Flying regionally in the US can be a grind. Many 50 seater regional jets have gone the way of the dodo because they are tough to turn a profit on. Bombardier CRJ’s and Embraer E145’s are some of the smallest regional aircraft in the US market today. My latest trip to RDU allowed me to experience both. My first leg was on an Embraer E190 and E145 respectively. Let’s take a look at how it all went.
Carrier: US Airways
Flight # 2172
Scheduled: 05:00PM EDT
Actual: 05:13PM EDT
Arrival Airport: LaGuardia (KLGA
Scheduled: 06:05PM EDT
Actual: 05:59PM EDT
Flight Time: 46 minutes
For a Friday afternoon, Boston Logan really wasn’t that busy. Getting to the airport was a little bit of a challenge but once in the airport the crowd was tame. I was traveling with my sister and we printed out tickets beforehand anticipating we might be pressed for time, so we would be able to skip the kiosks. We went straight to security and encountered a very light line. Got through security in 7 minutes and proceed to the gate. Terminal B seems a but nicer than it use to be and we decided to get a drink at Vinea. To my nonsurprise Sam Adams Summer is out so I decided to have my first of the season. It just doesn’t taste the same as it does when I’m on the beach in mid-June. I will give props to Vinea, a beer for $5.50 at Boston Logan is a really good deal.
We started boarding 30 minutes beforehand and while the plane was crowded the boarding didn’t feel crowded. A real plus of the E190 is the overhead bins. Many regional jets are outfitted with tiny bins, causing many people to gate check their bags, slowing the boarding process immensely. The E190 has a bin that can fit most carry on’s easily. The US Airways E190 also has a comfortable seat and the fuselage is longer and wider than most regional jets. If I am flying regional, I much prefer to be on the E190.
We pushed back on time and with a slight wait on the tarmac we where up in the air in no time. We flew east of Winthrop and then turned southwest towards NYC. The ride was smooth and we had good visibility. On such a short flight, you never know if the drink cart will get to you. Luckily the crew was very efficient and it got to us with no problem. It was an uneventful flight until our final approach. On final, you could tell we were a little high and a little fast coming into LaGuardia. About 500 feet from the ground you could feel the engines spool and power up as we aborted the landing. A go around can be unnerving and this one was a little hairy seeing as there are so many tall buildings in the NYC area. We ended up flying right over the Freedom tower and along the central park and most of Manhattan. It turned out to be an aerial tour of NYC which I really enjoyed. We circled around and landed with no issues and were still on time somehow. We taxied over terminal C and promptly realized we would be switching terminals with only an hour to make our connection.
Laguardia is quite an old airport. It has a distinct smell and is fairly worn out. I like flying into LGA until I get into the airport. There is very little in the way of shopping and eating. We flew in on US Airways but our connection was on American Eagle so we had to switch terminals because they haven’t merged the operations as of yet. We were herded into groups and loaded onto small shuttle buses to cross the airfield. We had to be escorted by members of the US Airways team because we were on the airside of operations. It is a significant inconvenience but due to space limitations at LGA you can’t do much about it. We arrived at our connecting flight right as we were boarding.
Flight # 4127
Departure Airport: LGA
Scheduled: 07:10PM ED
Actual: 07:26PM EDT
Arrival Airport: RDU
Scheduled 08:12PM EDT
Aircraft: Embraer ERJ-145
You will be hard pressed to find a higher regional jet than the Embraer E145. With a 1-2 seat configuration, you can only fit about 50 pax. I am five foot ten and have to duck when walking onboard. My bag which was small could barley fit in the overhead. You know you are on a small jet when there is only 1 stewardess. Before taking off, the stewardess requested one passenger from row 4-7 (luckily I was in row 8) move to the back of the plane for weight and balance. It took two minutes for someone to volunteer and she was not happy about it. We took off with a short wait on the tarmac and flight right over the Mets stadium which was cool.
Once at cruising altitude the stewardess got on the PA and did her normal announcements. One thing that struck me as odd is that beer, wine and cocktails were for sale for CASH only. When was the last time you were on a flight that only took cash. I decided I would have a drink based on that fact. Luckily I had exactly six dollars for the drink because the stewardess told me she rarely gets change and never can accept anything higher than a ten. She also said it was due to American and US Airways merging. Strange either way. The flight was only an hour long, but the seat got very uncomfortable after 25 minutes. I could feel the metal bar in my back and it was just too narrow. As we came in for the approach I was hoping for a soft landing and quick taxi to get off of this sardine can. We came in extremely hot and the pilot applied full reverse thrust and full brakes. Not the best day of flying but it beats driving any day.
All and all not a bad first leg. I will review the RDU airport next week. If you are going to fly short-haul regional flights, be sure to get on an E190 if you can. Your carry on and back will thank you. As always if you are traveling regionally be sure to use tripchi as your definitive guide to the airport. Travel On!