Boeing 777
Boeing 777

Boeing’s 777: a Bargain-priced 'Better Bus'

Used copies of this aircraft, whose opulent cabin has room for you and 80 of your closest friends, are selling for as little as $3.5 million.

When Boeing delivered its first 777 widebody, twin-engine jumbo jet in 1995, airlines couldn’t get enough of them. 

The 777 is Boeing’s bestselling jumbo, with good reason. The world’s largest twinjet, it offers the perfect marriage of comfort, convenience, technology, and economy. The former CEO of Air France called it his airline’s “cash machine.” One globetrotter, who was among United Airlines’ first paying passengers on the airplane, called it “definitely the better bus.”

Indeed, the 777 was the first airliner Boeing made that was completely designed with software and incorporated full fly-by-wire (FBW) computerized flight controls and mechanical backups. Early airline passenger configurations featured twin aisles in coach with nine seats comfortably distributed across a cabin that is nearly 20 feet wide, more than seven feet tall, and 161 feet long on the Dash 200 model; a Dash 300 version adds 33 feet to the length. As for outside dimensions, the 300 model is 242 feet long with a wingspan of 212.6 feet, and the Dash 200 is only slightly smaller—209 feet long. 

Boeing 777 cabin Photo Dave McIntosh
Boeing 777 cabin Photo Dave McIntosh

But 27 years later, the aircraft is getting a little long in the tooth and Boeing is working on variants with refreshed cabins, updated avionics, and more efficient engines and wings. These versions, which are branded 777-8 and 777-9, should begin deliveries in 2025. They are expected to sell for $400 million to $442 million and already have attracted nearly 350 orders. A flying example of the 777-9 was the star of this year’s Farnborough International Airshow in the U.K., thrilling audiences with nearly vertical takeoffs.

Low Prices for Used Models

While the world waits for that aircraft, dozens of used 777s of all variants have already hit the resale market, partly due to COVID contrails and resulting reduced travel demands and partly because of $7-a-gallon jet-A fuel prices. If you’re looking for an airplane that can stay in the air nearly 20 hours unrefueled and transport you and 40 to 80 of your closest friends in ridiculous opulence nonstop on runs such as New York to Sydney, Australia or Hong Kong to London and beyond, this could be your ride. 

Boeing 777
Boeing 777

And there’s never been a better time to buy. Current prices for a used 777 range from as little as $3.5 million to $13 million for airplanes in airline configuration. (You can still pay $200 million or more for one that’s already finished to royalty standards.) That leaves a healthy pile of dollars on the table that you can use to fit a custom interior and buy fuel. And you will buy a lot of gas. 

The VIP configuration of the 777-200LR variant (LR stands for Long Range), which became available in 2006, can hold 52,721 usable gallons and burns 5.5 gallons per nautical mile. When it is fully juiced, fuel accounts for almost half its 766,000 pounds of maximum takeoff weight. And using all four fuel ports collectively drinking down 2,000 gallons a minute means the airplane takes more than 26 minutes just to refuel. One port at a time and it’s nearly two hours. Indeed, fuel capacity at destination airports limited adoption of the 200LR “Worldliner” by the airlines to just around 60 aircraft in the entire production run of nearly 1,700 aircraft to date—outselling both the quad engine 747 and 767. 

Early Dash 200 models could be ordered with a choice of engines from Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, or GE; however, later variants including the 200LR, 300ER, and 777F freighter offered only the GE90 engines, rated up to 115,000 pounds of thrust each. The GE90 is a joint project between GE Aviation and partners Safran, IHI, and Avio. Later versions of the engine, such as those aboard the 200LR and 300ER, incorporate design and material advancements that make it the most powerful civil jet engine ever developed and extremely reliable. In the main, the 777s outfitted for VIP service were 200LR and 300ER variants. In addition to the more powerful engines, those aircraft feature beefier landing gear and redesigned, raked wingtips.

Besides the longer passenger cabin, Dash 300 aircraft feature a ground maneuver camera system that assists the pilots with taxi operations, with cameras mounted on the leading edges of the left and right horizontal stabilizers and the belly of the fuselage. Imagery is visible on the cockpit’s multifunction display screens.

You can’t taxi—or land—this beast just anywhere. Aside from the weight considerations, a fully laden 200LR requires up to 9,200 feet of pavement to get airborne, more where it is high and hot, and almost 6,000 feet to land. The airplane is made to live at large, commercial airports. 

Boeing 777 cockpit
Boeing 777 cockpit

Outfitting the interior for VIP use requires imagination, time, and money. An average installation can take up to three years and run into nine figures. In 2003, Boeing began offering the aircraft with a “second-story” crew rest area above the main cabin with bunks and chairs. A VIP 777-200LR called the “Crystal Skye” was outfitted with a spacious cocktail lounge and dining/gaming area, two gourmet galleys, enormous bathrooms, a wine cellar, and 88 lie-flat luxury seats, each with its own 24-inch flat-screen monitor. The aircraft recently was used to support the newly formed LIV professional golf tour. Another VIP 200LR—a 2011 model outfitted for 40 passengers and based in the Middle East—was recently advertised for sale at $285 million. 

But you don’t need to pay that much. Go ahead, make an offer. And don’t worry about parking. With a 20-hour range, you should be able to find a spot somewhere. 

Boeing BBJ 777-200LR at a Glance

Crew: 2–4 (flight deck), 10–12 (cabin) 

Range: Up to 10,100 nm 

Passengers: 40–90 (typical) 

Engines: 2 GE90-115BL2, 115,300 lb of thrust each

Maximum takeoff weight: 766,000 lb 

Takeoff distance at maximum takeoff weight: 9,200 ft

Cruising speed: 510 kt

Cabin: 161 ft long, 19.3 ft wide, 7.2 ft high