Are the golden days of flying domestically on spacious widebody, twin-aisle aircraft gone? Not necessarily, if you know where to look.
All four major US international airlines — American, Delta, United and US Airways — still operate a handful domestic widebody flights. These big birds are either providing a lot of seats on high-demand routes, positioning planes from hub to hub, offering premium products on valuable flights, or adding temporary capacity for special events. Sometimes widebodies are deployed for short periods of time, like Air Canada’s positioning of a Boeing 767-300ER on SFO-Toronto for four months this winter. Hawaiian Airlines flies only widebodies from the mainland to Hawaii.
Whatever the reason, it’s a bonus for passengers, since widebodies tend to give you more room (or at least the perception of more room) than single-aisle narrowbodies, no matter where you’re sitting in the plane. And internationally-equipped widebodies often offer more robust on-demand entertainment, power outlets, USB sockets, bigger bins and other bells and whistles.
Up front on a widebody, you could find a fully flat bed seat à la international business class to stretch out — usually for no extra fee over domestic first. But not all domestic widebodies offer big new seats up front… notably, US Airways’ 767-200s have older cradle-style sleeper seats, and Delta’s domestic 767-300, coded as 763s, have standard domestic first class seats (see photo).
But how do you find them? Savvy travelers know where they are, but the airlines don’t make it easy when hunting for a flight.
One good tool for finding widebody flights is Routehappy, the half flight search, half data source startup that matches aircraft types to flights and scores them by comfort and amenities. (Disclaimer: an author of this post used to work there.)
We asked Routehappy to show us all the widebody planes jetting around the US on a given day: October 1st, in this case. Here’s what they found. Note that the big birds are on not on every flight, every day– just a chosen few. Also, there are no consistent trends showing that airlines price widebody flights higher than narrowbody flights.
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AA’s domestic widebodies are almost exclusively hub-to-hub.
You’ll find DFW-LAX and Miami-SFO flights using a 767-300ER.
LAX-Miami has a variety of 767-300ERs and 777-200s.
And passengers on Miami-Orlando get a nice, wide 767-300ER for the one-hour ride across the Everglades.
Delta Air Lines
(Note: Delta recently stopped allowing Routehappy to display its inventory on the site, which is too bad. But we’ve located a few here anyway…)
Delta is the sole remaining airline to fly 767 widebodies (76w) on its transcontinental flights between New York and LAX and upfront on that route you’ll find its Business Elite seats. There’s also a 767 between JFK and Detroit with Business Elite up front.
You’ll also find Delta 767s (with domestic first class) on flights between Atlanta and Las Vegas, LAX, Orlando, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, SFO, Salt Lake City and Tampa. Atlanta to LAX passengers can also hop on the ultra-long-haul 777-200LR, which positions to LA from its ATL home for the Sydney flight.
Hawaiian Air flies both Airbus A330 and Boeing 767s between the mainland and Hawaii– a standout as several carriers are now sending their single aisle planes down to the islands. Hawaiian’s A330s offer domestic style recliners in first class, as well as premium economy (“Extra Comfort”) seating in the fore cabin of the plane. Note: Hawaiian has single aisle Airbus A321s on order that will eventually replace some widebodies from the west coast.
United is the only airline to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner within the USA. You’ll frequently find those on flights between Houston and Denver, LAX, and SFO. (The Houston-LAX flights will even get the brand new stretched 787-9 Dreamliner!)
United 767-300ERs jet between Houston and Washington Dulles, Newark and Chicago O’Hare. You can also find them between Newark and Dulles or SFO.
Serendipity intervened last week when TravelSkills editor Chris McGinnis went out to SFO last week expecting to board a United 757 for the four-hour flight to Houston, but ended up in a internationally configured 767 with an upgrade to Business First. 🙂
Before US Airways and its rather elderly 767-200 planes disappear — it’s the only US carrier still using the stubby little widebodies — you can find them between Charlotte and Orlando or Philadelphia, and on Orlando-Philadelphia, but less frequently than the other airlines.
What’s your favorite domestic widebody flight? Which ones did we miss in our quick round up? Please leave your comments below!
–John Walton & Chris McGinnis
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