Flying on smaller jets

 
Old Oct 29, 05, 9:10 am
  #1  
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Flying on smaller jets

Whenever I've booked flights I always try to stay on a plane no smaller than an MD80, due to me being a bit afraid of the smaller planes. I don't know why it kind of freaks me out, it just does. Mind you I've never been on one, just was on a prop plane when I was a kid but nothing happened.

Well, I'm on a gold challenge starting Dec 1, and I think I can make it if I take a multi-stop flight from MKE to ATL. Doing so would put me on a ER4 for a few of the legs...MKE to ORD and ATL to STL.

Just looking for some reassurance that I don't need to be wigging out over being on a small jet.......
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Old Oct 29, 05, 9:16 am
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In my opinion, there is nothing scary about any of the Embraer jets. The seats are a bit smaller than on mainline planes, and the overhead bins are useless -- none at all on the A side, and a verrry small bin on the BC side -- A small backpack or notebook computer bag fits, but not much more. The rider on the ERJ is very quiet, and unlike the CRJ, the windows are big enough and at the propper height for looking out. The curve of the fusselage eats into the foot room a bit on the window seats, but nonetheless I think the solo A seats (that seat is both window and aisle) are the best seats. The exit row provides a couple of extra inches of legroom.

The most striking thing I've noticed in the ERJ's is the great accelleration on takeoff roll, unlike the much larger and pokier mainline jets. Connecting from an ER3 to a 777 going to Europe, the 777 felt like it was never gonna get moving.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 9:24 am
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So from what you are saying, I probably can't bring a carryon? Usually on short trips I don't check luggage..I have a smaller rolling suitcase but I am guessing it won't fit on the small planes...

How does checked luggage come into play on flights with one or more layovers?? I've never done that either....
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Old Oct 29, 05, 9:27 am
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If you don't like to check bags, a definite plus to the smaller jets is the ability to do plane side baggage drop-off and pick-up without worrying about finding overhead bin space. Its like having the convenience of checking your baggage but at the last moment possible which means you get it at the first moment possible on the other end.

And when it comes time to deplane even those in the rear are usually off the plane really quickly. For short haul flights I love the smaller jets.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 9:33 am
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AAShel,

You have NOTHING to worry about. I was in the exact same position as you. I was not used to flying the regional jets and was a little scared. Not that I thought we would crash, but I don't love turbulence and thought that the jet would be more sensitive to turbulence.

Well, flying a regional jet is essentially exactly like a bigger jet, except with less legroom. Is it more sensitive to turbulence? Maybe a tiny bit more, but not in a big way.

Unlike a turboprop, the jets fly just as high and fast and get to the better weather the same way a larger jet does. The ER4's are very reliable and I've now been flying on 20-30 a year.

And statistically, American Eagle has 3-4 flights to every mainline American flight, so that gives you an idea of the reliability of the aircraft.

I understand where you're coming from, but believe me, once you fly this aircraft you'll never worry again.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 9:43 am
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I actually don't mind the ERJs. Gate checking carry-on tends to work well enough. The ride is comfortable enough if you are in the exit row. The problem is they come in two sizes and, at least at BOS, when you're scheduled on ERD (44 seats) and it has a mechanical problem, they tend to replace it with a ER3 (37 seats). Before I had PLT, that happened often enough that I used to joke that buying a ticket on American Eagle was the cheapest way to fly Continental.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 9:49 am
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Welcome to the RJ world, AAShel... there's nothing to worry about that

Originally Posted by chrisw
there is nothing scary about any of the Embraer jets
Originally Posted by dansac
but believe me, once you fly this aircraft you'll never worry again
Originally Posted by j3823x
For short haul flights I love the smaller jets
 
Old Oct 29, 05, 9:49 am
  #8  
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People who have fears about smaller planes base these fears on frequency of accidents. As a licensed pilot, instrument rated, my belief is that smaller planes are not more dangerous, but smaller airports are (slightly) more dangerous in bad weather. Smaller airports sometimes lack the level of instrument navigation assists that larger airports have. The airports that the OP is flying to are all major airports, so I would not worry about safety at all.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 12:50 pm
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Technologically speaking, an Embraer or Bombardier regional jet is no less complex than an MD80. Think of an RJ just as a smaller MD80.

From a pax standpoint, they'd ride pretty much the same. Every bit as smooth as an MD80. They may be a bit more susceptible to turbulence because of their size, but it's not a huge differential. True, on the smaller ERJs there are no luggage bins, but it's not a huge deal.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 12:55 pm
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Originally Posted by AAShel
Whenever I've booked flights I always try to stay on a plane no smaller than an MD80, due to me being a bit afraid of the smaller planes. I don't know why it kind of freaks me out, it just does. Mind you I've never been on one, just was on a prop plane when I was a kid but nothing happened.

Well, I'm on a gold challenge starting Dec 1, and I think I can make it if I take a multi-stop flight from MKE to ATL. Doing so would put me on a ER4 for a few of the legs...MKE to ORD and ATL to STL.

Just looking for some reassurance that I don't need to be wigging out over being on a small jet.......
Safety wise these planes are excellent. All the ERJs and CRJs have all glass cockpits and the most modern systems equal to (or in the case of the MD-80/DC-9/737 Classics, better than) any big jets. They also have an excellent overall safety record.

Where they fall short is in passenger comfort. A lot of us "wig out" at the thought of being stuck in one of these for hours on end, but not out of fear of crashing.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 5:54 pm
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Originally Posted by dansac
I don't love turbulence and thought that the jet would be more sensitive to turbulence.
The size of the airplane is irrelevant with regard to how it rides through turbulence. The important factor for turbulence is wing loading which is the total weight of the aircraft divided by the area of the wing. The higher the wing loading, i.e. more pounds per square foot of wing area, the better the ride. The trade off is that a wing with high wing loading will have faster takeoff and landing speeds so it will require more runway.

The RJs have a very similar wing loading to the large passenger jets so their ride through turbulence should be about the same. You will notice a difference on a single type airplane, RJ or 747, between flights that are full and flights that are empty. Full (heavy) flights will ride better than lightly loaded flights for the same reason--their wing loading is higher on full flights.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 6:20 pm
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Originally Posted by LarryJ
The size of the airplane is irrelevant with regard to how it rides through turbulence. The important factor for turbulence is wing loading which is the total weight of the aircraft divided by the area of the wing. The higher the wing loading, i.e. more pounds per square foot of wing area, the better the ride. The trade off is that a wing with high wing loading will have faster takeoff and landing speeds so it will require more runway.

The RJs have a very similar wing loading to the large passenger jets so their ride through turbulence should be about the same. You will notice a difference on a single type airplane, RJ or 747, between flights that are full and flights that are empty. Full (heavy) flights will ride better than lightly loaded flights for the same reason--their wing loading is higher on full flights.
This is great info Larry - thanks much.

I've tried to learn a lot about turbulence over the years as a recovering fearful flyer, including attendance at an AAirBorn seminar some 15 years ago. Nobody has ever gone over the wing loading issue for me though!
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Old Oct 29, 05, 6:41 pm
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Did a few segs on regional jets in august, followed immediately by a couple on an MD-80. I cannot believe I am about to say this, but the MD-80 actually felt...uh....big...after all that. And I'm 6'5". (Wow...did I really say that?) The above posts are right about the useless bin space. I wouldn't even try a rolling carry on in those...maybe just a boarding bag, and "check" your rolling carry on at the door/bottom of the stairs as you board.


It's when you spend a lot of time on MD-80's (welcome to AA) that they really do feel like goin' Greyhound with wings. You're really feel the "transition to phone booth" if connecting on one after a transpond on a 777.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 6:57 pm
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I am frequently forced to fly from what must be the AA RJ world hub, and have come to appreciate the Embraer jets. Iím almost always in A1, 2, or 3, traveling lightly (one true 18Ē roll-on, one laptop and briefcase that fits under seat or overhead easily). I consider the jetway roll-on pickup very convenient, as opposed to the wait for someone to attempt to cram/retrieve all of their gear into an overhead on a larger plane (Iíll not discuss carry-ons here. ) I do prefer the Embraers over the Bombardiers (1-2 vs. 2-2) because my seat, however small, is mine in the A row. Iím of medium size, and have no problem.

I consider these planes quick and efficient. At many airports, you may be arriving at the far end of the terminal, so be sure to compensate for connections.

As Skye1 mentioned, the 777 is definitely in a different class, but I'll take my chances with an Embraer over an MD-80 or 757 on heavily traveled routes at peak hours.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 7:03 pm
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Advice from one who lives on RJ's

AA,

There are things to be afraid of on small jets... like will I be able to stand all the way up in the aisle, how much of my neighbor will be riding in my seat with me and whether your toothbrush will fit in the overhead bins, but the safety of the planes isnt one of them. These are incredibly safe planes with really great pilots. Have had the pleasure of sitting next to a few of the pilots who were non-rev'ing and in speaking to them they are as committed to what they do and our safety as any mainline pilots.

I have to fly CRJ's all the time (they are the largest thing in and out of my home airport) and used to be so excited when I would connect to a "real plane" (the big jets) but now actually try to take RJ's any time possible. Yes the seats are smaller and there arent the perks and upgrades but I find some real benefits in them:

1) as was mentioned ease of gate checking
2) I find the staff's friendlier, usually one FA and they seem happier and calmer
3) the service is much faster (drinks for 50 vs drinks for 500)
4) less chance of one or more screaming child or one of those people who doesnt know they cna use their "inside voice" on a plane being around meaning better chance for a quieter flight
5) Faster boarding and deplaning. This is especially beneficial if your flight is running late....think about it your flight is an hour late, they finally get the plane, do you want to wait while they board 500 people? 50 can be done in a flash. Same when deplaning to catch a tight connection.

I know we all bust on these tiny planes (I call them toothpaste tubes) but they are definitely safe and even have pluses. One thing to keep in mind is that many airports do not use the jet ways for them, so be prepared dress wise to be outside even in cold weather.
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