During a series of trips I made up and down the west coast over the last two weeks, I ended up mostly in small, I mean very small Regional Jets. I am not talking large Embraer 190s, but small ERJ 145s. I have discussed the proliferation of regional jets in my previous article on this topic. Flying four straight flights in these tiny aluminum tubes brought the reality to me the hard way. The two flights I took in-between on US Airways Shuttles’ A319, that too in first class, were a welcome respite. By the way, when I at 5’ 10” am complaining about head and leg room, it IS a very small plane.
In reality, I think it is the overall smaller size of the aircraft that makes trips on such smaller regional jets uncomfortable. The seats themselves are actually not that much worse.
According to seatguru.com, a regular Economy seat on a United ERJ 145 has seats with a pitch of 31″ and width of 17.3″. Where as, an economy seat (not Economy Plus) on a United A319 has the same pitch, of 31″ and a slightly higher width of 18″. Now, the seat cushions were another thing. Maybe I was on very old aircraft, but the seats I got on at least two of the aircraft seemed like they had been occupied for a trans-pacific flight by the largest linebacker for the Redskins. They were flat as pancakes and had hardly any cushion left. I felt like I was sitting in straight metal with a thin vinyl cover.
For an airline, especially a regional airline like Mesa flying short thin routes (as opposed to long, thin routes), regional jets are an appropriate vehicle. While we the passengers may want larger aircraft with more headroom and legroom, the airlines need to fill planes. Flying half empty aircraft is not good business. So, if you live on the East Coast of the US and are booking flights to New York, you are more than likely to be on an RJ.
An ERJ145, that I flew on two legs last week, seats 50 passengers. It has smaller siblings – the ERJ135 at 37 passengers and ERJ140 at 44 passengers. Embraer is a Brazil based company that has become a major provider of smaller jets. The other main competitor being Bombardier from Canada. China is making its foray into smaller jets soon, but their venture’s future remains to be seen. Embraer also has larger regional jets, like the EMB 190 and 195 that are in the 100 passenger capacity range.
I am including a couple of pictures I took during this trip hopping between Washington Dulles (IAD), Raleigh, NC (RDU) and Albany, NY (ALB). Yes, my day job takes me to state capitals, for those who picked up the cue. I am waiting for them to send me on a trip to Honolulu, HI (HNL)… Oh yes, IAD-HNL, thats 9,634 miles roundtrip.