Sep 24, 2020
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This United Airlines Regional Jet Has Legroom, Bag Space And A Snack Bar – Can It Possibly Make Money?

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GoJet First Officer Alicja Skreiberg climbs the stairs to a United Express CRJ 550 in Greensboro. [+] TED REED Despite a relentless effort to decrease the amount of default legroom in coach seats in mainline aircraft airlines are taking the alternative tack in their regional jets. In 2016 Delta unveiled its new 109-seat Airbus A220 in an Atlanta ceremony that focused on customer amenities – more legroom wider seats bigger windows or even a window in coach

 

Now United is going even farther with its smaller regional jets converting 70-seat Bombardier CRJ-70 aircraft to 50-seaters with more legroom for all sufficient space for each passenger s carry-on bag and a self-serve snack bar for firstclass passengers. United calls the newly reconfigured Bombardier aircraft the CRJ-550. The improvements please passengers particularly people who connect between regional jets and longer flights on mainline aircraft with three-class service

 

The plain question is whether it works financially to fly a 70-seat aircraft with just 50 seats including 30 premium seats — 10 in first 20 in economy plus and 20 in economy. It truly is exceptional inside the airline industry the high level of premium cabin seats said Sarah Murphy senior vp of United Express in an interview

 

People asked us if we were crazy …Our competitors are sniffing around [wondering] how we made the economics work. It doesn t work everywhere but it works in some key markets some smaller communities with business demand and loads of travel demand Murphy said. We want to be sure those customers have every reason to select United

 

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27 United launched CRJ-550 service from Chicago O Hare to fourteen mid-sized cities. The aircraft will fly on Newark routes starting in February and in a while Dulles routes; the fleet will grow to 54 aircraft by the tip of 2020. Last week United undertook a rollout tour introducing the CRJ-550 to media and key customers in 10 airports including Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro N

 

C. on Friday. We re here to see the new aircraft said Cindy Minx senior travel manager for VF Corp. which owns 30 brands including The North Face and Timberland and employs about 600 people at its Greensboro headquarters. The expanded cabin and the non-stop [to Chicago] would be convenient for our travelers Minx said

 

They didn t like going to international destinations and then at the return flights getting off and [flying] in regional jet coach class. The CRJ550 is flown for United Express by regional carrier GoJet which is owned by St. Louis-based Trans State Holdings. From a pilot perspective the performance is healthier because the aircraft is lighter said First Officer Alicja Skreiberg

 

It s more fun to fly. And the passengers are happy which makes us happy. Captain Tyler Parham said It s like flying a Ferrari. Also It makes United happy Parham said. That s where we [GoJet] get business from. Other cities with Chicago CRJ-550 service include Allentown Pa. (ABE); Bentonville Ark

 

(XNA); Cedar Rapids Iowa (CID); Cincinnati (CVG); Columbus Ohio (CMH); Des Moines Iowa (DSM); Grand Rapids Mich. (GRR); Harrisburg Pa. (MDT); Indianapolis (IND); Madison Wis. (MSN); Oklahoma City (OKC); Richmond (RIC); St. Louis (STL) and Tulsa (TUL). Veteran travel writer Joe Brancatelli said that while he likes the CRJ 550 he cannot ignore the history that says once you pull seats from an airplane you lose

 

Once you reflect onconsideration on it the five-year-run of LaCompagnie at the Paris-Newark run is the longest of any airline that’s running less-than-it-could be configured planes Brancatelli said. Each of the other attempts to down gauge capacity have failed either as a separate airline or as a fleet within a fleet

 

Real estate on an aircraft is so bloody expensive. In terms of cost United gets one cash in on flying just 50 seats: it s the best capacity federal regulations allow with only 1 flight attendant. Additionally the carrier has reached the limit of 255 aircraft with 70 to 76 seats which might be flown by its regional partners under its contract with the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association

 

The contract does however allow for almost 200 more 50-seaters so reconfiguring 70 seat aircraft to have 50 seats seems a logical course at least for now. Todd Insler chairman of the United ALPA chapter said in an interview Our current 50-seat product is not the main desirable for our high-yield customers

 

The 550 appears to have some things that our high yield customers are interested in. It s designed to fill that niche. The scope clause allows it Insler said. It s a probable solution that they came up with for considered one of their problems. We ll see if it works

 

The present pilot contract became amendable in January 2019. In a November 14 update to members United ALPA wrote that the scope clause is being negotiated. Although the company is drawn to quickly securing more 76-seat RJ feed to meet their competitive needs for the small end of our network we’ve not found a path that’s acceptable to United pilots the union said adding Scope is simply too important to rush and over-eagerness to shut a deal is not in our long-term interest

 

The United Airlines CRJ-550 has extra room for bags. UNITED AIRLINES

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