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.
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.
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?