Plane Spotting | Yes it’s a thing | How do you tell them apart?

Toronto Pearson Airport Layout + Runways

Working for an airline, you get worked up about planes. The types and the specs of them. Some planes are easy to spot and understand the types of them. But some of them are super hard when just looking at them. There are little tips on figuring out what they are.

In Toronto, there is a couple of spots you can go watch the planes come in or take off. The most popular is Runway 23 where planes come in from the east and fly over the Petro Canada Gas station and land. Over by the Fed Ex complex you can watch planes on Runway 15. And you have planes landing on Runway 6L or 6R. It’s tricky since planes will be diverted to different runways depending on the winds and also the time of day. Runway 23 is Toronto’s longest, so that is where you see the big heavy’s come in and you can park your car behind the gas station and there is a Wendy’s if you need a snack. Quite not like LAX’s In-Out Burger where you can eat yummy food and plane spot. Download Flightradar24 to check out where the planes are coming in from. If they are coming in the other direction on runway 05 the vantage on Dixie Road is not the best like Airport Road.

Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-400 on final approach at Toronto Pearson on Runway 23

Boeing 747 vs Airbus A380

This is the easiest of planes to tell the difference between these two “heavy’s”. These two planes have upper decks. The Boeing 747 has it for the first 1/3 of the plane. In the old days, Pan Am made this a popular plane since the first class passengers could go up the stairs and enjoy a drink in the bar and lounge in the upper deck for intercontinental flights. The Airbus A380 has an upper deck that goes the full length of the plane. YouTube has a great documentary on the Airbus A380 from National Geographic which is worth the watch. If you want to watch another documentary on the A380, you can view this 3hr doc here.

The A380 was launched in December in 2000 and basically 10 years later Airbus has decided to stop production in 2021. It’s the largest commercial airline in the world. Check out Sam’s channel and his video about the rise and fall of this incredible plane.

So with these two… you just have to see if it has an upper deck and you can easily figure out if it’s a 747 or A380.

I flew on the Boeing 747 with Lufthansa (Class / Seat: Economy / 37A | Aircraft Type: Boeing 474-430 | Aircraft: D-ABTL / 17 Years Old)

I really want to fly on the Airbus A380 and I will have to get my ass to a city to fly Lufthansa at a discount to experience this flight. (LAX, SFO, NYC)

Boeings Queen Of The Sky + my personal fave the Boeing 747

Basics: Airbus vs Boeing Plane Spotting Tips

Let’s cover some basic tips before we start getting into some plane comparisons. Below you will see the nose differences and the cockpit windows. The Boeing windows have more of a “v” shape on the bottom and the Airbus is more straight and you will see the last window has a slanted edge in the top right corner.

Airbus on the left and the Boeing on the Right has a dorsal fin with more of an angle.
Airbus engines on the left compared to Boeing on the right
Airbus on the left is round and Boeing on the right is flatter at the bottom

Short Haul Aircrafts: Airbus A320 vs. Boeing 737

I’ve flown on the Airbus 319, 320 and 321.

Long Haul Aircrafts: Airbus A330 vs 787 Dreamliner

Boeing’s sexy jagged engine will help you determine it’s the Dreamliner with its big GE engine.
GE Boeing 787 engine with the sexy jagged design.

A year ago on a business trip, I was upgraded to business class on Air Canada’s Dreamliner which was my first experience to fly business class on an intercontinental flight.

Date: March 19, 2019 | Route: FRA YYZ | Flight No: AC877 / Operated by Air Canada | Class / Seat: Business / 8A | Aircraft Type: Boeing 787 Dreamliner / 3 Years old | Aircraft: C-FGEI

Airbus A340 vs Boeing 777

Airbus has four engines for this long wide-body plane. Boeing 777 has two big engines and no wingtip where the Airbus A330/A340 has a large wingtip.

Flew on the Airbus A340 from Lufthansa from Toronto to Munich on my way to Lisbon. I’ve flown the triple 7 once on a flight from Frankfurt to Toronto on my way home from Lisbon on Air Canada. I was told at the last minute to get on the plane and I had no idea what I was boarding till later.

Airbus A350 vs Boeing 777

Airbus A350 with it’s unique “Zorro” mask cockpit windows.
Airbus A350 sexy rounded wingtip.
Lufthansa’s A350 arriving in Toronto over Airport Road with it’s two big engines. 50% quieter and 25% more fuel-efficient making this aircraft the world’s airlines want to purchase due to its long-range and efficiency.

Wanna Try Plane Spotting?

If you want to try it. You can watch planes come in at London’s Heathrow Airport by watching this video on YouTube. I’m working on my personal notes and I’m going to update this post with more information and add some other aircraft that I didn’t mention. I’m looking forward to going plane spotting with my kids and see if I can get them to understand some of the differences. On our trip to Europe… Noah was making fun of me everytime I could hear a plane landing and I had to stop and watch it.

My mind is becoming a little AVGEEK hangout

the circle with the flying crane inside who started flying in 1919 allowed me to start looking into the world of avaitation and i’m thankful

from travel, airports, planes and the business of flying has lit a little light inside to travel and explore… it’s such a interesting industry that is ever changing and also challenging.

can’t wait for the next adventure

Fly Anywhere | Anytime | Forever

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IN THE early 1980s, American Airlines, strapped for cash, decided to start selling passes for unlimited first-class travel for life. At the time, the passes cost $250,000 (around $600,000 in today’s dollars), with a companion ticket available for an extra $150,000 and discounts for older people. The Los Angeles Times explains what happened next:

There are frequent fliers, and then there are people like Steven Rothstein and Jacques Vroom.

Both men bought tickets that gave them unlimited first-class travel for life on American Airlines. It was almost like owning a fleet of private jets.

Passes in hand, Rothstein and Vroom flew for business. They flew for pleasure. They flew just because they liked being on planes. They bypassed long lines, booked backup itineraries in case the weather turned, and never worried about cancellation fees. Flight crews memorized their names and favorite meals.

Each had paid American more than $350,000 for an unlimited AAirpass and a companion ticket that allowed them to take someone along on their adventures. Both agree it was the best purchase they ever made, one that completely redefined their lives.

In the 2009 film “Up in the Air,” the loyal American business traveler played by George Clooney was showered with attention after attaining 10 million frequent flier miles.

Rothstein and Vroom were not impressed.

“I can’t even remember when I cracked 10 million,” said Vroom, 67, a big, amiable Texan, who at last count had logged nearly four times as many. Rothstein, 61, has notched more than 30 million miles.

But all the miles they and 64 other unlimited AAirpass holders racked up went far beyond what American had expected. As its finances began deteriorating a few years ago, the carrier took a hard look at the AAirpass program.

Heavy users, including Vroom and Rothstein, were costing it millions of dollars in revenue, the airline concluded.

The AAirpass system had rules. A special “revenue integrity unit” was assigned to find out whether any of these rules had been broken, and whether the passes that were now such a drag on profits could be revoked.

Rothstein, Vroom and other AAirpass holders had long been treated like royalty. Now they were targets of an investigation.

******

When American introduced the AAirpass in 1981, it saw a chance to raise millions of dollars for expansion at a time of record-high interest rates.

It was, and still is, offered in a variety of formats, including prepaid blocks of miles. But the marquee item was the lifetime unlimited AAirpass, which started at $250,000. Pass holders earned frequent flier miles on every trip and got lifetime memberships to the Admirals Club, American’s VIP lounges. For an extra $150,000, they could buy a companion pass. Older fliers got discounts based on their age.

“We thought originally it would be something that firms would buy for top employees,” said Bob Crandall, American’s chairman and chief executive from 1985 to 1998. “It soon became apparent that the public was smarter than we were.”

The unlimited passes were bought mostly by wealthy individuals, including baseball Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays, America’s Cup skipper Dennis Conner and computer magnate Michael Dell.

Mike Joyce of Chicago bought his in 1994 after winning a $4.25-million settlement after a car accident.

In one 25-day span this year, Joyce flew round trip to London 16 times, flights that would retail for more than $125,000. He didn’t pay a dime.

“I love Rome, I love Sydney, I love Athens,” Joyce said by phone from the Admirals Club at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. “I love Vegas and Frisco.”

Rothstein had loved flying since his years at Brown University in Rhode Island, where he would buy a $99 weekend pass on Mohawk Air and fly to Buffalo, N.Y., just for a sandwich.

He bought his AAirpass in 1987 for his work in investment banking. After he added a companion pass two years later, it “kind of took hold of me,” said Rothstein, a heavyset man with a kind smile.

He was airborne almost every other day. If a friend mentioned a new exhibit at the Louvre, Rothstein thought nothing of jetting from his Chicago home to San Francisco to pick her up and then fly to Paris together.

In July 2004, for example, Rothstein flew 18 times, visiting Nova Scotia, New York, Miami, London, Los Angeles, Maine, Denver and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., some of them several times over. The complexity of such itineraries would stump most travelers; happily for AAirpass holders, American provided elite agents able to solve the toughest booking puzzles.

They could help AAirpass customers make multiple reservations in case they missed a flight, or nab the last seat on the only plane leaving during a snowstorm. Some say agents even procured extra elbow room by booking an empty seat using a phony name on companion passes.

“I’d book it as Extra Lowe,” said Peter Lowe, a motivational speaker from West Palm Beach, Fla. “They told me how to do it.”

Vroom, a former mail-order catalog consultant, used his AAirpass to attend all his son’s college football games in Maine. He built up so many frequent flier miles that he’d give them away, often to AIDS sufferers so they could visit family. Crew members knew him by name.

“There was one flight attendant, Pierre, who knew exactly what I wanted,” Vroom said. “He’d bring me three salmon appetizers, no dessert and a glass of champagne, right after takeoff. I didn’t even have to ask.”

Creative uses seemed limitless. When bond broker Willard May of Round Rock, Texas, was forced into retirement after a run-in with federal securities regulators in the early 1990s, he turned to his trusty AAirpass to generate income. Using his companion ticket, he began shuttling a Dallas couple back and forth to Europe for $2,000 a month.

“For years, that was all the flying I did,” said May, 81. “It’s how I got the bills paid.”

In 1990, the airline raised the price of an unlimited AAirpass with companion to $600,000. In 1993, it was bumped to $1.01 million. In 1994, American stopped selling unlimited passes altogether.

Cable TV executive Leo Hindery Jr. bought a five-year AAirpass in 1991, with an option to upgrade to lifetime after three years. American later “asked me not to convert,” he said. “They were gracious. They said the program had been discontinued and if I gave my pass back, they’d give me back my money.”  (CLICK BELOW TO OPEN REST OF ARTICLE)

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