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I get it. Regional jets are typically looked down on as the worst ride out there. They are small, cramped, and generally more noisy. I’ve specifically hated on the CRJ-200 in a previous post.

But I find that the ERJ-175 is different. It’s a step up from every other regional aircraft I’ve flown. I’d happily fly it across the country if that was possible. Here is why it is a clear winner:

Every seat is either an aisle or a window

There really aren’t any bad seats on an ERJ-175, besides maybe the last row. Sure, the windows aren’t the best for everyone due to the fewer number and greater spacing than Boeing or Canadair aircraft. But you can usually luck out with one that is usable enough.

One thing is for sure: you won’t be stuck with a middle seat. On my last couple work trips, I’ve been stuck in a middle seat twice: once on a 757 across the country, and once on a Boeing 717. It’s a bummer that you can still end up in a middle seats on the slightly bigger aircraft that fly regional routes. Both the Boeing 717 and MD-88 have one side with middle seats. I’ve barely avoided ending up flying in one to/from Atlanta by incessantly checking the seat map and moving myself as soon as an empty seat presented itself. This is never a worry on the ERJ-175.

It’s big enough to be comfortable

Unlike its smaller cousin, the CRJ-200, the ERJ-175 is actually a pretty comfortable ride. There is no ducking required, which many people experience on a CRJ, and the cabin just feels less cramped overall. Seat pitch is usually 31″, and the width is typically an inch better than on a CRJ.

Additionally, the overhead bins actually fit most normal carry-on bags, which means you don’t have to wait around after the flight for your gate checked bag to be brought off the plane. This is literally my least favorite part about regional flights:

Upgrades are much more likely

Ok, this is a new thing for me. As a mere United Silver, I’ve been upgraded on 3 segments out of a potential 6, so I’m already batting 0.500. And all three upgrades have been on an ERJ-175. This is completely unsurprising. Scoring an upgrade as a United Silver on this aircraft boils down to this: the percentage of first class seats on the plane and the fact you’re flying to regional destinations.

The latter plays into things because you’re not flying a highly competitive route hub-to-hub where even top-tier elites sometimes don’t get upgraded. For my SFO-ORD flight on a 737 last week, I was about number 30 on the upgrade list of 42 people. For my ERJ-175 flights, there have been 5-6 people on the upgrade list each time.

But the real reason is the percentage of first class seats on the plane. The ERJ-175 has 12 first class seats, including 4 that are a coveted aisle-window configuration, as they are the only seat on that side of the aircraft. Most ERJ-175 aircraft have a mere 76 seats. This means that first class seats represent 15.8% of all seats on the plane. Contrast this with the CRJ-700, another regional jet, which has about 70 seats but only 6 of them are first class, resulting in a first class percentage of only 8.6%.

Likewise, larger aircraft have a lower overall percentage of first class seats. An Airbus A320 has the same number of first class seats as an ERJ-175 on an aircraft that holds twice the number of people. Boeing 737s are only a slight bit better, as most have 16-20 first class seats. But that still falls short.

So, if you’re looking to score an upgrade into an awesome window-aisle seat, the ERJ-175 is the aircraft you want.

Conclusion

Even for flights over fairly long distances, I’d pick the ERJ-175 over other options. My wife and I flew one from Calgary, Alberta to San Francisco, and it was a nice ride, even for a flight of over 1,000 miles. If only they could make it across the country.

What do you think of the ERJ-175? Do you have a favorite aircraft to fly?

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