The Airbus A321XLR vs Boeing 757 – What Plane Is Best?


American Airlines has started talking to Airbus to replace its fleet of aging Boeing 757s

Airbus A321XLR
Airbus A321XLR vs Boeing 757. Photo: Simple Flying

Their aircraft of choice? The very interesting Airbus A321XLR, a long-range narrowbody that has many airlines turning their heads. If American Airlines commits to the new aircraft, it will be a massive boon to an aircraft that has failed to capture the imagination of the airline market so far.

But how does it compare to the original Boeing 757? Let’s have a look.

What is the Airbus A321XLR?

If you are unfamiliar, the Airbus A321XLR is a special variant of the Airbus A321neo. The XLR, standing for eXtra Long Range, is from special engine selection, larger fuel tank (in exchange for passengers) and a composite Airbus NEO fuselage.

the A321LR
The Airbus A321XLR would have weight and wing improvements to give it greater range than the LR. Photo: Airbus

Airbus is still developing the aircraft and is just 200 nautical miles shy of its advertised range (see below). Air Canada has expressed interest in the aircraft and believes it would deploy it on transatlantic routes.

How does it compare to the Boeing 757?

Let’s see how these two aircraft compare on range and passengers.

  • Boeing 757 can carry around 200-240 passengers to a range of 3,915 nmi (7,250 km).
  • Airbus A321XLR can carry 206 passengers to a range of 5,000 nmi (9,300 km).

Right away we can see that the Boeing 757 variants can carry more passengers than the A321XLR, but is beaten by the latter’s range.

If American Airlines is planning to replace the Boeing 757, it is unlikely that they are selecting the XLR for its longer range… which begs the question: if it comes down to passengers, is the Airbus A321XLR even a good replacement for the Boeing 757?


The Airbus A321XLR will bring plenty of improvements over the 757 in terms of fuel efficiency, passenger comforts (such as LED lighting and better pressurization), larger overhead bins and modern aircraft controls. It would be a bit unfair to compare an aircraft that has been flying for 30 years to another that is yet to be built, but the Airbus A321XLR is excellent on paper.

Boeing 757
American Airlines Boeing 757 in historic livery. Photo: Wikimedia

Which is best?

The Airbus A321XLR will be an excellent aircraft, and the fuel savings from the newer engines and efficiencies will allow American Airlines to easily turn a much higher profit.

What is interesting is that Boeing is about to reveal a new aircraft that directly competes with the A321XLR, the Boeing 797 (You can see how they compare here). Whether or not American Airlines will commit remains to be seen. If they do, it will instantly launch the new aircraft into success in the marketplace.

What do you think? Is the A321XLR a good replacement for the Boeing 757? Let us know in comments.