The trend has been pack ‘em like sardines when it comes to air travel, until now. United Airlines is bucking the trend with an industry first. In their new aircraft, the Bombardier CRJ-550 joining the fleet this weekend, you have room in every seat. They cut the number of seats from 70 to 50. Whether you’re in first class or economy you get to fly in comfort. I know what you’re thinking – comfort comes at a higher cost right? The answer is no. Yes, I immediately asked after I toured the plane. Fares stay competitive with other carriers.
As I boarded the new 50-seater in a preview at United’s Flight Plan global media event, I instantly noticed how roomy the new aircraft is. A crew member said, “You feel like you’re in a premium product no matter what seat you’re in.” She right and yes, I tested out each class – first, premium economy and economy. There are 10 seats in first class, instead of the traditional 6 seats on an express. There’s 20 economy plus and 20 economy seats. I also noticed people over six feet tall didn’t have to duck as much walking down the aisle. That’s a bonus for tall people!
Here are the cool new features with this aircraft. Taking a cue from European luxury trains with carry-on cabinets. With the overheads, closets and these new cabinets, 50 roller bags can fit on the plane. That’s one for every seat. Goodbye having to gate checking your bag on the regional planes! All new planes have wifi, that’s always my biggest gripe when flying on regional jets. For United First passengers on these planes, there’s a self-serve refreshment center with a variety of snacks.
I did ask the captian and first officer (also based in Denver!) about the cockpit and it’s basically the same advanced technology they’re accustomed to flying. While the exterior may look the same as older regional aircrafts, you can definitely see the difference once inside. Ten new aircrafts start flying on Sunday to 15 markets including Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Saint Louis from O’Hare in Chicago. I can’t wait to fly on one of the new Bombardier CRJ-550 regional jets.
Here are three short clips I took while touring the new regional jet.
Travel journalist Jennifer Broome is a frequent flyer as she traverses the United States and jetsets around the globe.