Gary Leff asks, “Would You Fly 1700 Miles in a Regional Jet?” My answer is…depends on the jet. But in answer to the specific jet referred to in his question, the answer is YES.
United is adding several new domestic routes, including a 1,731 flight from Fresno (FAT) to Chicago (ORD). The flight will be operated by an Embraer E175, a regional jet featuring 12 seats in first class, 16 seats in EconomyPlus, and 48 seats in economy class. First class pitch is 37″, EconomyPlus is 34″, and economy class is 31″.
That’s a long flight…no doubt about it. But here are three reasons I prefer this aircraft to a mainline 737 or 757 on the same route.
1. No middle seats
Almost always, I am alone when I fly or fly with one companion. Even when I’m traveling with my wife and son, Augustine does not take up his own seat. I like not having a middle seat. The economy class seats, especially in EconomyPlus, are just as comfortable as the economy class on United Mainline.
I will concede that the lack of a power port behind the curtain is concerning for a flight that may stretch four hours, but I can get through a flight of that length if my devices are fully charged prior.
2. First Class is surprisingly comfortable + great upgrade ratio
First Class is configured 1-2 and your upgrade ratio on this aircraft is better than on most. The seat is comfortable and contains power ports. Furthermore, I find the tray tables particularly sturdy on this aircraft…there is nothing more annoying than a sagging tray table on an old mainline aircraft.
The downside is that sometimes the meals come out looking particularly bad. There are no ovens onboard so all meals are cold.
3. Gogo Wi-Fi
These United Express aircraft offer Gogo Wi-Fi, usually a more reliable alternative than United’s own proprietary system found on most mainline aircraft. I like the ability to use my American Express Business Platinum passes. Messaging is also free for T-Mobile customers.
I flew from Minneapolis to Los Angeles on the same aircraft earlier this year, a 1,536-mile flight. It was no problem. This new flight will not be a problem either. And arguably, it will be an even better in-flight experience than a larger mainline aircraft.