Grab a Front Seat on a Republic Airlines E-Jet, and Experience First Class!
Recently, I had an international business class itinerary composed of various ‘Oneworld’ alliance airlines. My itinerary started in Baltimore (BWI) on Republic Airlines operating for US Airways Express and ended in Washington (DCA) on Republic operating for American Eagle. This gave me an opportunity to experience premium service aboard a US Airways Express Embraer 170 and an American Eagle Embraer 175. Come along for the ride!
Baltimore to Philadelphia
I took a thirty-minute Amtrak train from Union Station in Washington D.C. to BWI’s train station, where a quick courtesy bus ride took me to the terminal. I printed my boarding passes at a self-service kiosk and proceeded to gate D26. Our aircraft arrived on time inbound from Charlotte, and after a quick turnaround, boarding for Philadelphia started. First class on the Embraer 170 consists of four rows in a 1-2 layout with 37 inches of pitch and a seat width of 19 inches.
I settled into seat 1A. My first instinct is to plug in my phone or tablet for charging, but this aircraft had no power ports. Luckily no big deal for a short flight. The flight attendant took orders for a pre-departure beverage, and we were soon underway. The captain informed us flight time would be a short 30 minutes with a cruising altitude of only 9,000 feet. Soon after takeoff, the flight attendant took another drink order and came by with a basket of packaged snacks. I opted for a Coke and a bag of pretzels. The low altitude cruise and clear weather with high visibility made for a good view from the window from wheels up at 18:47 to touchdown at 19:17 local time. Once in Philly, I went to the US Airways Club prior to my international flight.
Chicago to Washington
My flight into O’Hare landed at 15:25, giving me three hours before my connecting flight to Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington was set to leave. Customs and Immigration, I’d come in from abroad, in Terminal 5 wisely implemented a separate line for people with no checked bags, which made for a quick and very impressive five minutes between the gate and the airport train to Terminal 3. The three hour layover gave me an opportunity to relax at the American Airlines Admirals Club and to take plenty of pictures of the great views of the ramp from the club. I was looking forward to the flight since it would be on a relatively new Republic Airlines Embraer 175, operating for American Eagle. Deliveries of these aircraft began in August 2013.
Thirty minutes prior to boarding, I proceeded to gate H3B, finding boarding was already underway. By the time I entered the aircraft, the overhead bins were full. Thankfully one of my neighbors was kind enough to remove his backpack and put it under the seat in front of him, leaving enough space in the bin for my luggage. Again, I opted for seat 1A.
This aircraft definitely had the new plane look and feel. The newer Embraers also have a new seat model that is 20-inches wide, while retaining the 37-inch pitch and 1-2 layout of the Embraer 170. I figured such a new plane would equal some new, high tech #paxex gadgets and amenities, right? Not really. There were no power ports to charge portable electronic devices, nor WiFi to connect to. I’d guess that my 90 minute flight represents the average flight length most of Republic’s Embraer 170/175 aircraft operate, which would make inflight wifi handy. In my case this was a 90-minute flight. However, the regional carrier thus far has opted not to install GoGo Inflight, which is used by both American and US Airways.
This was another on-time flight with near-perfect weather all the way, which provided a great view of Chicago. Our friendly flight attendant offered pre-departure drinks and took orders for a cold plate dinner. I chose a steak salad, which was very tasty. It was accompanied by a roll and a strawberry cheesecake. At sunset, we began our descent into the Northern Virginia area. We landed a few minutes ahead of schedule, and I went straight to the Washington Metro station for my train ride home.
It is always nice to see and experience brand new aircraft.
E-Jets have a comfortable 1-2 first class and 2-2 economy class configuration, which means no middle seats. With the days of 50-seat regional jets numbered because of operating costs, E-Jets and CRJ 700/900s will become more common for regional carriers here in the U.S.
Thankfully, the E-Jets are more spacious than the CRJs, which means less gate checks for larger carry-ons. For both of my flights, I had very friendly and courteous crews. My only suggestion to improve the passenger experience is for Republic Airlines to catch up with technology by installing power ports and providing inflight WiFi on its new aircraft.
Separately, during taxi out of Chicago, I also saw the first Enhanced Embraer 175, which had been in service for less than a week. The main characteristic of the upgraded model is the much larger winglet and other aerodynamic improvements which amount to a 6.4 percent improvement in fuel burn, that beat the initial estimate of five percent. As of this report, Republic Airlines has 33 orders and 47 options for new Embraer 175s.
Overall, passengers flying the new American Airlines will be happy with the comfort of the flights operated by Republic Airlines.