My first Alaska Air E175 pulls up to SLC

It has been a few years since I first flew on an Embraer E-Jet. That was on Air Canada, from Seattle to Toronto and I was sitting up front. The very long (for a smaller aircraft) flight was a breeze, but being in first class surely helped.

Since then, I have not had the opportunity to fly on another one. When I saw that Alaska Airlines was adding them to their fleet (via SkyWest and Horizon), I was excited. I figured it would only be a matter of time before I would get the chance to fly one, and when I recently took a trip down to Salt Lake City (SLC), I got my opportunity.

On my flight down, I flew on an Alaska 737-800 — been there, done that. But when I looked at my flight options back home, I saw that there was the option to fly on the E175. Yes… that please.

The plane fits in the middle between the airline’s Bombardier Q400 (operated by Horizon) and the mainline 737. Yet, it can fly interchangeably on both aircraft’s routes. Well, mostly. The E175 isn’t flying to Hawaii, but if needed, it can easily fly a short hop or something a bit longer.

After my time on the E175, I came to a few conclusions…

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THE (ALASKA) E-JET

  • The 2-2 economy seat configuration: Everyone will either have a window or aisle seat — no middle seats here.
  • Larger windows: The E-Jet windows are 185sq inches — the 787 are 175sq inches. Plus the smaller cabin makes them feel that much bigger.
  • Leg room is more than plenty: My knees had a few extra inches, even at 6’1″.
  • Ability to work on my laptop: There was enough room for me to not only put the laptop on the tray table, but I could type without bugging the person next to me (I was in the aisle).
  • There is a first class cabin: I didn’t use this one, but nice to know there is a first class option, not seen on the Q400.
  • Quick boarding: This is huge for me. One of the biggest annoyances, when flying in economy, is the stress and time it takes to get on and off the plane. Have less people on board, means less time getting them on and off the plane.
  • Avoiding weather: The plane is large enough to use a jetway to speed up the process, and it keeps you out of the elements (although I de-planed on the ramp at Seattle).
  • Foot room: There is no bar under the seats, between the seats. I guess this could be bad if your seat neighbor tries to take over your turf, but as long as people behave, this improves foot-space.

WHY I AM NOT A FAN

  • Upper bag space: The overhead bins are bigger than smaller regional jets, but still pretty tiny. People are taught “wheels in” or wheels out” on most airlines. Here it is “just shove it in and close the door.”
  • Blank walls: The windows might be bigger, but there were quite a few large empty gaps without those big windows.
  • Ramp with a view: Although I love using the gate for boarding, I would rather take a few minutes more and board via the ramp to get closer to the aircraft.
  • The elbow killers: Those freak’n armrests man. I am willing to have them small, to give more hip-room, but they are just so hard and uncomfortable.
  • The lavatory: It is not really a bad thing, but there is only one in the back. It was quite a bit larger than I was expecting, but still not able to stand fully tall without my head touching the ceiling. What really seemed weird to me was the flight attendant jump seat was awkwardly next to the lav door. So, if they sit in their seat, you  have to rub passed them to get by. Luckily it was empty when I went in.

An Alaska (Horizon) Bombardier Q400 at SEA

Q400 vs E175

I am choosing the Q400 every time. Raised wings, turbo prop, flying lower, and ramp boarding. These are the things that would make many AvGeeks choose the Q400. Also those are the things that would make most non-AvGeeks choose the E175.

B737 vs E175

It depends. If we are talking long-haul, the 737-900ER, with Boeing Sky Interior, is going to win every time. But in almost all other scenarios, I am going with the E-Jet. The 2-2 layout is amazing and the quick de-planing overshadows the negatives of the aircraft.

Back to Seattle. How can you tell this is not the plane I flew?

I think the E-Jet may have become my new favorite workhorse aircraft to fly economy. Sure, it is not exotic (maybe a bit more on the west coast), but neither are the 737 or A320. If I have a choice again in the future, I will go out of my way to fly on an E-Jet. Although I might be bringing some of my own elbow padding (BYOEP — it is going to become a thing).

What do you think? Have the same love for the E-Jet family, or am I way off here?

Related AirlineReporter Posts

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

http://www.airlinereporter.com
New American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK Airport
20 Comments
bigbenaugust

737 Combi v. E-Jet? 😉

That answer is obvious.

Combi all day long, every day 🙂

smallmj

I didn’t like the seats that AC uses in economy on their E-jets. The headrest was too low and too think, pushing my shoulders forward. I had a terrible back ache after a two hour YHZ-YYZ flight. Thankfully I took an A320 for the return which had no such problem.

I don’t know if this is an E-jet problem, or specific to the seats that AC uses on their E-jets. Your pictures seem to show a more comfortable headrest.

bigbenaugust

Being an east coast guy now, I have only flown on United Express and American Eagle E-Jets, but I too have a very favorable impression of them, esp. over the CRJ series and the tiny ERJs.

I don’t think there are many situations where I would rather fly on an ERJ (maybe to sit on the single side) or CRJ (maybe to hate myself) to other aircraft.

David

Charles

In Y, I would fly one over the Atlantic if I could. Seats that are more than 18 inches wide with no middle beats almost any other Y experience.

The aft lav situation is the worst. Esp on flights with meal service it is oppressive to only have 1 lav in the back.

At one point I saw the flight attendant sitting on one of the boxes on the other side. Can’t blame her for that.

David

What a good-looking plane, shame that I dont think there are any operating Down Under. It would have the legs to cross the Tasman Sea I think, so maybe one day..

Curious if anyone can shed light on the external noise levels of these vs, say, a Q300/400? Living under an approach path I enjoy the turbo props on finals, the only jets we see are private ones, but they’re certainly at a lot higher noise level!

David

Air North fly the E170 (the E175 is a later improved variant). They seem to use it a lot out of Brisbane West (Wellcamp) Airport (west of Toowoomba).

Virgin Australia flies the E190, which is basically a longer version of the E175, though they’re set to be retired by the end of 2017. And the E175 itself is just a slightly-longer version of the E170.

Maybe they can sell them to Jetstar who can operate them over here 🙂

Interesting and informative, as always. 🙂

Aren’t AS E175s equipped with forward lavs? SeatGuru cabin layout shows lav btw cockpit and door1: https://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Alaska_Airlines/Alaska_Airlines_Embraer_E175.php

Hmm. Maybe there was one there. Oops. Didn’t matter since I was in the back and didn’t have access to the elite one up front 🙂

David

Maureen Allenza

Love the embraer! First time I flew it, I thought, “Oh no!” As I tell people, small planes are not my thing. I go for the big beauties! But there’s a saying about that-“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” So true. As I was walking toward the plane, I was inwardly grumbling! But we were only in the air ten minutes and it was love at first flight!

PCMP1985

I’m taking a United E175 from SFO to MFR next month coming back from LAS, I’m looking forward to it. Originally I was on AS via LAX so I could go on VA one last time with a Q400 to MFR. For some reason they changed my itinerary to LAS-LAX-SEA-MFR .

Gary Bisbee

The only complaint I’ve heard about the e175 is it flies pretty choppy in rough weather. My one experience on a Skywesf/Alaska e175 from ONT to PDX last year proved that to be true. But liked it a lot better than the Bombardier 700. I flew a KLM City Hopper e190 from Lyon to AMS in 2015 and it was real smooth.

Brian

I’ve only had one occasion to fly an E-Jet: Nashville to IAH to get my connection back to SEA. I really liked the E-Jet.

One of the biggest advantages that I would also include in the article about the E175 is the width of the seat at 18.25 inches, compared to 17 inches on the 737s. The extra 1.25 inches (or 3 cm) does make a difference and avoids having to play the rubbing elbow or shoulder game with your neighbor. I will always choose the E175 over the 737 just because of this, regardless of the length of the trip. In addition the 2×2 seat layout is awesome as there is no unhappy middle seat person anymore. Lastly a 20 row plane beats a 30 row plane anytime; it makes it feel much more private and less congested

Steven Smith

The E-Jets overhead bins were designed for the same sized bags as other jets, just sideways not wheels in first. Not a plus or minus. If they were wheels in first, there would be no aisle. Since there are fewer people per row, it is not a problem.

One lavatory is inconvenient.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *