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.

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