Apart from some rare exceptions like Japan, the majority of domestic flights in most countries are operated by narrowbody aircraft like the Boeing 737 or Airbus A320. These are perfectly fine for short hops, but flying on a widebody jet is always just a little bit nicer.
In Economy, you’ll often have a bit more room to spread out on a widebody aircraft like the Airbus A330 or Boeing 787 – and easier access to the bathrooms, since there are two aisles. In Business, depending on the airline and aircraft configuration, you might even get a lie-flat bed!
For example, Qantas Business Class passengers on narrowbody Boeing 737 or Boeing 717 domestic flights can expect standard recliner seats in a 2-2 configuration…
But on Qantas Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 flights, Business Class passengers get a more private lie-flat suite with guaranteed direct aisle access!
If you’re flying on Jetstar and happen to be booked on a domestic Boeing 787 flight, you might even be able to upgrade from Economy to a Jetstar Business Class seat for as little as $32! Jetstar’s Business Class seats aren’t lie-flat beds, but they are considerably more spacious and comfortable than a regular Economy seat.
If you’re travelling within Europe, the difference between the Business Class products on a narrowbody vs a widebody plane can be even more stark. That’s because many European airlines don’t actually have proper Business Class seats on their narrowbody jets used for short-haul flights – instead, you’ll just get a regular Economy seat with the middle seat kept vacant…
But as European airlines generally use their widebody jets for long-haul flights, these are fitted with proper lie-flat Business seats. That’s quite an upgrade if you can find an intra-Europe Business Class flight on a widebody plane!
Unfortunately for passengers, short-haul widebody flights are quite rare. So how can you find them?
Of course, you can check the aircraft type when booking flights online. If you’re lucky, you may happen to find a flight operated by a widebody.
But this can be quite time consuming if you’re not yet sure which routes to look for. Thankfully, there are two much more efficient ways to actively seek out routes and flights operated by passenger-friendly twin-aisle jets…
Where The Widebodies Are
Seth Miller from Paxex.aero has created a unique online tool called Where The Widebodies Are that lets you easily search for widebody flights on any domestic route. For the purposes of this tool, anything within Europe is also considered to be “domestic” (since many European countries are too small to have any actual domestic flights).
You can search on Where The Widebodies Are by departure airport, airline and/or date. For example, you could search specifically for Qantas widebody flights departing from Melbourne Airport on 28 February 2022:
You can also run more generic searches. For example, you could search for all “domestic” (intra-Europe) widebody flights scheduled to depart from Brussels over the coming period:
Unfortunately, the tool isn’t always 100% accurate. For example, it sometimes includes cargo-only flights or international tag flights in the search results that you can’t buy a ticket on. In the above example, it also hasn’t found QF9 from Melbourne to Darwin, which continues to London. (Because this is officially a Melbourne-London flight, the tool probably considers it an international flight and therefore isn’t including it.)
Because ITA Matrix only shows flights with available tickets for sale, this removes the issue of cargo flights being shown or international flights not appearing.
The main downside with ITA Matrix is that you have to search by individual aircraft types – so you would need to manually search for flights operated by Airbus A330s, Boeing 787s, Boeing 777s, Airbus A350s, and so on, to get all the widebody results. You also need to search for flights on specific routes, rather than just searching for all flights departing from a given airport – although you can include multiple origin and destination airports in your search.
To search by aircraft type on ITA Matrix, you can add an “aircraft” Extension Code to your search. For example, to search only for Boeing 787 flights, you can type “aircraft t:787” into the Extension Code box. You can also search for multiple aircraft types in the same search, as shown below.
In case you’re interested, here are the results for the above search:
If you click on a date (e.g. 28 March), you can then get a breakdown of available flights that match the criteria in your search:
(You can ignore the prices shown for Qantas domestic flights on ITA Matrix searches, as only Qantas Flex fares are shown for some reason – even if cheaper fares are available to book on the Qantas website.)
As an alternative method, you can also exclude aircraft types from ITA Matrix searches by adding a “-” symbol before the word “aircraft”. For example, typing “-aircraft t:737” into the Extension Code box would eliminate any flights on Boeing 737s from your search results.
Of course, there is one big caveat when booking a flight specifically for the type of aircraft – they are subject to change! There could be an aircraft swap, even at the last minute. If this happens, you generally won’t have much recourse as airlines do not guarantee flights will be operated by any particular aircraft type.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Where The Widebodies Are