Planes can hold anywhere between 1 and 853 passengers, with the exact number of passengers a plane can hold depending on its type and configuration.

Some planes are designed with more passenger space than cargo space when compared with other planes, and inevitably, larger planes can hold more passengers than smaller ones.

The Airbus A380 can carry 853 passengers, the most of any plane, but future planes will likely hold more than 1,000 passengers.

Developments in lightweight construction materials and improved wide-body designs will make this possible. 

Number of Passengers a Plane Can Hold

Planes can hold anywhere from 1 to 853 passengers, with the number depedning on its type and model.

For example, the Boeing 737 carries up to 189 passengers, and the Airbus A380 carries the most passengers at 853. 

These are the number of passengers the following planes can carry: 

Small Planes

  • The Cessna 172 Skyhawk can carry four passengers. 
  • The Piper PA-28 Cherokee can carry four passengers. 

Private Jets

  • The Gulfstream G650 can carry 18 passengers. 
  • The Bombardier Challenger 605 can carry ten passengers. 

Commercial Airliners

  • The Airbus A320 can carry 150 passengers. 
  • The Boeing 737-800 can carry 189 passengers. 

Military Planes

  • The C-17 Globemaster III can carry 102 passengers. 
  • The C-130J Super Hercules can carry 92 passengers. 

Factors That Determine How Many Passengers a Plane Can Hold

A plane’s size, its configuration, and the weight of its passengers and luggage onboard determine how many passengers the plane can hold.

Some airplanes can seat more passengers than others, while other planes of the same size are designed to have more extra cargo space than seats.

Each plane has a maximum payload it can take, and the airplane cannot be allowed to exceed this weight.

So a plane may fly with fewer passengers than its total number of seats if the passengers weigh more.

Number of Passengers on a Domestic Flight

Most domestic flights carry between 50 and 150 passengers.

The exact number depends on the type of plane, the airline, and the route flown.

A larger plane may hold 150 passengers, but a smaller regional plane will carry only 50 passengers. 

Number of Passengers on an International Flight

International flights carry between 200 and over 800 passengers.

The exact number of passengers depends on the flight’s destination, departing location, and the flight’s length.

Generally, smaller planes on shorter flights will have fewer passengers than larger ones. 

Number of Seats Per Row

Most rows have between 3 and 10 seats.

The number of rows depends greatly on the type of aircraft and the cabin’s configuration.

Smaller regional jets only have two seats in a row, but the largest wide-body aircraft have as many as ten seats in a row in a 3-4-3 configuration.

Planes Will Hold More Passengers in the Future

Planes will hold more passengers in the future.

The development of lighter materials, more efficient engines, and new aerodynamic designs allow planes to become larger and more efficient.

So future planes may hold over 1,000 passengers. 

How Big Are Commercial Airliner Seats?

Economy class commercial seats are usually between 17 and 18 inches in width, with between 28 and 32 inches of legroom.

Business and first-class seats can be up to 21 inches wide with more than 32 inches of legroom.

The seat pitch (distance between seats) is usually between 30 and 34 inches for economy-class seats and up to 60 inches for business and first-class seats. 

In conclusion:

  • As many as 800 people can be seated in an airplane.
  • Smaller planes naturally hold fewer passengers than larger ones.
  • The exact number of passengers that an airplane can hold depends on the aircraft’s type and configuration.
  • Some aircraft will be configured with more cargo space and fewer passenger seats and vice versa.
  • Commercial aircraft can hold the most passengers, while small planes hold the least.
  • Planes in the future will likely be able to hold more passengers.
  • The development of new lighter building materials and better designs will let future planes hold more passengers. 

Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.

Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.

Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.