Amount of Fuel an Airplane Carries

Q: How much jet fuel does it take to fly a large aircraft across the country?

A widebody airliner’s tanks can carry anywhere from about 100,000 to 500,000 pounds of fuel, give or take. The amount burned varies from plane to plane, engine type to engine type. Sixty thousand pounds, maybe, for a transcon flight, is a good number to start with. That works out to about 9000 gallons.


This Q&A is part of a collection that originally appeared on Salon.com. Patrick Smith, 38, is an erstwhile airline pilot, retired punk rocker and air travel columnist. His book, Ask the Pilot (Riverhead) was voted “Best Travel Book of 2004” by Amazon.com. Patrick has traveled to more than 55 countries and always asks for a window seat. He lives near Boston.