A US Airways Express regional jet operated by Air Wisconsin. Photo by Jeffrey Eslinger.

A US Airways Express regional jet operated by Air Wisconsin. Photo by reader and road warrior Jeffrey Eslinger.

 

Regional jets. Can’t live with ’em. Can’t live without ’em.

My post the other day about how United Airlines is again trying to reduce reliance on regional jets (RJs) sparked a lively and lengthy discussion in the comments section from road warriors who rely on RJs every week and have a love-hate relationship with them.

Photo by road warrior and reader Bob Yodice.

Photo by road warrior and reader Bob Yodice.

 

These business travelers pointed out shortcomings such as limited cabin space and airlines’ use of them for flights longer than two hours, as well as unpredictable service that depends on the individual company that’s operating them. And then there are the long waits for gate-checked bags. Of course, there is another side to the story: RJs allow airlines to offer just the right amount of service to and from some markets that might not otherwise have it.

An ExpressJet CRJ-700 for Delta in Detroit. Photo by reader and road warrior Bob Yodice.

An ExpressJet CRJ-700 for Delta in Detroit. Photo by reader and road warrior Bob Yodice.

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Take a look at their comments below – and then add your two cents! And be sure to subscribe and/or return to TravelUpdate.com next week for more stories, including an exclusive analysis of aircraft trends in the U.S.

Regarding RJs, road warrior “ptahcha” wrote:

“The RJ-145 and CRJ-200 are just miserable. You need to gate check your carry-on bag. The ceiling is too low for anyone over 5’10” to walk upright. The ‘legroom’ on RJ-145 is laughable. On the 2 seaters, you’re playing awkward shoulders-not-touching game during the entire flight, sometimes as long as 3 hours journey. Only 1 bathroom, all the way to the back, sometimes with only cold water. Forget about the ability to use any type of computing device with a keyboard on the ‘tray table.'”

Road warrior “tcsiko” wrote:

“I’m 6’4” with very broad shoulders. RJ’s don’t work well with me given I ride on one almost every week. The bad news is that UA will most likely replace the RJ service with A319 or A320 service and cut down the departures. This gives travelers less options. For example: currently they may have 5 flights a day from Chicago to Indianapolis. With the reduction or the RJs, they may now only have 2 flights a day (morning and evening) that restricts flexibility for connections etc…

I have a rule of thumb that I won’t ever fly on a RJ for a flight more than 2.5 hours unless I have to. For a while now UAL has been operating some daily flights from Cleveland to Denver on a RJ. At just over 3 hours it’s a pretty miserable flights.

On the plus side some of the new RJ’s are very nice. Yesterday I flew on a Embraer 170 that had 6 first class seats and 16 economy plus seats (extra legroom). Pretty nice.”

Photo by road warrior and reader Caryn Gates.

Photo by road warrior and reader Caryn Gates.

Road warrior and airport consultant Steve van Beek wrote:

“Even looking just at 50-seat RJs, they vary considerably depending on what company is operating them on behalf of United (or other carriers). For example, I find SkyWest’s staff and equipment superior to those that fly many of the east coast routes from markets such as IAD. In addition, remember that the alternative to a 50-seater is likely to be less frequency and schedule fit (albeit on a better “mainline” aircraft) OR, no service at all which may mean the business traveler has to drive 3-5 hours to serve a market, rather than the discomfort of an RJ.”

Photo by road warrior and reader Caryn Gates.

Photo by road warrior and reader Caryn Gates.

Road warrior bobbych wrote:

“50-seat RJ’s are fine for shorter, hub to smaller market, flights. Examples of this would include ORD-La Crosse or IAD-Erie. However, over the years, airlines became far too dependent on these smaller RJ’s for flights between ever larger markets, too. That just took up a lot of gate and slot space and was very inefficient. Uncomfortable too. Seeing a routing go from a 757 to an MD-80 and finally to multiple ERJ-145’s enough to take my business to Southwest. The smaller RJ’s are far less comfortable, more apt to delay, more prone to turbulence, and end up being staffed by a less experienced crew. Clearly I’m not alone in noticing this, as flyers tend to avoid them. The recent pilot shortage doesn’t help either.”

Of course, another factor in play is the emergence of larger RJ’s that seat 80-120 people. The ERJ-170/175/190/195 series of jet from Embraer has changed the marketplace. The CRJ-700/900 has done the same. Each has provided larger jets with greater capacity that can still provide good utilization between thinner routes while providing comfort that is almost as good as a full-sized jet. And, these newer (aircraft) are far more efficient than their older cousins. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but it is a good trend in my view because having tons of small RJ’s around was terrible for congestion and not great for passenger comfort either.”

Readers: Comments?

Photo by road warrior and reader Rob Newman.

Photo by road warrior and reader Rob Newman.