Is the airplane you’re travelling on ready for the junkyard?



Most travellers would be horrified to find out the plane their flying across country in is over 20 years old. Based on information from Airfare Watchdog, there are a number of ways to determine whether your airplane has been flying the friendly skies from your childhood up through your adult years!

Models such as the Boeing 717 and previous editions of the 737, 757 and 767, are still up in the air. Most of these planes are well over 20 years old. Though Airfare Watchdog says, just because an airplane is old, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unsafe. Still, it’s good to know if you’re older than your plane.

Australians will be happy to know Qantas airline’s flotilla of flying machines are on average, around 7.9 years old. They’re quite young compared to Delta’s fleet which hovers around 16.9 years of age.

According to Airfare Watchdog, tatted seats and worn material are considerable signs your air vessel may be getting up in age. You are able to check a plane’s age by asking for the plane’s registration number, also known as  the N-number or tail-number on U-S planes, then head over to to check its age.


Here are other age-detectors to watch out for courtesy of Airfare Watchdog:

  • There’s an ashtray in the lavatory or on the seat’s armrest.
  • There’s a razor blade disposal slot in the lavatory.
  • There are video monitors hanging down from the ceiling.
  • There’s a no smoking sign above the seats rather than a “turn off electronics” symbol.
  • The in-seat power outlets are DC instead of 110-Volt (granted, some newer aircraft have no in-seat power ports at all).
  • There’s a stairway to the outside in the tail.
  • The flight attendant call button icon is wearing a skirt or it’s labeled “stewardess.


  • There are three engines instead of two or four.
  • The company that made it no longer makes the plane.
  • The company that made it no longer exists.
  • The economy class seat padding is more like a La-Z-Boy than a church pew.

old plane

  • There’s a landing gear over the tail instead of at the front (a DC-3).
  • There’s no landing gear. But you’d be flying in a Pan Am Flying Boat. And you’d be time traveling.

About Author

Tracee Tuesday

Tracee Tuesday is a travel writer, radio and television personality.Her mission is to inspire, inform and equip you with information necessary to experience the most amazing trips that are fun, affordable and culturally broadening.In her pastime, Tracee enjoys: white water rafting, astrobiology, zoology, traveling, music, horseback riding, and is an all-out foodie.