Would You Fly 1700 Miles on a Regional Jet? With This New Route, Soon You Might!

Via Joe Brancatelli, Alaska Airlines will be contracting with Skywest to fly Embraer E175 regional jets between Seattle and both Milwaukee and Oklahoma City.

Those are some long flights on a regional jet!

Certainly Seattle – Milwaukee is one of the longest flights operated by a regional, but certainly not the longest in North America. For instance Air Canada Jazz flies Houston – Calgary.

To be sure, I’d take longer flights on an Air Canada Jazz CRJ705 (aka “CRA”) or an Embraer E175 over 1400 mile-ish flights on an ERJ145.

The CRJ705 offers 10 first class seats with 37 inches of pitch (distance from seat back to seat back) and 65 economy seats with 34 inches of pitch — the equivalent of United’s economy plus and American’s main cabin extra throughout the cabin.

The Skywest E175s flying for Alaska Airlines will feature 12 first class seats and 64 economy seats, the same capacity as Skywest operates the aircraft for United.

These aren’t going to be super-comfortable, but they won’t be horrible. Or at least notions of horribleness are incredibly subjective and shifting over time. 50 seat CRJs, the bane of frequent flyers’ existence, were once huge advances in passenger comfort — compared to the prop planes that they replaced.

Those planes have high per-seat costs compared to larger jets, but became popular when airlines managed to include the flexibility to contract out more flying to regional affiliates in their pilot contracts.

  • Regional jets mean regional airlines, which have lower labor costs.
  • Smaller planes, while expensive per-seat, are cheaper to operate in total than a large jet. So markets that cannot fill a large plane can be served profitably with a smaller jet.

And while a large aircraft is going to be preferred by passengers over a small one, a regional jet non-stop will often be preferred over large jet connections.

In other words, we don’t get to fly what we want to fly, we have to make comparisons against real world options that can be sustainable for an airline to offer. Otherwise we’d be choosing to fly Singapore Suites class on Denver and Phoenix – East Coast redeyes. Of course people in general won’t pay for that.

Nonetheless, given the choice I’ll avoid regional jets without first class and extra legroom, and without inflight internet. And yet I take them on short routes when that’s what is offered, with the most convenient flight times.

While it can make sense on short non-stop flights without competition, Continental years ago became the first airline offering one-stop cross country flights on a regional jet … Richmond to Palm Springs via Houston. That was a pretty thin route, there weren’t a lot of passengers connecting between those cities. But given that particular set of cities I’d have chosen to fly someone else.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] Thor is online now   Quote Quick Reply post #351 of 354 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 05:03 PM john117 Member     Join Date: May 2013 Location: Midwest USA Posts: 7,932 Re: Is Healthcare a right or a privilege? We are down to four Airlines and that's competition? I've looked at fares I booked when crude was $100/bbl and now it's $36… Fares are higher today. Much higher in some places. High fares have killed the cruise industry. In the old days I flew a lot out of CVG. even to Europe via Delta. A few mergers later CVG is toast as a hub. Flew cattle class Comair from CVG (terminal D ?? lolz) for work a lot. I've flown People's Express and such, so my idea of affordable travel is a bit different. The regional jets were a good idea offering multiple flights per day to smaller destinations but greed did that in too. At least as a passenger. CVG to Houston in a regional jet? http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea….te-soon-might/ […]


  1. Not a problem. I don’t need to sit in First Class to massage my ego or pay the additional $$ or points to sit there and eat substandard meals.I can eat better elsewhere before or after the flight.

    It’s not that long of a flight. I can sit still there and nap or read a book or magazine… comprised of paper. I can deal without internet access or other in flight electronic entertainment.

  2. Worth noting that AC flies the E90 on YYZ-SEA every day. Thankfully they had theirs retrofitted with ovens, so the J service is identical to what you’d get on a 320.

  3. I would actually rather fly on an E175 than a single aisle mainliner. No middle seat and the cabin has reasonable space unlike the CRJs. But the BIG difference (and what makes this feasible), is the fact that there are 2 loos on the ERJ as opposed to one on a CRJ. One bathroom for 70 pax on a 3 hour flight is madness – not to mention that those in F have to go to the back of the plane to use it. The horror! : )

  4. I flew US PHX-DSM-DCA this year on CR9/E170 as opposed to the non-stop PHX-DCA. Why? Upgrades!

    The CR9 was an easy clear looking at ExpertFlyer even for an AA elite like me at T-24, and I had a bulkhead seat on the E170 until the upgrade cleared at the gate. Much better than enduring a completely full A321 in coach where the good exit row seats were already taken. Plus I got a chance to get a real lunch in Des Moines at a burger place next to the gate.

  5. Like @SAN Greg, I find the E70/90 series to be just as comfortable, if not moreso, than full-size narrowbodies. The overhead compartments accomodate full-size bags, and you can actually stand upright in the aisle! The same is *not* true for the CR7/9.

    The fact that you can lump the CR7/9 with the E70/90s must mean you haven’t done much flying on either!

  6. Lumping the 70 seater planes in with the 50 seat versions makes for some pretty bad content. They’re completely different inside.

    And I’m confused what about the planes won’t be comfortable? The lack of middle seats? The high ratio of F:Y? The ability to fit normal sized carry-on bags into the overhead bins?

  7. Hey Ron, well bully for you. How’s the view from your “high horse?

    After 29 years of plane travel for work, a FC seat has nothing to do with ego, or quality meals. It’s survival and the ability to function just a bit better after I land.

  8. I was also going to chime in that I like the E70’s better than mainline narrow bodies because of how quick boarding/unboarding is, no middles, stand up space, etc, BUT the bins absolutely do NOT take full size bags.

    My Rimowa Topas 56 fits in large wide body bins and newer (“Sky” interior and such) narrowbody the “hot dog way” just fine. Older 737, 340, 320 etc, it can fit the “hamburger” way. On the E70’s, it doesn’t fit at all, so I have to check it.

  9. Agree with many others – lumping a 70+ seat Embraer with other “regional jets”, including the 50 seaters from either Embraer or Bombardier as well as the still not particularly comfortable CRJ 700 or 900s, isn’t fair. The 1 on the 1-2 first class on these planes is great, and the full size bins plus small passenger load makes them a pretty good flying experience.

  10. @Wandering Aramean I think I draw a contrast between the two plane types in the post, I suppose if you want to see the post conflating the two then you will. I hardly suggest they are equivalent, in fact I write “I’d take longer flights on an Air Canada Jazz CRJ705 (aka “CRA”) or an Embraer E175 over 1400 mile-ish flights on an ERJ145.”

  11. E170/175s are my favorite planes to ride (full disclosure: I’ve never been on a widebody). Price and schedule being equal, I’ll always take the E170.

  12. Those 175’s are just as comfortable as a 737. When I first saw them at ORD I thought they were a new 737 competitor. On AC these have seatback entertainment that made a 3 hour tarmac delay in YVR a moviegoing experience. I would choose them over a 737.

    What’s not even remotely reasonable is United replacing IAH-ONT (3 miserable hours) with cramped CRJ-700’s lacking even Wifi, forfeiting this loyal traveler to AA via DFW on MD80’s which are comparatively comfortable. A flight FLL-ONT I’m watching now for next month has almost no seats sold while AA’s competitor with a 3 hour DFW layover is almost full.

    I wrote the CEO of UA about this and he had his planning VP reply which told me they know they are out on a thin limb with a toy airplane.

  13. I have flown on a DL CR900 from JFK to SAT. 4.5 hours of misery. These planes should not be allowed to fly more than 2 hours. It is pure torture

  14. hey RoloT,

    Survival huh? You need first class for that? Pity the poor unwashed masses who fly in coach.

    As for my high horse, I just really dislike pretension.

  15. My husband flies the E175 (just did MSP-YVR today, which blocks out at four hours) but flew the CRJ200 for awhile a few years back. Airlines are parking those 50-seaters mostly because they lack first class, wi-fi and two lavatories.
    If you’re on an E170/175/190, you might as well be on a 737 because Embraer made them cozy and state-of-the-art. A four-hour flight will be painless. (CRJs, even the -700 and -900 seem too narrow, though, despite extra seats. Personal preference.)
    ANYWAY – 76-seat regional jets are much more common now as far as long-range domestic flying goes. America will survive this trend.

  16. Of course I’d fly regional for long haul. Anyone tried the American 777 on the DFW-London route recently? 9 hours of pure hell. Regional planes have more comfortable seats and more space. The Airbus from London to Glasgow was an order of magnitude more comfortable than that transcontinental torture device. If you are so important that you can’t live without WiFi for four hours, you can afford to fly private. Read a book.

  17. For many years, I flew the direct flights each way between COS and IAD, and these were United Express (Skywest?) using a CRJ700. 6 FC seats, but only 1 Bathroom. Often the flight took >4 hours (especially going West). I believe this was around 1600m each way. This was an extremely long and painful flight (I’m >6′ tall), but at least it was direct. The route went one flight each way, each day, but I believe it’s now cancelled (I don’t live in COS anymore).

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