Is the 737 perfect for trans-pacific flights?

The Boeing 737, everything was fine until Boeing pushed it to the MAX. It’s one of the most recognizable aircraft and they have second to none reliability, over 10,000 have been produced over the models 50-year history, they are popular and even today you wouldn’t struggle to find one. But what about pushing them to their limits in order to meet lower demand?

Firstly, we are talking about the 737-800 here, not any of the other variants so please keep that in mind. As you all know because of this current virus no Texans are allowed to visit Australia, this also means that practically no one else is travelling either, not really the best thing in the world but better than getting attacked by crazy Texans. So let’s talk about why this could be considered. Lower passenger demand when international flights reopen is the reality, much like 9/11 this current storm will get people off air travel for a while and there will be lower numbers of people wanting to travel. So what’s the answer for airlines?

Well let’s take Qantas’s A380 for example, they won’t be getting filled up if you took them on trans pacific routes, even their 787’s and A330’s might be too big for the expected low demand for their routes like Sydney-San Fransisco or Brisbane-Honolulu. So here are the options, leave half the seats on these widebodies empty or fly full narrowbodies, as a passenger I’d obviously prefer the widebody but airlines may not want to fly fuel-thirsty half-empty jets halfway across the world. So what’s the other option?

Like I have mentioned the 737 is an extremely popular narrowbody aircraft, aircraft that fly transpacific such as United, Delta, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Fiji Airways and American Airlines all have this aircraft in their fleet and mainly fly them domestically. The 737-800 has a range of 5,436km, that’s bigger than the length of Luxemburg, it can carry up to 189 passengers in a single class configuration, so what does this mean for trans pacific flights. For example, let’s say Qantas wanted to fly their 737 from Sydney to Los Angeles, the flight would only take around 3hrs longer than a nonstop one and only have 2 refuelling stops at Faleolo and Honolulu, it would also allow Qantas to save on costs due to the full aircraft. The 737 is also smaller so it could land at smaller airstrips for refuelling than the 787 for example while also having the ability to drop passengers at two destinations on 1 flight (Honolulu and Los Angeles) while using codeshare agreements with American Airlines to pick up Honolulu passengers to make sure its a full flight the entire way. So are there any issues?

Yes, the 737 isn’t designed for the long haul (but it can do it) and with no crew rest areas that could present some issues, no lie flatbeds for a 15hr flight in business could become an issue as well as fuel availability at smaller airports, catering availability and crew availability. It may also depend on the 737’s EFTPOS rating.

So should the 737 fly long haul, probably not regularly but it could be done sometimes in order for airlines to actually break even. The reliable narrowbody isn’t meant for this but flying over the world’s biggest ocean is something it’s up for and you bet it will cross it. What do you think?

Big oceans, no problem image credit


I’m not sitting in a 737 for a trans Atlantic, let alone a transpacific. Anything above 4hours is painful in a 320 or 737.


That would be cool to see Qantas using 737s at LAX, but I bet you absolutely 0 money that it will never happen.

Also keep with the Texas jokes ;D


No way. My decision comes down to the fact that most airlines operating Boeing single aisle aircraft have not got a good configuration. Now if we were to say would the Qatar A321 make a good Trans-Pacific aircraft, I would say yes as they have proper seats and IFE. Having flown on one for 4 hours, it was in my view as good as the wide bodies.


Jet Blue is planning on starting flights to Europe on 321s. At least they were before the virus hit. That’s probably the longest I’d go on a narrow body. No way would I ever fly trans pacific

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I would fly trans-Pacific on any plane you put me on. It wouldn’t make any difference to me whether ir not it’s an Emirates A380 or an Allegiant A319. If it can get me from point A to point B without crashing and at a price I could afford, then I have no complaints.


Norwegian does so TransAtlantic 737 flights, I don’t think it would be that much of a problem. It would just feel weird.


i have a better idea
using the boeing 737-700ER is better
the 737-700ER is an extended range version of the 737-700
it can go 9080 km non stop
is that better???




The B757 configs for the most part aren’t good, same as the B737 but marginally better. No IFE, no seating one would expect to find on wide bodies etc Delta is in the minority with their cabins.

Aer Lingus, Air Astana, Icelandair, United, etc all have PTVs

Icelandair has the same seats on the 767, as does American, so does UA (basically) with some planes, etc

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Aer Lingus clearly has the ancient seats just re upholstered with old IFE systems. These airlines you speak off don’t have many of these aircraft and certainly in Europe most are either retired or used for short haul hence no improved cabins. Hate to break it to you, but it’s between the B737 and the A320 family, the B757 will be long gone.

So what’s your point here?

I wouldn’t rely on any single aisle Boeing for a long flight. Tada

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I took an Air Canada MAX 8 transatlantic flight back in 2018, to London, from Halifax. It was around a 6 hour flight, and to be honest, that was one of the most comfortable flights I’ve been on. Keep in mind that this was in economy. The seats were wide, comfortable, and everything was just pretty top notch.

I’ve also taken a transcontinental flight on United’s 757, which is basically the same length as some of UA’s transatlantic 757 flights (maybe a bit shorter, but only by an hour or two), and that was a rather good flight as well. Responsive IFE (probably retrofitted), comfortable seat. I’d definitely consider taking both of those aircraft across the Atlantic. Not sure about trans-Pacific though, because those flights are a fair bit longer and would also require a stopover in ANC or HNL.

Low key just forgot about the 757. Go figure it’s my favorite plane too lol. I’d fly it trans Atlantic but not trans pacific though. And airlines though rarely have their 757s leave the country now. And if they do, it’s typically just to like the Bahamas or Mexico or something

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It’s certainly a concept they could play around with, but I believe people who know even the slightest bit about aviation will not fly a 737 for any longer than 5 hours. Plus, the fuel stops add extra time and money needed for the trip, making it very unlikely that this will happen.

I’m with KGJT on this one. I don’t really care that much on what aircraft. However I need either of the entertainment configurations to keep me sane during the long flight:

  • IFE
  • Charge ports and wifi
  • all of the above
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I think trying to avoid flying on narrowbodies long haul is fighting a losing battle. Once the A321xlr gets more popular it will be quite common

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As long as they aren’t outfitted with those horrible slimline seats that frontier or spirit uses now, the new A321 will be practical and comfortable!

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