I always rather liked the 146s, but not in the configuration that British Airways latterly employed with 3-3 seating. The fuselage diameter could only ever support 3-2 comfortably; 3-3 meant that the window seat occupants always ended up with their necks being forced inboard by the curvature of the airframe! The big benefit of the 146, at least initially, was that it offered jet travel from airfields that couldn’t hitherto service anything other than props. And, back in the day, it was way quieter than a 737-200, a DC-9, a Fokker F-28 or anything else remotely comparable. Indeed it was marketed as the ‘Whisper Jet’.
Currently and looking to the future though, I would come down with a preference for Boeing longhaul and Airbus shorthaul.
I love the 747, from outside, inside the nose and upstairs. I’ve done a lot of 777 mileage on at least four different carriers in the last 12 months and I’ve really warmed to them. I expect 787 to be a step-change in cabin environment too (irrespective of how they’re furnished) with bigger windows, new air supply systems and the economic and operational ability to fly point-to-point routes that are not currently viable.
I’ve not yet flown A380, but the type seems to offer more shoulder space in Y than a 747 and a quiet cabin, but otherwise the praise it garners appears to come more from fixtures and fittings than the airframe itself. And boy is it an ungainly looking thing from outside – at least on the ground.
My A340 and A330 experiences are not, in general, as good as my latest 777 ones.
However, for shorthaul, and much as I like the 757 for its rocket-like take-offs and separate cabins on certain carriers, the A318/19/20/21 family knock the socks off the Boeing smaller jets. I’ve just done a lengthy 737-800 sector on a brand new aircraft (US transcon) and I was shocked at the noise and vibration in particular. The tighter cabin size was no surprise, but it was certainly noticeable compared to the Airbus competitor.