This is a follow-up to my Part 1 Plane Spotting Guide, where I covered how to tell the difference between major airliners just by looking at them. In this second part, due to popular request, we’ll look at how to differentiate between model variants, again just at a glance.

777-200 vs 777-300

The -200 is a shorter plane, and the easiest way to tell a -300 from a -200 the number of doors. Whilst the -200 has four doors on each side, the -300 has five per side, with one over the wing. The 777-200 can also be differentiated from a 767 by the fact that a 767 has 4 wheels on each set of aft undercarriage, whilst the 777 has 6.

A318 vs A319 vs A320 vs A321

A321 is very easy to tell apart because it has five doors on either side of the fuselage. It’s also just pretty big! And by that logic, the A318 is pretty small – short, fat and cute! The A320 is harder to tell from the A319, the only noticeable difference being that the -320 has two over-wing window exits either side, while the A319 only has one.


A340-200/300 vs -500/600

Airbus ceased production of the A340 in 2011, unfortunately. I always had a soft spot for them. As a result, the older generations are a very rare sight these days, but for the sake of thoroughness, the -200/300s have four doors on each side whilst the -500/600s have five.  Pictured below is an A340-200, then A340-500

747-400 vs 747-8

Finally to the Queen of the Skies. The classic 747-400 can be easily differentiated from the less popular, modern 747-8 through the latter’s serrated engine nacelles, much like on a dreamliner. Boeing claim this reduces noise significantly. The 747-8 (a bigger aircraft) also has a larger ‘humped’ top deck, with an extra few windows.


Final thoughts

The more you practice, the better you’re going to get at telling the difference between these beasts! Of course there are more variants out there, but these are the main tricky ones. If you have any others that you get caught out on/are interested in, be sure to let me know down in the comments, and I’ll be sure to make a part 3.