Most commercial planes burn several thousands of gallons of fuel per hour while flying.

For example, the Airbus A380 burns over 4,000 gallons of jet fuel per hour when cruising.

Most commercial planes hold several tens of thousands of fuel for that reason, with the Airbus A380 holding up to 82,000 gallons.

The exact amount of fuel a plane burns flying depends on its size, model, passengers, and routes.

Generally, fighter jets burn the most fuel and small planes burn the least.

How Much Fuel Plans Use

Boeing 747

If we take the Boeing 747-400F, which has 8 fuel tanks with a combined capacity of 57,164 gallons of Jet A fuel, we can see that each tank holds a maximum of 7,150 gallons of fuel.

Boeing’s website reports that the Boeing 747 burns around 5 gallons of fuel per mile, which translates to 0.01 gallons per passenger per mile on average for a variant with 500 seats. 

The Boeing 747-400F burns around 3,600 gallons of fuel per hour while cruising, which equals approximately 1 gallon per second or 60 gallons of fuel per minute.

The Boeing 747-400F burns around a tonne of fuel during the 15-minute taxi between its gate and the runway.

The Boeing 747 then burns around 5,000 gallons from takeoff until it reaches cruising altitude. 

Boeing 737

The Boeing 737-800 variant carries a maximum of 6,875 gallons of fuel, mostly in its wings and a fuel tank below the passenger cabin.

This plane has 3 fuel tanks, and each one can store a maximum of 2,300 gallons. 

A Boeing 737-800 burns between 100-120 gallons of fuel during take off, depending on its variant, and it burns around 60 gallons during taxiing. 

The Boeing 737-800 usually has 162 passengers. So, during cruising it burns around 750 gallons of fuel per hour, which equals 12.5 gallons of fuel per minute or 0.2 gallons of fuel per second.

It also burns 0.0104 gallons per passenger per mile. 

Boeing 777

The Boeing 777-300ER variant has a maximum fuel capacity of 47,890 gallons stored in its three wing tanks, each of which carries up to 16,000 gallons.

Boeing reports that the 777 travels between 76 and 82 miles per gallon, depending on the flight’s duration.

The Boeing 777 has 301 passengers on average, so the plane burns between 0.013 to 0.017 gallons per passenger per mile. 

The Boeing 777 also burns around 2,500 gallons of fuel per hour or 42 gallons a minute or 0.7 gallons per second, but the exact fuel use depends on the plane’s model and configuration. 

This plane requires a minimum of 150 to 200 gallons of fuel during taxiing.

The Boeing 777 burns anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 gallons depending on the plane’s weight, model, elevation, and throttle position during take off. 

Airbus A380

The Airbus A380 has a maximum fuel capacity of around 82,000 gallons stored in 10 tanks, each holding up to 8,200 gallons of fuel.

The Airbus A380 burns an average of 4,062 gallons per hour or 67 gallons per minute and close to one gallon a second.

This plane also burns 0.012 gallons per passenger per mile. 

The Airbus A380 burns between 400 and 700 gallons during taxiing, between 8,000 to 9,000 gallons during takeoff, and approximately 70,000 gallons during cruising. 

Airbus A320

The Airbus A320 has an average total fuel capacity of between 6,400 to 7,980 gallons depending on the model.

All models also have 5 fuel tanks, each of which hold around 1,400 gallons. 

An A320 also burns 0.034 gallons per mile per passenger with 150 passengers.

The Airbus A320 burns around 1,875 gallons per hour during cruise altitude or 31.25 gallons per minute or 0.5 gallons per second.

This plane also burns 31 gallons per mile. 

The Airbus A320 also burns between 50 and 100 gallons during taxiing and another 500 to 550 gallons of fuel during takeoff.

How Much Fuel Small Planes Use

Small planes burn anywhere between 50–150 gallons per hour or 0.83 to 2.5 gallons per minute or 0.013 to 0.04 gallons per second.

The distance covered by a small plane per gallon varies greatly depending on the model.

As an example, the Cessna 172 burns 0.007 gallons to fly one mile. 

How Much Fuel Private Jets Use

Private jets burn between 150 and 600 gallons per hour or 2.5 to 10 gallons per minute or 0.04 to 0.16 gallons per second depending on the model.

The distance covered by a private jet per gallon can vary greatly by its model.

As an example, the Gulfstream G550 burns 0.53 gallons to fly one mile.

How Much Fuel Fighter Jets Use

Fighter jets consume more fuel on average than military cargo planes.

Under the conditions of dense air at sea level with maximum afterburner, the F-15 burns more than 23,000 gallons of fuel per hour or 385 gallons per minute or 65 gallons per second when flying at high speed.

The F-15 also burns around 2.3 gallons per mile under these conditions. 

In contrast, military cargo planes use less fuel.

For instance, the C-130 H requires 740 gallons per hour or 12 gallons per minute or 0.2 gallons per second.

The C-130 H burns 2.20 gallons per mile. 

Planes Are Much More Efficient Than Cars

Despite the huge amount of fuel that commercial airliners burn on a flight, there are actually much more efficient than cars.

If we take a 747 that is carrying 500 people 1 mile using 5 gallons of fuel, it is burning just 0.01 gallons per person per mile

To compare, a typical car gets about 25 miles per gallon per person.

Amount of Fuel Burned on a Flight From London to New York

A Boeing 747-400 flying to New York from London requires around 21,000 gallons of fuel on average.

But, the exact fuel used to fly from London to New York depends on the plane’s model, weight, and weather conditions.

So, a plane could use more or less than 21,000 gallons to fly from London to New York 

Air Travel is Definitely Bad For the Environment

Air travel is an energy-intensive activity, and carbon emissions by airlines have grown by 75% from 1990 to 2012.

If the world’s aviation industry were a country, it would be within the world’s top 10 carbon emitters.

Air travel is responsible for 12% of all travel emissions internationally and 2.5% of global carbon emissions. 

In fact, the carbon emissions from a single flight can be as high as the carbon emissions of a car in a year.

In short, air travel is bad for the environment, though they are much more efficient than cars.

However, planes dumping fuel has a negligible impact on the environment.

Fueling an Airplane is Expensive

The Boeing 747-8 costs between $170,000 to $200,000 to fully fuel.

But, the exact cost of fueling an aircraft depends on its size, model, fuel prices, type of fuel, and intended route. 

In conclusion, commercial airliners easily burn many thousands of gallons of jet fuel while flying.

These planes hold many tens of thousands of gallons of fuel for that reason.

The exact amount of fuel used by a plane during a journey depends on its model, size, and intended route.

Generally, fighter jets burn the most fuel, and small planes burn the least for the same amount of flying time.

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.