How much fuel does an international plane use for a trip?

A private jet on a runway with a fuel truck parked beside it.
A plane consumes approximately 5 gallons of fuel per mile. drolet / Getty Images

A plane like a Boeing 747 uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel (about 4 liters) every second. Over the course of a 10-hour flight, it might burn 36,000 gallons (150,000 liters). According to Boeing's Web site, the 747 burns approximately 5 gallons of fuel per mile (12 liters per kilometer).

This sounds like a tremendously poor miles-per-gallon rating! But consider that a 747 can carry as many as 568 people. Let's call it 500 people to take into account the fact that not all seats on most flights are occupied. A 747 is transporting 500 people 1 mile using 5 gallons of fuel. That means the plane is burning 0.01 gallons per person per mile. In other words, the plane is getting 100 miles per gallon per person! The typical car gets about 25 miles per gallon, so the 747 is much better than a car carrying one person, and compares favorably even if there are four people in the car. Not bad when you consider that the 747 is flying at 550 miles per hour (900 km/h)!


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Originally Published: Apr 1, 2000

Plane Fuel FAQ

Which fuel is used in airplanes?
There are a few types used. Jet A and Jet A-1 are colorless, easily combustible, kerosene-based fuels used in turbine engine airplanes. Aviation gasoline (AVGAS) is another type of fuel, but is only used in small piston-engine airplanes.
Why is kerosene used as a jet fuel?
Kerosene-based fuels are used for large planes because the flash point of kerosene is higher than gasoline. Gasoline is not as efficient and does not provide the level of power that kerosene can.
What is the price of aviation fuel?
As of May 2021, the average nationwide price of Jet-A fuel is $4.42 per gallon, but the prices change regularly depending on a variety of factors.
Is jet fuel diesel?
No, there is a clear difference between jet fuel and diesel. The former has a high sulfur content while the latter has low sulfur content. Jet fuel is generally kerosene-based.