United Announces The First 15 CRJ-550 Routes (Flights On Sale Tomorrow)


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United Airlines has announced that fares for flights on its new regional Bombardier CRJ-550 aircraft will go on sale from 12 October 2019 for travel commencing 27 October 2019. The airline has also announced the first 15 routes on which the CRJ-550 will operate.

United’s Bombardier CRJ-550

At the beginning of February United announced that it would be refreshing its fleet with new aircraft and pushing ahead with aircraft refurbishments which will see the airline add more than 1,600 Polaris Business Class and United First seats to approximately 250 international and domestic aircraft.

The new aircraft that United mentioned in that announcement were the Bombardier CRJ-550 aircraft that have now started arriving (a little later than originally planned) and which are set to make the travels of some of United’s regional flyers a lot more comfortable.

United’s CRJ-550s come in a 2-cabin configuration with 50 seats in the aircraft:

Seat map courtesy of United

This is how the airline described its latest addition:

In addition to becoming the only 50-seat aircraft in the world to offer true first-class seating, the innovative new aircraft will provide customers with a truly exceptional flying experience, including a state-of-the-art interior featuring LED lighting, a self-serve beverage and snack station for customers seated in the premium cabin, Wi-Fi and more overall legroom per seat than any other 50-seat aircraft flown by any U.S. carrier.

Additionally, the CRJ 550 will feature four storage closets, providing customers ample room to store their carryon bags and making the CRJ 550 the only regional jet in the skies where customers will not need to routinely gate check their bags.

The presence of a First Class cabin will certainly be welcome but I think that it’s United’s statement (repeated yesterday) that the aircraft will have “[s]pace for every customer to bring a roller bag on board” that will win the most admirers.

Frequent travelers hate a lot of things about everyday flying but being forced to gate-check their carry-on luggage is one of the most hated – an aircraft that will essentially guarantee that this won’t happen is a big step forward.

Still, the CRJ-550 is not good news for everyone.

Here’s the seat information that United has provided:

  • First Class: 42″/20″ (pitch/width)
  • Economy Plus: 34″/17″
  • Economy Class: 30″/17″

Economy Class is going to be tight. Very tight.

United may be claiming that the aircraft will offer passengers a lot of space but that certainly doesn’t apply to Economy Class.

American’s ERJ-145 aircraft which also have 50 seats (but which don’t have a First Class cabin) offer Economy Class passengers 31″ of pitch and Delta’s CRJ-100/200 aircraft (another 50-seater without a First Class cabin) offer Economy Class passengers 31″ of pitch and 17.3″ of width.

United’s CRJ-550 may be great for First Class flyers and very good for Economy plus flyers but regular Economy Flyers appear to be the ones paying the price.

United CRJ-550 First Routes

United has stayed true to its original announcement back in February by confirming that the first CRJ-550s will be based at Chicago O’Hare and that all 15 of the first routes that the aircraft will operate will originate in Chicago.

Here are the first 15 destinations to get United CRJ-550 service from 27 October 2019:

  • Allentown, Pennsylvania (ABE)
  • Bentonville, Arkansas (XNA).
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa (CID)
  • Cincinnati (CVG)
  • Columbus, Ohio (CMH)
  • Des Moines, Iowa (DSM)
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan (GRR)
  • Greensboro, North Carolina (GSO)
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (MDT)
  • Indianapolis, Indiana (IND),
  • Madison, Wisconsin (MSN)
  • Oklahoma City (OKC)
  • Richmond, Virginia (RIC)
  • St. Louis, Missouri (STL)
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma (TUL)

United says that more destinations will be added in “the coming weeks” and that flyers can soon expect CRJ-550 service out of Newark and Washington Dulles.

Bottom Line

I’ve never been a fan of regional jets because they have historically offered me nothing but a miserable ride, but the CRJ-550’s First Class and Economy Plus seats actually look quite good.

With 60% of the aircraft’s seats being either First Class or Economy Plus, the majority of passengers on the United CRJ-550s will almost certainly have a better in-flight experience than on other 50-seater aircraft but the comfort certainly doesn’t extend throughout the aircraft – if you’re flying Economy Class this is unlikely to be a comfortable ride.

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