The Boeing 757 vs 737 – What Plane Is Best?

The Boeing 737 is the world’s most successful commercial plane. More 737s have been ordered than Boeing 747s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s, A220s and A330s combined. But as Boeing has expanded the range into four generations (you can see the difference between generations here), they have started to encroach onto the territory of one of their own aircraft… the Boeing 757.

The Boeing 757 vs The Boeing 737. Photo: Wikimedia / Simple Flying

Both aircraft are designed for short haul domestic travel; both carry 200-300 passengers; both are single-aisle twin engines. So why is one discontinued, and the other the most popular aircraft ever built?

How to compare these aircraft?

With four generations of 737 and two variants of the 757, it might seem a bit complicated to bring them together for comparison. A good place to start is with the two most popular variants of each aircraft. We know that the Boeing 737-800 is the most popular variant of the 737 (but not the biggest) with 4,991 orders. The 757-200 is the most popular variant of that type with 913.

Let’s see how they compare.

  • Boeing 737-800 – 162 passengers to a range of 2,930 nautical miles
  • Boeing 757-200 – 200 passengers to a range of 3,900 nautical miles

In terms of passengers and range, the 757 easily takes the cake from the 737. The 757 is able to cross oceans and serve as an excellent point to point narrowbody aircraft (and the inspiration for a possible Airbus A370)

The Boeing 757 vs 737 – What Plane Is Best?
American Airlines Boeing 737-800. Photo: Wikimedia

What about the biggest 737 vs the 757?

As we mentioned in the introduction, Boeing has been slowly expanding the 737 range into the market of the 757. In fact, they recently announced a 737 MAX 200 variant for Ryanair, that can carry as many passengers as a 757-200.

Cherry picking the biggest passenger 737s vs the 757 gives us this result.

  • Boeing 737 MAX 10 – 230 passengers (one class) to a range of 3,300 nautical miles.

Thus, whilst the plane can carry as many passengers as a (smaller) 757-200, it can’t go the distance. Conversely if we looked for the best range 737, the 737 MAX 7 with a range of 3,850 nautical miles, it still doesn’t make the grade.

American Airlines Boeing 757 752
American Airlines Boeing 757-200 with winglets. Image by Wikimedia.

How much do they cost?

The Boeing 757-200 costs around $113 million USD in today’s currency, and the 737 ranges from $100-130 million USD.

Essentially, the price difference between the two aircraft is around $10 million dollars, which over an order for 100 aircraft is almost insignificant. Plus, it is not like the airlines would actually pay list prices.

So which is better?

The Boeing 737 fills a role in a high demand market, passenger services with bespoke point to point destinations at high frequencies. The Boeing 757 has struggled to find a similar market, and even spiritual successors such as the rumored 797 are only predicting  1/7 of the amount of success as the 737 program.

It would also be amiss not to mention the technology involved in the latest 737 aircraft (and also mention its failings in recent months that have grounded the aircraft) that provides even more power, range and cost savings than ever before.

As an airline, to choose between these two aircraft, a smaller 737 that could fly cheaper than the 757, or a harder to fill, more expensive to run 757, the choice becomes clear. The 757 might have a bigger range and more capacity… but not enough to break out of the 737 shadow.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.