The CRJ-200 is my plane nemesis. While I enjoy the experience of flying its larger regional jet counterpart, the Embraer E175, the Canadair Regional Jet family is just awful. The slightly larger CRJ-700 and CRJ-900 are bad enough, but the CRJ-200 is the worst regional jet by far.
Nothing about flying the plane is cool, unlike hopping on a tiny Pilatus PC-12 with Boutique Air. Nor is it a new experience, like when we flew a PenAir Saab 340. It’s just the same old miserable experience.
While I’m excited about my next work trip for other reasons, the fact I’ll be flying 1,000 miles in a CRJ-200 definitely puts a damper on things. I’m used to the short hop from Arcata to SFO, but this time I’ll be hopping all the way to Denver. Here are five reasons why I can’t stand the CRJ-200:
If You’re Any Taller Than Me, You Don’t Fit
I’m a little over 5’10” and I barely fit on the CRJ-200. I can walk down the aisle just fine, but you definitely feel cramped when your head is nearly at the ceiling. Anyone over 6 feet has to stoop. I pity those taller than me every time I fly these tiny planes. I’m sure they hate the CRJ even more than I do.
One of my most vivid flight memories was when I flew into Roanoke from Chicago on a CRJ-200. There was one passenger who had to be 275+ pounds and at least 6’3″. He was in Economy Plus, but you can imagine that this still wasn’t much of a benefit. He spent the bulk of the flight standing at the front of the aircraft by the cockpit door, looking utterly miserable.
The Windows Are Designed For A Six Year Old
I love looking out an airplane window. It’s part of the magic of air travel. I’m firmly #TeamWindowSeat on short flights. Even on longer ones where I’ll need to use the lav, I can usually time it when other people get up as well. The window is the place to be (and yes, I will keep that shade open, Mark).
But the CRJ windows are so low that your neck rebels when you try to look out. You have to crane so far over that it hurts. They are fine for my kids, but not for any adult. A visit to the chiropractor might be in order after several flights. It does not surprise me that many people shut the window shade and lean back with their eyes closed. Yes, I want this to just be over, too.
There’s No First Class
While the other CRJs offer at least a handful of first class seats, the CRJ-200 gets zero. The most you get is Economy Plus, and it only has one row. Even that is sad, as it is at the bulkhead and foot space isn’t actually all that great.
On the other end of the spectrum is the E175, which actually has one of the highest ratios of first-to-economy class of any aircraft. Out of 76 seats, a whopping twelve are first class. Even this Premier Silver has batted 100% on E175 upgrades. Contrast this with a mere 8 first class on a A319.
You Are Basically Too Cramped To Work
I can work on my laptop just fine on most mainline flights. If I’m in an economy product with a little extra legroom, the tray table is perfect for my laptop. If I’m not, holding on my lap is tolerable. In any case, there is at least some level or productivity.
On the CRJ, I’ve learned not to bother. Unless something is so critical as to necessitate me to work during a short hop, I don’t even try. Unfortunately, I end up pulling my laptop out of my pack and putting it under the seat. Even lightly-filled weekender backpack is too much for the tiny overhead bins. But I can usually cram it in there if I’m not worried about breaking anything.
It Lands With A Thud
My last landing on a E175 was utter perfection. The pilots of the Alaska (operated by SkyWest) aircraft brought it down so gently it was like landing on a cloud. This has been fairly rare in my experience when flying the regional jet, but sometimes the pilots pull it off.
With the CRJ-200, I feel like we just smack the runway. Hard. Every time. There’s no last-second floating sensation. Coming into SFO it is just water, water, water, rocks, runway, THUD! Looking on the bright side, landing does mean we’re about to be done with the misery.
I can’t hate on the CRJ-200 too hard, though. It is what connects our tiny airport to the outside world. I vastly preferred when United flew one fewer flight but operated E175s on all of them. Now we’re back to the CRJ-200, with one CRJ-700 flight to start the day. Oh, the frustrations of regional travel.