 is better than the A350. .but never flown either I am going to just savor the experience !!

  26. @Ben

    I totally agree! A350 is superior to the 787. Flying in 787 economy is torture! The longer the route is the worse it gets.. doesn’t matter if it is British Airways or Qatar or Air India or Ethiopian! All are painful

  27. But isn’t a cabin where you don’t have to deal with the window shades being closed at the mercy of other passengers better than having the shades block all the light?

  28. @Andrew F

    A380 is my favorite aircraft to fly on. I almost always go out of the way to fly long haul on A380 if I can! Business on Etihad is a great product I bet!! It’ll be interesting to see how Etihad A380 experience is on a short haul from AUH to BOM. And you’ll also get to use their lounge! <3

  29. My goodness, talk about being off relating to economy class. Both 787 and A350 are VASTLY SUPERIOR to a 777, 747 or A380… You have a lesser chance to be stuck in the middle sits. You have 0 (ZERO) chance of being stuck in the middle of a row of 5 seats (AA 777). I sorely miss my good old 767’s 2-3-2 configuration.

  30. @carlos

    Clearly you need to fly an A330. 2-4-2 in economy with a nice wide seat. I think I’d always pick an a330 in economy if available and if a similarly configured a330 upper deck economy were not available.

  31. I don’t understand the gripes about the 787 windows. I’ve flown the type quite a few times now, including several long haul flights, and the cabin has always seemed just as dark with the windows fully dimmed as with traditional window shades.

  32. I haven’t been on the planes yet, but from what I can see I would prefer the 787, I like to keep my window blind open when flying, yes it annoys people but then they should have booked a window seat. I love the view of a sunrise/sunset from a plane, why do airlines force us to shut the blinds when it isn’t a normal time to sleep according to the place we are heading/leaving? I do look forward to flying on both planes but in the mean time look forward to your reviews.

  33. I almost typed you get a complimentary emergency landing with B787, oh well a A350 just had cabin pressure loss and emergency landing.

  34. I love the 787 windows and the fact that there are no shades. It is great to always see outside. Shades totally defeat the whole purpose of the dimmable windows. The 787 windows can be darkened sufficiently for sleep and watching videos. On the 350, people will now shut the shades rather than dim the windows. So why have dimmable windows?

    The most comfortable long haul economy seat I’ve experienced was on a VS 787-9. In spite of a full plane with 3x3x3 economy seating, what made this seat so comfortable was the headrest. It actually supports the head. That is the only economy seat I can say that about. But that, like many of Ben’s issues, is a matter of how an airline finishes the plane and not anything intrinsic to the airplane itself.

  35. Living in Qatar gives me the chance to try both B787 (Stockholm, Copenhagen, Madrid) and A350 (Frankfurt, Singapore).

    Agree with Ben on the small details. There is something more than maybe could not be described with words, and it’s a sense of ‘better quality’ in Airbus than Boeing.

    Don’t get me wrong, both are great, it is just an edge of quality in A350.

    Maybe it’s just me.

  36. My experiences with the 787 been on Jetstar 787-8 Business (once …it’s like premium economy…and complete rubbish) the Etihad 787-9 (first class …. 4 times practicaly identical hard product to 777-300ER and A340-500) and Qatar 787-9 in business class (which is identical to their A350 business class).
    On the A350 I have only been on Qatar (twice in business class) and Finnair once (biz class).
    I would suggest the planes are very close on most aspects. The 787 feels more “hi-tech” to me with that wing flex looking awesome, it has better bathrooms and a lower angle of attack on take off which makes it seem smoother. The A350 has easily more room all around, it has a almost flat ceiling which gives a real impression of space and its easily quieter in operation … paticularly at cruise (which is odd given the A330 is one of thea noisest most annoying aircraft out there for noise levels and pitch of that noise).
    But A350’s don’t offer first class on long haul so for now I’d choose a Etihad 787 but when Singapore gets their A350-900ULR’s with suites class it is going to be a no branier win to the A350.

  37. Having flown both types multiple times with the almost identical QR interior, I completely agree with Ben, albeit in reverse order of importance as to how he listed the 4 items. I feel that Airbus really thought hard about what truly makes a difference to passengers, and delivered on it, while Boeing focused on cramming as many people in and creating needless frills for their marketing brochures. I agree with Paul above: the A350 is better quality.

  38. @Antonio C.

    I totally agree. Airbus is all about going the extra mile, even if it’s just on tiny details the ordinary traveller might not notice (apart from economy class seat width!) The window dimmers on the 787 seemed cool but in reality they were just impractical. I would pick the A350 over the 787 as it hasn’t experienced any major problems yet and I would feel safer flying it. Also, who doesn’t like quiet aircraft?

  39. @paul pope

    The A350 has only been delivered to 4 airlines (Singapore is next!) and most airlines like Qatar, TAM, Vietnam, Finnair don’t have first class products (excluding TAM and Qatar as they want to add them only to their ultra long-haul fleet e.g 777, A380) and so many airlines have 787s! For sure when Etihad takes delivery of their A350s they will configure them with their new cabin products (Business Studio, new First Class) but for now we just have to wait until Airbus releases the -1000 variant and then airlines will add first class. I would still always pick the A350 to the 787 though!

  40. Airbus have admitted that at least one customer has ordered their A350 with 10 abreast seating in economy, which will probably be just as bad, if not worse, than 9 abreast on the Dreamliner. Wouldn’t surprise me if many carriers retrofit their A350s with 10 abreast at a later date – just like how every airline had 9 abreast on their B777s initially, but now 10 abreast is the norm.

  41. I actually like the 787 windows. When all windows are dimmed, the cabin has this bluish, otherworldly glow. Like traveling deep below the ocean. Love it.

  42. I flew on QR’s A350 and 787 on the same trip so I could compare them side by side. I agree with you on all counts and I would pick the A350 over the 787. I was in the business class cabin on both flights and you could definitely tell that the A350 felt more spacious. The dimming windows on the 787 sounds cool in theory but its a pretty impractical and stupid idea.

  43. Which airlines are retrofitting their 787s with blinds? Does anyone know if the blinds are placed in addition to the dimming system or as a substitution? I feel like this system is great for when stubborn passengers insist on having their shades open at inconvenient times; the crew can just dim all windows at once without having to ask person by person.

  44. As an engine designer for a major turbofan engine manufacturer, an aircraft qualification engineer, and an aviation aficionado, I actually have some disagreements with the points in this post. My company provides engines to both Airbus and Boeing so I don’t have any conflicts-of-interest. Frankly, I want both aircraft designers to buy as many of our engines as possible. These views are based upon my colleagues’ and my experiences with both aircraft during qualification and commercial service.

    The biggest criticism that I have about the 787 is its reliability and endless delays; but as a technology, it is expected because it is very simply the future of MEA (more-electronic aircrafts) and really the next generation. Yes, the A350 provides fewer difficulties (although I must mention that there are many glitches, which are just not as highly publicized in the media), it is not exactly ground-breaking but more an iteration of the existing technology. However, the glitches with the 787 are slowly being sorted out.

    My colleagues and I prefer flying the 787 on any long-haul flights – but there is a caveat. Being engineers and developers from our company, airlines always provide us with premium cabin space. Boeing did not want its economy class customers to have 9 abreast seating originally, but the economics make it too attractive for the airlines.

    Although the economy cabin on the A350 may have more room, I think there are three very important factors, which are essential for the physical well-being that the Boeing 787 excels at and the A350 simply does not: 1. Higher cabin pressure preventing DVT and improving the respiratory and circulatory functions of the body, 2. Higher cabin humidity preventing dryness, fatigue and migranes, and 3. an independent (non-bled from engine) and true HEPA climate control system for further comfort and better respiratory function. All of this translates into a physiologically more comfortable flying experience and is something that my friends, colleagues and I can definitely sense over the 800,000 or so miles that each of us fly with airlines throughout the year for work.

    I have heard some criticism of the shutter-less windows, but I have also heard an equal number of people who like them (such as me). Personally, the small amount of light that bleeds through never disturbs me on my daily trans-Atlantic flights. Furthermore, in my experience, the choice of engines defines the noise levels inside the 787 – generally my flights on the 787 have been quieter than the A350 (and I know this because a noise exposure meter is something I am allowed to carry with me) with most of the noise attributed to wind shear and not the actual engine.

    Lastly, all of our high-altitude tests have shown that the 787 is superior at dampening turbulence (largely thanks to its higher operational ceiling and the pliant supercritical wing design along with the active turbulence mitigating algorithm which makes slight manipulations of the control surfaces on the 787-9 and the expected 787-10 (this cannot be achieved by the lower speed hydraulics used on the A350).

    To be honest, I think both aircraft are a win/win for the passenger in terms of cheaper flights between more destinations. However, from the technical perspective of an aerospace research engineer, the 787 is the future of aviation while the 350 is a stepping stone for Airbus towards the 787. Which one would I actually fly? Neither, since I am only licensed to fly the older twin aisles (747-400, 777-200LR, A330-300 and A340-XXX). Which one would I travel on? Doesn’t matter as long as its up front.

  45. So nice to see a decent article from Lucky, and one I completely agree with to boot.

    I took the advantage recently to fly both the B787 and A350 multiple times, across short haul and long haul sectors, on Qatar (in Business Class).

    I liked the A350 much more – even though the Business cabins are mostly similar.

    My favourite thing is the cute toliet door knobs on the A350, which add a touch of class (the 787 has the traditional knob type).

  46. Wow – can’t believe that I came across this article so late. I agree with Gerard’s comments. My company manufacturers the avionics for both aircraft and I have had consistently better in-flight experiences (noise, atmosphere, comfort and smoothness) on the 787 over the 350 when the 787 is fitted with the GenX. The Trent on the A350 and the 787 appear quieter up front but the three-spool design creates a high frequency noise in the economy cabins that many passengers have complained about and something that we have continuously measured.

    I would fly a 787 with the GenX any day. If using the Trent, I would fly on the A350 – the aircraft contains more acoustic padding to isolate sound whereas the GenX has more sophisticated noise signature mitigating technologies to reduce the noise generation upfront.

  47. Air New Zealand 787 would have to be the worst jet aero plane I have ever endured. Noisey, cramped, seats designed for a bmi of 25 , floor vibrates so much I had to stand on my pillow to stop pins and needles in my feet. Arm rests are two fingers wide. Aisles so narrow you have to dance sideways up them.
    Whoever dreamt of dreamliner name was surely dreaming. This krap plane was built for profit not comfort. Never again give me Airbus anytime

  48. Landed on this page as I am evaluating a trip to Boston through QR on a DOH-BOS A350. Never took an A350 so far but I did fly on a B787-9 on KLM and the comfort was outstanding. Probably first time in life I could sleep in Y class. Air quality was superb, quiet, large screen, dimmed windows. Some told me it depends from the airline and I truly believe this. Having 9 seats per row doesn’t promise more comfort but now I am curious to try and will revert back here with my experience.

  49. I once went into the cockpit of a BA Boeing 757 (this is back in the good old days). He liked Boeing as Fords’ that go on and on for ever and Airbus he liked as Mercedes. Now that I’m over 60; I know what I’d choose.

  50. I’ve flown on both and the A350 was more confortable. Not having a computer under every seat, this provides more leg room than the 787. Also interior seems more spacious and nicer on the A350.

  51. I have yet to fly either one of the new A350 or 787 but my previous experience as a passenger on both Airbus and Boeing planes was as follows:

    1) The Airbus planes’ cabins were more comfortable, especially in terms of air circulation and ventilation, i.e. more airy cabins;
    2) Although airlines tend to place more seats in each row, many Airbus planes tend to offer a more passenger friendly 2-4-2 seating arrangement where any passenger does not have to cross over more than one other passenger to get to the aisle;
    3) From the A300’s to the A330’s that I flew from 1980 through 2015, these planes were more quiet, in terms of cabin noise, than the 707’s through 767’s that I flew from 1979 through 2015. When one of the airlines that I flew last year changed the plane last minute from an A330 to a similarly sized 767, I immediately felt the downgrade in passenger comfort, friendliness, and cabin quietness.

    These are my two-penny input. Thanks.

  52. Just to be fair to the Boeing planes, as to the 777’s, however, I had a very different experience where the planes I flew had very airy and quiet cabins. The only drawback was the seat arrangement where these cabins were laid out in a 3-4-3 (rather than a 2-4-2) format. Both companies strive to make good planes and I can’t wait to board both A350’s and 787’s to experience the latest in air travel!

  53. If only Airbus could deliver a few 350s more of us could try them. Over 450 787s in the air – how many 350s? What I want to know is which one is more fuel efficient? Enough side by side ops to give us an answer – but the airlines seem to be mumm.

  54. Airbus win again

    Par the 777, Airbus Aircraft dominate over Boeing.

    And proof again, havent been on the A350, and will be flying the 787 later on this year, on a transatlantic flight. But from what I hear, and A350 is flying miles ahead of the 787. I was looking at some figures, yes the 787 Has slightly more baggage room, and range. But the A350, looks extremely more comfortable and wider.

    Looking foward to trying the 787, but I already expect the A350, to be better

  55. This article and some of the comments are completely ill-informed. The 787 is the most advanced plane on the market and the result of billions of dollars of R&D in designing a next generation airframe. The a350 was developed as a knee-jerk reaction by Airbus as a direct result of needing to offer a similar competitive product to Boeing.

    Only it isn’t similar. The a350 is an updated a330 with smaller technological upgrades – composites, wings, engines and controls.

    The only really important reason why Boeing is now 20 years ahead of Airbus and why the 787 is superior is because it doesn’t use ‘bleed-air’ to pressurise and provide cabin air. Boeing chose to re-invent the wheel completey (putting you the passengers first for a change!) resulting in cabin air being sourced from the underbody of the plane through a dedicated air filtration system – essentially meaning when you fly 787 (aka Dreamliner) you aren’t breathing in air that has passed through the first stage of the combustion process via the engine. One of the primary reasons cabin crew, pilots and regular flyers suffer from health problems from effectively mild blood poisoning from contamination of air sourced via this process. Airbus openly stated it wouldn’t invest in this process on ‘cost’ grounds.

    This alone is why the 787 is worlds apart. To be arguing about 1″ seat difference in economy has nothing to do with the plane. That’s an airlines specification choice – not Boeings.

    In addition – to suggest less noise on the a350 without doing any testing is really just plain ignorant.

    If I had 250 million bucks lying around – I’d order a 787 any day of the week. Airbus have built a technically inferior product. Boeing now have a 20 year lead to refine technology Airbus couldn’t be bothered to invest and explore. Time to sell those Airbus shares.

  56. Setting aside hyperbole and subjective bias which seems to be this piece’s prevailing constituent components, any reasonable person would acknowledge 787’s vast superiority regardless of however individual carriers may choose to equip and implement them which almost always becomes the primary criterion from which people choose their preference – purely as a passenger rather than an operator or societal member. If Ryanair were to adopt an all-A350 fleet, its vomitus-stained carpets, humming lavs and back breaking seats would have the world singing 787s praises in unison.

    Regardless of all other criteria, 787 is superior simply because flying aboard it is less dangerous. It’s higher cabin pressure and true fresh air filtration mitigate DVT, airborne pathogens and other potentially life-threatening phenomenon. 787’s superior ambient comfort merely is a bonus further in Boeing’s favor. Presuming all other characteristics meet the basic operational and economic requirements of both carriers and passengers, all else is secondary but not unimportant.

    787 is a quantum-leap design to which Boeing needed to commit years before having anyone else’s practical experience to draw upon. Boeing not only developed the road map, it simultaneously needed to invent topography and geography on which the map would be based – betting the come that carriers and the buying public would buy into its decade-long and scores of billions wager.

    Of course it had teething pains. All first-to-market revolutionary products do. None have been beyond the scope of reasonable expectation and each is being resolved in methodical Boeing fashion. In bringing 787 to market, Boeing assumed costs and risks with which no subsequent maker need concern itself.

    By contrast, Airbus had the benefit of Boeing’s investment in defining both the leading and bleeding edge at its disposal. Eschewing massive investments to deploy a composite fuselage, Airbus could freely chose where and where not it should invest and make business decisions which reflected the known quantity of strengths and challenges which 787 provided from the vanguard which 787 never had. Several more years of historical technological advances at its disposal and billions more to invest in engines have helped A350 to establish superior fuel efficiency – if not operating economics. The same is true of every other trade-off Airbus was able to weigh.

    These purely circumstantial advantages yielded some tremendous benefits to Airbus. In a rush to meet the surplus of demand which Boeing hadn’t already garnered, A350 coopted an A330 boilerplate. Despite being a perfectly sound business decision which would help Airbus meet the two most important priorities of speed to market and relative cost (despite A350 remaining considerably more expensive), it chose evolutionary over revolutionary at all others’ expense – especially the public whom its planes are meant to carry.

    In delivering highly fuel efficient point to point capacity relatively quickly, A350 is a resounding success – despite how Airbus has delivered and the petroleum crash negating a huge portion of the benefit every other A350 compromise was made to make possible. That’s great for FY 2016 and 2017. But what will the results be for customers and THEIR customers twenty years from now when each will have carried millions and operators are at a decision point about the next generation of commercial aircraft? Will Airbus’s 20th century cabin air engineering even comply with 2030 regulations?

    Furthermore, which maker’s plane will have done more to advance commercial air travel by funding tomorrow’s quantum steps like Boeing already has taken? Airbus is a wonderful maker of “me too” products. With the exception of Antonov’s penchant for smashing through mass and capacity records and Airbus’s penchant for cockpit joysticks, only one true innovator exists behind which the rest of the world, including Airbus, aligns itself. Even A380 came nearly 40 years later than the Boeing which defines the segment.

    In a similar vein, one also should consider the nature of both businesses and how they’ve come to exist. To no small extent Airbus is the subsidized marketing arm of the European Union and rarely has competed on an even playing field against others daring back to Lockheed, Douglas, Fokker and BAe’s existences. Only Boeing had sufficient critical mass to innovate and compete based almost entirely upon the profits it earned from the value it created throughout.

    Unfortunately, on the heels of the GM and (to a lesser extent) Chrysler bailout, one no longer can assume Boeing’s future depends solely upon its own abilities. Nevertheless, its past and present are largely devoid of the direct political and economic favoritism which saw Airbus emerge from regional consortium to global eminence. When making their own travel decisions, passengers should want and do all they can to support businesses that create value rather than consume it as everybody benefits from the former and the latter exists at everyone’s expense.

    787 and A350 both are perfectly capable aircraft which can meet their operators’ basic needs and passengers may enjoy virtually unprecedented comfort aboard either, though 787’s enviornmental systems and turbulence mitigation capabilities can deliver health and comfort advantages which A350 simply cannot. The former benefits all passengers and the latter only those who otherwise would’ve encountered turbulence. But only one plane represents a true advance in the art and science of air travel and has a demonstrated of delivering as much as it can rather than as little as it must.

    Global air travel may need Airbus and A350 to fulfill unmet demand, but it wants Boeing and 787.

  57. On the dreamliner can breathe better it seems.Its also quieter than a320 and b777.But in turbulence I found the dreamliner very rough.The wings look too small and seeing the wings moving is a bit distressing.The a330 and a380 seemed better in turbulence than the dreamliner or maybe it was just very bad turbulence that I experienced .I’ve never been on a350 so no comment.

  58. It looks like some of the last comments reveal a serious lack of aerospace insight. First, many of the systems that were developed for the A350 were first undertaken for the A380 and was improved upon for the A350: IMA (Integrated Modular Electronics); AFDX (Avionics Full-Duplex Switched Ethernet); double-hydraulic/double-electric (2H/2E) flight-control architecture and the variable frequency electrical generation system philosophy 5000 psi hydraulic system – this, just to name a few of the innovations brought forward by the A380. The electro-hydraulic actuators on the A380/A350 are not just electrically controlled (pretty much all actuators on these planes are), but also electrically driven. That is the new aspect there. The self-contained hydraulic component effectively just acts as a local transmission, replacing mechanical gears with pumps and cylinders for practical purposes, but it’s an electric motor doing the actual work. Only with the 787, did Boeing introduce similar systems. Thus, Airbus had the opportunity to take the whole system architecture from a rather recent ircraft (the A380) that had the latest electrical design with non gearbox generators etc. If Airbus had decided to go “bleedless” on the A350, they would have had to develop something totally new, with it’s risks – which was obviously not worth it for the seemingly rather miniscule gains achieved with the 787. Also, how bleed air is used on aircraft has moved on from the DC-8/707 days in a pretty dramatic fashion. Boeings most recent system architecture before the 787, was the 777 with its old style gearbox fixed frequency generators (etc.). They wanted to upgrade and went the whole way, while incurring significant more risks along the way.

    As for the “bleedless” architecture of the 787, one should note that energy is not free. If energy is removed from the engine, it must have been generated by the engine. The removal of the energy that is converted to electricity – that could have been otherwise used to turn turbines – does have an impact on efficiency, as well as sizing of the engine. Pneumatics is a known mature technology, both for manufacturers and regulatory authorities. Removing pneumatics does not remove the need for the functions that they do – they were replaced on the 787 with electrics. The electrical system then becomes critical from a regulatory point of view, so much so that it helped cause significant delays. What you need to look at is the total system’s efficiency, including weights, complexity and efficiency of all the pumps and actuators downstream. When you’re drawing power from the shaft, you automatically divert both compression again and possibly thrust (depending on which one you’re tapping). Shaft power isn’t free either. It moves several additional systems to the electrical domain. That is a simplification on one side, but it’s also a complication on the other (a major one, apparently, regarding pressurisation and air conditioning). The question is the resulting balance between the two. The global system views will have to compare. Efficient power extraction becomes irrelevant when you’re losing the advantage in distribution, re-conversion and added redundancies.

    In short, it will make sense to go “all-electric” when the OEM’s develop an airliner having engine features such as an electrically distributed propulsion system*. Believing, therefore, as “RW” is doing upthread – that Boeing somehow is “20 years ahead of Airbus” – is nohing but completely unprofessional (Boeing) fanboy drivel.

    * http://www.airbusgroup.com/int/en/news-media/media~item=be674db0-2b69-42f6-946a-03cf3b0eef32~.html

    As for the large fuselage “panels” on the A350 vs. the “full barrels” on the 787 – we’re still talking about “black metal” adaptations for composites. Hence, neither the 787 and A350 are really fully optimised for carbon. Taking full advantage of carbon means much less use of fasteners (i.e. by at least an order of magnitude) and co-curing not only stringers with the fuselage skin – as it’s done on the 787 and A350 – but co-curing/integration of the skin/stringer assemblies with the fuselage frames as well. The problem is, that doing all this on a 787-type “full barrel” does not seem to be very practical at all – that is if you want to fully optimise carbon for aircraft manufacturing. Furthermore, large composite fuselage panels have an added advantage that their properties can be fully optimised (i.e. lighter) to whether they are side, crown or belly panels. Also, manufacturing large panels generally include easier handling, smaller and less expensive autoclaves (etc.) than what’s the case for a “full barrel”. So, the 787 “full barrel” fuselage sections may, in fact, look like another technological dead-end. Here’s one concept that differs significantly to the 787 “full barrel”:

  59. I’ve flown recently on a Finnair A350 and I think it is certainly one of the best aircraft I have been on. I travel predominantly long haul on 777’s and the occasional A380. The A380 is definitely quiet but for some reason does feel a bit “last generation” on board the ones I have been on – don’t get me wrong, it’s hugely impressive but I actually feel quite cramped, both on the upper and lower decks when I compare it to a single deck aircraft. The best thing is the silence and smoothness of the A380.

    For me, the 777 is a good aircraft but it’s definitely noisier and I notice that I come off it feeling more jetlagged than on the newer planes.

    The A350 however fixes what I don’t like about the other long haulers. It’s silent, I’d say more so than the A380. It’s spacious – weirdly so when you get on and once the overhead bins are shut. The ceiling height feels high compared to the A380 and certainly the 777. In turbulence I felt that it would hit a patch and then it would quickly smooth out – I am not sure if this is by design or if it was just the type of turbulence that we hit but the ride was definitely smoother than I had experienced before. The lighting on the A350 is clever too and I definitely felt that the air was noticeably cleaner – on landing after 10 hours I didn’t have the dry eyes and skin I associate with long haul normally. If I was being picky, I have never understood why Airbus has gone to the effort of making their newer aircraft near silent only to have the flap extension/retraction sound likes it’s happening inside the cabin! Admittedly it’s only for a small portion of the flight but it’s loud – probably more noticeable because it’s generally so quiet.

    Also, for Finnair specifically I have to say the toilets were very 1990’s. Why invest in brand new aircraft and then clearly skimp on the toilets? They weren’t nice. We flew on the newest one (LWF) out and it was at least clean and new (not new style, just new old style). On the first A350 (LWA) on the return leg the toilet was horrible and it was only 11 months old! The plastic was cracking, things looked dirty and worn – they really have saved some cash in the loos on Finnair!

    Overall, definitely my favourite aircraft to fly on. Not tried the Dreamliner but the 3-3-3 does put me off with reports of it feeling cramped. I’m not rushing therefore to try it.

  60. As a 787 pilot, I appreciate the A350 EFB “electronic flight bag” over the one on the 787. I have looked at the pictures of the A350 and the EFB looks much bigger, brighter and higher resolution than the 787 screen. I also like the viewing angle (in line with the front screens) vs the 787 EFB which is down and to the side, especially in a bright sun situation. This is important when shooting an approach, transitioning from the HUD to looking down and cocking your head to an angle to read chart information. On the Airbus, the glance would still be down, but the reading angle more closely matches that of the HUD and PFD “primary flight display”.

  61. For clarification, the EFB screens on the A350 are the two most outboard on the front panel. On the 787, they are off to the sides next to the steering tillers.

  62. I like yourself, have also flown A350 & B787 on QR & A380.. on every airline except Korean and Emirates (A380). I have to say i don’t find the A380 that comfortable unless your in First Class apartment in Etihad- the cabin conditions especially downstairs (MAS) at front are way too dry air- when compared to 787 and A350. Whilst I agree with you on Qatars versions of A350 and B787, i like how it is wider and the options they have gone for. But all in all it depends solely on the options the airline chooses, an example is the complete opposite is flying VN airlines B787 is way better in Business class than their A350. VN went with very few options on their A350 such as no overhead Air vents which I like in economy. There is also no enhancements such as mood lighting. In terms of economy class for the 787 – Oman Air, Hainan and China Southern even AZAL have really comfortable seats compared to Qatar which fix you in place with annoying headrests. .I also have to say 787-9 the windows do go much darker as noticed on JAL. So my point is it really does depend what options airlines choose, I was even told by senior Vietnamese management that the comfortable air condition lower pressure is an option by Airbus not as standard like 787. They choose not to have it. When talking to cabin crew across all airlines, they all seem to be Team Boeing, they all hate the airbus and have to say based on service, which my job is to judge the service is a less efficient on A380.

  63. Totally agree! I am no Airbus Fanboy, flying 737NG’S for a crappy Airline, But I do prefer the 350 to the dreamilner, even for it’s aestethics, altough the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Now it will be another story when comparing the 330 NEO which has a smaller fuselage diameter Than the Dreamliner and comparing The 350 with The 777 X witch has a larger fuselage diameter than the 350 but well, For now I am just In a hurry to see the 350 dash 1000 complete with engines, Great article! Cheers.

  64. Range, cost of operation (fuel efficiency and service intervals and maintenance) for airlines and pressurization, air quality (humidity and temperature), head room, lighting, width, speed, for passengers. All objective measures not subjective as are your metrics. Spend a little more time thinking through the problem and you’ll find that perhaps you are wrong. Thanks though

  65. shallow content article
    350 was a catch up game to 787

    787 was truly innovative plane, modern materials to fuel efficiency
    Boeing took a big risk and pulled it of

    Same suppliers supply airbus as boeing so once it is made copying is super easy these days

    Not that I am a big fan of aviation industry as whole as Materials 787 adopted were out there for like 20y

    380 is a product management disaster and was in no way innovative it takes for ever to get in get out requires airports to refit … list goes on no wonder all orders are drying up

    i am not european or american so in no way i am biased but boeing in general has a impecable safety record
    have you ever heard of a boeing 777 droping from sky mid flight, its peer 330 yes …
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_447

    infact all major airliners complain of numerous problems 330 gives, if read you would never fly one

  66. If you are very serious about your health, the 787 must be your choice. Flying on the 787 means that I am taking care of my life. Clean and pure air are only available on the 787. This is a winner over the 350

  67. the noise level is a very good point. The other 3 are not, in my opinion: I have never found the lack of window shades on the 787 to be an issue at all (I wear eye shades anyway and don’t find the windows of the 787 that bright when dimmed). In fact, it’s one of my favorite features, and my friends who have flown the plane liked it too. So this is a personal preference, and I suspect the people having issues with them are in the minority.
    The 9 across seating on the 787, isn’t really a fault of the plane but of the airlines, who are incessantly coming up with new ways to punish us. Wait until they’ll cram 10 across on the A350 🙂
    The air quality and humidity etc is far superior on the 787 as was pointed out, and that for me is the deciding factor- i’ll fly a 787 over any other plane, any day, because of how much better my throat feels when I land.
    I’m sure that B787 and A350 are similarly safe as aircraft and that each airline will crunch their own numbers on fuel efficiency and operating cost etc. That is going to determine which plane wins out, in the end.

  68. Wow… some of you are really off track. Lucky’s article is strictly about the “Feel” of these two aircraft from a passenger perspective.

    So many of you go off on tangents about engineering, systems and materials that the common passenger doesn’t know nor care about. All they know is how it feels when they sit their butt in the seat for 10 hours staring at a ceiling and cabin walls.

    Superior engineering, blah, blah. If that’s all that mattered, then the composite body electric BMW i8 should be the best selling sports car in the world, but it isn’t, because it doesn’t “Feel” like a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi R8, etc.

    Lucky, thank you for a great article about flying both aircraft from a well versed passenger perspective.

  69. The Boeing 787’s biggest advantage over the a350 is the minimum cruising speed. The b 787 can cruise 30 knots faster decreasing flight time. I have flown on the b 787 Executive class(Business class) and in the middle hours of the flight the airline auto dimmed the windows to max. There was no light coming inside the cabin. In flight the b 787 has a humidity level of 40% which is better for the passenger health and feels more homely compared to basically any other aircraft in the world. However the two aircrafts should not be compared because they have different advantages and disadvantages depending on the airline route requirement. Example:B 787 can cruise 30 knots faster shortening flight time while the A350 XWB is cheaper to fly by $0.67 per nautical mile carrying more passenger at the same time.

  70. Before you all choose which one, I would suggest you watch “Broken Dreams” by Aljazeera on you tube-the 787.

  71. Love the 787, love the clean air, love the fresher feel after a 12 plus hour flight, love not having a dry throat and eyes during flight, love American made. I fly 500,000 miles plus each year and 787 is my first choice, 777 my second. The A350 was built to compete with the 777 not 787. 787 is king of its class as the 777X will be also.
    I have worked in Aviation as Maintenance Engineer for past 30 years. Airbus is cheep and Boeing is quality. 737 vs A319, 320, 321 or 787 vs A330 Neo, 747 Intercontinental vs A380 or 777 and 777X vs A350. I just spent 6 months in UAE with the airlines in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Both have reservations with the A350 for maintenance reasons and actual efficiency. One is going 777X over A350 while the other has delayed their A350 purchase.
    On the maintenance perspective I will take a Boeing any day of the week,

  72. So, regarding the previous comments…

    Which airplane is better for passenger comfort without considering the interior seat configuration in the decision?
    Boeing 787 due to its superior cabin air and pressurization system.

    Which airplane is better for passenger comfort based on the operating airlines current interior seat configurations?
    Airbus A350

    Which airplane may airlines prefer if they can afford it?
    Boeing 787, or whether the airlines want to buy an American (with global suppliers) or European product.

    Which airplane is a better airplane for the airline?
    That depends on the route, fuel costs, and the airlines budget.

    Which airplane is more advanced technologically?
    Perhaps the Boeing 787, but the Airbus A350 also has some unique design elements of its own.

    Finally, I want to conclude with saying that no airplane should be judged based on the current airlines interior configuration because that is able to be changed and customized at any moment.

  73. I just flew 787 from Rio to Casablanca. I booked a window seat just to be able to “play” with electronically dimmed window shade. I thought it was great until the morning sun came up: although all windows were dimmed, you could feel all the heat comming from the sun, so after two hours I was begging for an old style shade!

  74. Good to read an American commentator praising the A350! Over here in the UK we have got used to the totally partisan bias from the American media. To my mind they both deserve all the credits given, I personally would choose the A350, but then I have been on both!

  75. I definitely agree on the silence factor. I’ve flown both 787 and 350 and it is possible to carry a conversation with a flight attendant (and me sitting) in a 350 without yelling. I actually recall removing my noise-cancelling headphones on that 350 flight because they were unnecessary. 787, has a window in the toilets, which is nice.

  76. Ive not flown in a 787, but i have recently flown in an A350 from the UK to Brisbane (Around 18 hrs in total) and i have to say its a great aircraft. Its roomy, love the landing gear/tail cam feature, its comfortable, flies so smoothly (flew through turbulence and hardly even recognised it) and I think it just looks great too. Would definetly like go in one again.

  77. This article is incorrectly biased.

    I can’t understand how the commentator does not take into consideration the simple fact that that Airbus merely studied the 787 and copied it accordingly to suit their interests. Yet he moves on with his comparison as if both airplanes were presented at the same time. Amazing, just amazing.

    If it wasn’t for the 787, the A350 would be of no existence. Simple as that

    Next time

  78. I have to say I take Qatar airways from LHR too HKG every 2 months, the Humidity and nose control !! A350 & a380 definitely win!!

  79. I fly transatlantic routes approx 14 times per year from the UK and have done for the last 5 years.

    Like the cars we drive, I like to understand what I am trusting my life with 28 times every year.

    Here’s what I know as a simple layman. Not many of us passengers know how poor the air we breath on flights is and how much it’s damaging our health. Or how many cabin crew and pilots suffer with health issues from blood poisoning to respiratory issues every year – it’s huge. (I believe this is one of the biggest cover-ups in modern aviation)

    Ever sat on a plane and suffocated because of the stench of plane-fumes in the cockpit? You’re being poisoned. The plane you’re sitting on – which is the same for every plane in the world EXCEPT the Boeing 787 – draws in the ‘fresh’ air your breath through the engines.

    As the engine combustion process happens – some air goes into the engines – the rest is diverted to provide air we breath. If the engine is faulty – leaking oil etc then that makes its way into the air we breath.
    (Av geeks chill your beans – I know I’ve simplified this pneumatic process considerably but the fact remains)

    So for me – by flying on a Boeing 787 – which doesn’t get cabin air from the engines but instead from dedicated filters under its belly – you’re ultimately saving your life.

    Agreed on comments above – Boeing put passengers first and ‘bet the family silver’ on developing new technology that we the passengers should be thanking them for.

    Every other plane in the world – airbus350 included – is a copycat product – where airbus openly admitted on cost grounds they wouldn’t copy the 787 design.

    For me it’s simple. Health comes first. Travel isn’t going anywhere. The more people who know this the better. We should be applauding an American company for putting the consumers health and well-being first. Rather than airbus building a cheap product that allows us to travel fractions of a dollar more cheaply – but kills us in the process.

    That’s my take. Hope that makes sense to fellow passengers.

    Fred.

  80. I’m not objecting to these points, as they’re based on your experiences. But, with the exception of the window shades, all the points you mention are either dependent on the airline’s configuration itself or where you’re sitting in the plane. Regarding the tail camera, that’s common on practically every a350. However, Singapore Airlines, which is arguably one of the best airlines in the world, actually doesn’t have a tail camera on its a350. Even though that’s the only airline that I’m aware of that chose to forgo the a350 tail camera, it’s clear that that is an airline choice. The size of the seat is even more of an airline choice. Perhaps in general, a350 seats are larger due to the wider cabin width, but even then, it’s still an airline choice. How the cabin is configured (2-4-2 vs 3-3-3, and what the seat pitch is) is entirely up to the airline. Finally, in terms of noise, the more forward you are in the plane and/or the further away you are from the skin of the aircraft (like if you’re sitting in the middle of the middle row as opposed to a window seat), the quieter the flight. Perhaps the a350 does better, but if anything, a lot of the advantages you’re talking about are more functions of the airline and seat location than the aircraft itself.

  81. exactly my point
    with 787 boeing really pushed the bar
    350 just copied at mimimal risk
    sort of iphone samsung story
    but i was snubbed saying this article is merely about passenger comfort
    as if the knowledge of an airbus 330 droping from sky has nothing to do with passenger comfort
    so my take is this is article is skin deep writen by and for shallow people consuption not a rigrous evaluation of two products

  82. In coach/economy – no comparison A350 is miles better there is far more space . The 787 is very uncomfortable with your shoulder pushing against the wall or passenger next to you.

    To be frank when I’m flying couldn’t care less about economics , technology , etc. only care about the comfort so I steer clear of the 787.

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