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My Review: SEA to LAX on United Express CRJ-700

United Express CRJ-700 on the tarmac at Seattle

United Express CRJ-700 on the tarmac at Seattle

This flight was something special for me. My first CRJ-700 flight ever and my first United Express flight in quite some time. As I just discussed recently, even though my plane might have “United” on the side, the flight is actually operated by SkyWest under the “United Express” brand.

My flight left early…7am. That meant getting up before I think people should be awake and heading to the airport. At least it was a beautiful morning and I was able to capture a few shots of my CRJ-700 on the tarmac with the moon behind it. One of the gate agents was so taken with the moon she made an unusual announcement letting passengers know they should check out the moon and many passengers flocked to the window. It was kind of cool to see that level of interaction.

United recently started being more aggressive selling upgrades to customers. I didn’t get around to checking in at home, so I did so at the airport. I was asked if I wanted to pay an extra $29 for Economy Plus, which gives you a few inches of extra leg room, you sit at the front of the plane and you get to board earlier. I didn’t feel the need to pony up the $29.00 extra for the 2.5hr flight. Since the flight was overbooked, I had to get my seat assignment at the gate. Lucky for me I got seat 6D, which was Economy Plus and I didn’t have to pay. Due to the overbooking, United was offering $400 travel vouchers which went fast. Everyone who wanted to fly was able to fly.

LA was pretty smog free on this flight...nice!

LA was pretty smog free on this flight...nice!

Before boarding a gate agent came on the intercom and apologized they had no jetway for the flight and we would have to board on the tarmac. Ha! No one should ever have to apologize for boarding on the tarmac. Okay, maybe the average passenger might not like going down the stairs or dealing with bad weather (United does provide umbrellas), but to me it is always worth it. Being down with the plane and boarding on the tarmac is always a welcomed experience.

The take off on the CRJ-700 was amazingly smooth. There wasn’t the big jolt you get with most other airliners. Many pilots I have talked to, see the CRJ-700 as a hotrod. Improved wings and engines over the CRJ-200 make the CRJ-700 a nimble and quick aircraft. It is able to take off quickly, while cruising at Mach 0.78.

Going to the rear of the aircraft was an interesting adventure. Unfortunately when I got up, the sign said no one was in the lavatory, but by the time I got there someone snuck in. Unlike larger aircraft there is no where to stand in the back of the CRJ-700. There is only the last row of seats and then, BAM the bathroom. So, when waiting you are standing in the aisle right next to seats with either your butt, crotch or thigh in their face. Akward for me and has to be annoying for the people in the back. When the passenger came out of the restroom, it was difficult to let them pass me without bumping into the passengers in the back row.

I love boarding on the tarmac!

I love boarding on the tarmac!

The rear of the plane is also quite a bit louder. With the combination of the increased sound, not being able to recline your seats and people standing/walking past you to use the restroom, I suggest avoiding sitting in the back if you can. It would surely be worth the $29 to get Economy Plus versus having to sit in the back row.

The flight down to LAX was beautiful and clear, making the scenery a real treat. I only wish it was easier to see out my window in seat 6D. The CRJ-700 has windows pretty spaced out, as you find more with regional jets versus larger airliners. Some seats end up perfectly aligned and others, like 6D, end up in an odd position. On my flight back home I got seat 10D, which is not Economy Plus, but my window was perfect. Even at 6’1″, I would rather have a lined up window than extra leg room, but I know most passengers probably don’t feel the same way.

Even with the hindered view, having the extra leg room on the flight to LAX was nice. On both flights I worked on my laptop (actually writing up this blog) and it was much easier with the extra room (I have a gut that gets in my way, as well). Even with the person in front of me in Economy Plus reclined, I had no problems with my laptop being fully open, but it wasn’t the same in standard seating.

From my own personal experiences and reading those of others, I often have a lower expectation level for regional airlines. I was quite happy with the service, friendliness and professionalism from all four SkyWest flight attendants working the United Express flights.

Even though the plane might be a bit smaller and have a few draw backs (ie don’t sit in the back and go to the restroom before flying), the positives outweigh the negatives. Running smaller aircraft, like the CRJ-700, allows airlines to provide more daily flights and in more cases at a cheaper fare. Getting on and off the plane is much quicker than a larger Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 and if you are an airline nerd (which you might be reading this), you have a greater chance to board on the tarmac.

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17 comments to My Review: SEA to LAX on United Express CRJ-700

  • MVFlyer

    Skywest is one of the best run regional airlines. Skywest’s employees are always pleasant and professional, the planes well-kept, showing they take pride in their operation. There’s a reason why Skywest has been successful while many other regionals have bad reps or have gone by the wayside.

  • Justin

    I’m a pilot for SkyWest, and fly this very route on a monthly basis. Was very happy to read about the pleasurable experience flying on us. (Normally you only hear about it when someone wants to complain) Seattle is one of the few places we go anymore without a jetway, and it’s refreshing to hear that some people don’t mind using ramp level boarding. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Mike

    Wonder if someone swapped nose cones from the US Airways/Mesa CRJ-900 pictured in your Aug 17 blog and the one from the United Express/SkyWest -700 you just flew on?

    • Brandon

      Mike
      August 26, 2010 at 6:19 pm · Reply
      Wonder if someone swapped nose cones from the US Airways/Mesa CRJ-900 pictured in your Aug 17 blog and the one from the United Express/SkyWest -700 you just flew on?

      -Actually Mike, SkyWest flies CRJ-700’s for their Delta Connection operation as well. The Delta Conneciton CRJ-700’s have white noses. The nose cones are interchangeable, so sometimes you’ll get a Delta CRJ-700 with a blue nose (used for United Express), and sometimes you will get a United CRJ-700 with a white nose (used for Delta Connection).

      Mesa is not a part of the SkyWest Airlines operation, therefore it is unlikely that their spare parts would be used on SkyWest aircraft.

  • Daniel

    If you’re going to just fly on certain aircraft, there is a Boeing 747-400 flying from SEA to MSP Sept 1st, DL 2614. Just thought I’d bring it to your attention. One of the few times you can fly a domestic 747. Also, I might finally be able to meet ya as I make my first trip (one night stand) to SEA.

  • surely David’s already been on a few 747s? I recall in the good old days when NW 7/8 operated with a 747-200 MSP-SEA-NRT. Though, it sucked being in row 68 when the connection was tight at MSP. ;)

    Alas, there are almost no 747 domestic opportunities anymore, and widebodies are becoming just as scarce.

    • When I was about 7-8 I flew NW B747-200 unaccompanied to see family SEA to MSP. I was so distraught that I couldn’t stop crying and they put me in first class. Heck yes! I wish I could pull that same stunt now :)

      That was my last domestic Boeing 747 flight.

      David

  • United is flying a B747-422 with the old cabin on a daily SFO-ORD-SFO trip. SFO-ORD is at 0600 PT and the return ORD-SFO is around 1500 CT. UAL pulled the bird (N194UA) out of the desert for additional lift between SFO and ORD.

  • Mitchell Scott

    SkyWest is a great airline, although I’m biased because my father works for them. I love the new CRJ-700s/900s with first and ex plus. The 200s suck though, but to be fair, 200s suck no matter what airline.

  • I live in an area in Canada where the only planes we typically have access to are the CRJ-700s and the Boeing 737. I must say that both of these aircrafts provide a really comfortable experience. Unfortunately, on the CRJ-700 I landed in a heavy snowstorm (as in the airport in Vancouver grounded flights a few hours afterwards). This created a ton of turbulence, not to mention we had to “go around” twice. However, the plane finally landed safely.

    What I really like about these smaller aircraft is that you get better service from the flight attendants. Sure, there are less of them, but there are less people too. This is in comparison to when your’e flying on a larger aircraft and you have to wait for everyone else to be served before you do.

    With that said, I must agree that the seat layout isn’t very good when it comes to being able to see out the window. But that’s just a matter of airlines adjusting their seating arrangement.

    OK, maybe I also have a little favouritism of the CRJ line because they’re made by Bombardier, a Canadian company. But hey, you gotta admit that it’s a pretty sweet and intimate ride.

  • [...] see nearly as many regional jets as folks over on the east coast. Not too long ago, I flew a CRJ-700 for the first time and had mix feelings about the [...]

  • Apache

    Just returned from IAH on a CRJ 700 to SLC and it was the worst landing approach and landing experienced in my life. I was in back by the engine and the constant noise was a nuiscence. And what’s with the engines going off and on during approach? Worst yet! What’s with the high pitch, loud constant whistle? Never again baby. I’m sticking with the Air Bus 320 and Jet Blue from now on.

    PS Hey United, get some snacks for your customers. Half a drink and no snacks doesn’t cut it in my book for 3+ hour flights.

  • Mark

    I had an 06:00 Hours flight from AUS to LAX, to go straight into a meeting in LA.

    Boarding was a bit chaotic and ran about 15 minutes late.

    I was dressed for the meeting, and I removed my suit jacket. The flight attendant quickly took my jacket and began stuffing it in an overhead bin. I objected. He said, most apologetically, the closet had been removed for an extra row of seats. OK. But, Skywest has not provided a button or a hook to hang the coat. Most unimpressive.

    Austin was in the midst of an ice storm. I was surprised we were flying. We went through a long deicing protocol. Good idea, but who would have thought Austin had deicing equipment.

    By now, we were 45 minutes late.

    Then there was an APU issue. At 2 Hours and 15 Minutes on the tarmac, we returned to the gate. At that point, it was decided to attempt a hard start. I fled up the jetway and took an American flight a couple of gates away.

    I guess this could have happened with any airframe, but this time of issue just happens too often with United.

  • Sala

    How may I work for SkyWest?

  • Eileen

    Can you take a roll on and back aboard Canadian Regional Jet 700?
    I have breakable items and can not hand them off on the tarmac to be put below?
    San Diego to LAX, change planes LAX to Seattle have to worry twice
    Thanks for any infor

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