The Airbus A318 Vs The A321 – What Are The Key Differences?

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For nearly three decades, the Airbus A320 family has been a familiar sight at airports around the world. Today, we compare two of the aircraft in the family on either side of the spectrum – the A318 and A321.

Airbus A320 Family
The Airbus A320 family is massively popular across the globe, but we will be looking at the shortest and longest models of the four variants. Photo: Airbus


For this article, we will be comparing the A318-100 with the A321-200. There is no New Engine Option (NEO) version of the A318 and the A321-200 is the most prominent variant of the Current Engine Option (CEO) series.

All about size

Right off the bat, let’s address the most noticeable difference between the two narrowbodies – the length. According to Modern Airliners, the A318 measures at 103 ft 2 in. Meanwhile, the A321-200 is 146 ft long. This figure is just under 43 feet longer than the A318.

It’s not just the length that’s the only difference when it comes to size. The A318 has a tail height of 41ft 1in while the A321 is 38ft 7 in here However, there are similarities with the build. For instance, they both have the same fuselage width of 13 ft 0 in, fuselage height of 13 ft 7 in, and cabin width of 12 ft 2 in.

Nonetheless, the extra length of the A321 gives opportunities for more capacity. The A318 has a freight capacity of 749 cu ft while the A321’s amount is over double at 1,827 cu ft. Moreover, in the all-important passenger field, the A318 has a typical searing of 107 while the A321’s number is 185.

A318-getty
With the larger statute, the A321-200 is considerably heavier with a Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW) of 206,000 lb compared with A318’s figure of 150,000 lb. Photo: Getty

A veteran in the industry

The A321-100 made its first flight on March 11th, 1993 before Lufthansa introduced it in 1994. After that, the A321-200 made its commercial debut with Monarch Airlines in December 1996. Airbus is proud of the plane’s stature, offering plenty of space for passengers.

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Airbus shares the following about the A321ceo on its website:

“As the longest-fuselage member of Airbus’ best-selling, single-aisle A320 Family, the A321’s cabin offers passengers even more space in which to relax and enjoy the flight. Able to comfortably seat anywhere from a typical 170 to 200 passengers in a standard two-class cabin to 220 travellers in a more high-density layout, the A321 – with a wider cabin than any of its competitors – continues to define the meaning of single-aisle comfort in operations around the globe.”

Airbus A320 Family Comparison
A comparison of the four aircraft in the CEO series of the Airbus A320 family. Photo: EgyptAir

A new requirement

The A318 performed its first flight on January 15th, 2002 before being entered into service with Frontier Airlines in the following year. Notably, it was being introduced approximately a decade later than the original A321. Airbus highlights its high performance but small size as key factors to offer significant efficiency for carriers.

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Airbus highlights the following when it comes to the A318:

“Typically seating between 90 and 110 passengers, the A318 brings all the advantages of the A320 Family to a variety of possible routes suitable for a slightly smaller aircraft. With one aircraft in four sizes the A318 offers unbeatable fuel-efficiency, exceptional operational reliability and superior passenger comfort – qualities which help make the A320 Family the most successful aircraft family ever. Its enduring quality highlights the brilliance and innovation at the heart of Airbus.”

British Airways Airbus A318-100 climbing out after take-off
British Airways shares that thanks to the plane’s steep approach compatibility, the airline can fly long-haul from London City Airport. Photo: Getty Images

The A318 also has less range than the longer variant. It has a range of 3,100 NM while the A321-200’s offering is 3,200 NM. The CFM56-5B and PW6000A series of engines are certified for the A318. Meanwhile, the CFM56-5B and IAE V2500-A5 series of engines are certified for the A321ceo. Nonetheless, when it comes to key differences between the twinjets, it is the size that matters.

What are your thoughts about the A318 and A321? How has your experience been when traveling on these two jets? Let us know what you think of the pair in the comment section.

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