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Midwest Connect (Republic) E170 MKE-LGA

Midwest Connect (Republic) E170 MKE-LGA

Old May 28, 09, 9:40 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: MSN
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Midwest Connect (Republic) E170 MKE-LGA

Midwest 2015, operated by Republic flying as Midwest Connect
15 May 2009
Seats 10A/B

On 15 May, I took my first Republic-operated flight on Midwest Connect. As many on FT are aware, Midwest is going through a lot of changes. Once truly "The Best Care in the Air," as they market themselves, Midwest and its employees have struggled through very difficult times. Many on FT have decried the passing of "The Best Care in the Air," replaced by generic airline service. Since my last Midwest Connect trip was last year on Skywest CRJs, I was therefore curious to see how the Republic E170 service stacked up.

I apologize for the lack of pictures. My partner and I are prolific photographers, but for some reason, we both feel self-conscious hauling out the big Nikons to shoot on-board pictures.

This was the first leg of a Wisconsin - New York - Paris trip. Separate trip reports will follow for the Air France JFK-CDG segment and the Delta CDG-ATL-MKE segment.

This was the 10:20am flight, that operates between the big banks of flights. Check-in was therefore pretty quiet, and we were able to walk right up to the counter. The agent was pleasant enough, and pointed out that our biggest suitcase (my partner and I had 4 bags between us, given the length of the trip) was 3lbs overweight. I told him that's fine, I don't want to repack my bags, I'd figured baggage costs into the cost of the trip (with an $88 one-way to LGA, who can argue about baggage costs; add $60 for 2 bags, and you still have $148 one-way, a bargain), and just handed him my credit card. He looked surprised, then I looked to my left and saw 3 other agents each dealing with passengers arguing about baggage fees. He ran my credit card, tagged my bags, and then I realized the baggage costs were less than what I'd figured, PLUS I had an overweight bag. He said, oops, I forgot to charge you for a bag or two, and kind of grinned and shrugged. I don't know whether it was an honest mistake or a "bonus" for being nice about the baggage costs.

The shoe shine before security is a must-do, as long as there's time. They do an excellent job, so I just wear the shoes that need polishing when I fly out of MKE and let them do their magic.

Security took about 5 minutes. MKE always has the friendliest TSA of any airport I've been to. I don't why a few of them can't come over to MSN; there's such a big difference in attitude and demeanor, yet still as cautious and professional as can be. I particularly love the signs above an area of benches post-security that say, "RECOMBOBULATION CENTER". I guess if you can be discombobulated, then you can be "combobulated" or "recombobulated."

Since a cloud floated somewhere over the Northeast that morning, LGA had ground hold of 90min plus a ground stop. The gate staff were super-nice about being up-front about it and telling everyone we had time to go get something to eat, instead of waiting at the gate. We tried the new Bartalotta's for brunch, and it was great. It's a big improvement to have a good restaurant in terminal D.

We were able to leave much sooner than the 90min originally posted, and the agents made frantic announcements throughout the terminal to get back to the gate and get on the plane. Nonetheless, it was nice of them to try to give us a chance to make use of the expected delay. They had the full E170 boarded and ready to go in about 15 minutes.

The 2-2 seating was very comfortable, even for two 6-foot-plus, broad-shouldered guys sitting next to each other (just imagine what that's like on a CRJ). The blue leather cushioning was comfortable; the legroom was adequate; the shoulder-room was adequate. While it's no 717 Signature seat, it's better than the 717 coach seats, not to mention a world apart from the CRJ seats. Throughout the flight, we commented on how the E170s were quite comfortable for a flight to the East Coast, but I wasn't sure about going to the West Coast in one. Since that time, we've learned about the Republic E190s with some 1-2 Signature seating that might be used for MKE-West Coast runs.

Overhead space was roomy for our stuffed backpacks, and I think it would fit a full-sized carryon that we'd use for a weekend trip.

The safety briefing was done by our two friendly Washington, D.C.-based FAs, who greeted everyone with a smile during boarding and smiled and addressed passengers politely while checking aisles and seatbelts prior to takeoff.

After takeoff and a bumpy climbout past some weather, the very friendly FAs did a drink service and Midwest’s BOB snack service (which I don’t really care for). I asked whether the BOB meals were offered on the E170s, like on the 717s, and she politely replied that they only did meals on the West Coast runs for the E170. That’s a bit of a disappointment, especially since the BOB snack options don’t typically include something breakfast-appropriate. We were glad we had eaten at Bartalotta’s beforehand. We learned this the hard way on the CRJ flight to Newark last November, but we thought maybe it’d be better on the E170. Midwest should make this service discrepancy much clearer on their website, instead of just saying BOB meals are offered on Midwest Airlines and “select” Midwest Connect flights. It’s unnecessarily vague. The issue of whether they serve meals isn’t that important, but knowing ahead of time to eat a proper meal is, especially for those of us who find it easier to be healthy by planning our meals throughout the day, rather than eating haphazardly, especially when travelling. If anyone from Midwest or Republic reads this, a simple clarification on the website will probably lead to less passenger dissatisfaction and not cost you anything.

Following drinks, the wonderful smell of chocolate chip cookies filled the cabin, and the FAs distributed two cookies to each passenger (instead of the measly one per person on the Barbie-oven-equipped CRJs), then swung back through offering extras. A woman with a very well-behaved young daughter sat behind us, and the FAs made sure to send a small bag of cookies with them. That was a really thoughtful touch.

Arrival in LGA came sooner than expected, with no holding patterns (what a shock), so even with the little outbound delay, we landed only about 15 minutes behind schedule. Approach and landing were nice and smooth, offering scenic views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The seats still felt comfortable by this point in the flight.

Turnaround at LGA must have been quick, because by the time we walked outside with our bags, we saw our aircraft departing, and ours was the only Midwest Connect E170 there.

My overall first impression of Republic flying as Midwest Connect is positive. We obviously had a wonderful pair of FAs, and that friendliness, the smiles, the time to answer questions, all mean so much more than what kind of food or how many cookies are served. If Republic is going to be doing a lot of Midwest Connect flying, I hope their crews can be at that level consistently. The Midwest Airlines crews typically are, and even with the service cutbacks, the friendly, smiling service keeps passengers coming back and the ratings high.

With the onboard service cutbacks, proliferation of non-Signature seating (particularly by way of the E170s and CRJs), etc, I can’t honestly say Midwest is “The Best Care in the Air.” Those on this forum who say as much are correct. Nonetheless, Midwest Airlines and Midwest Connect remain Good Care in the Air and are certainly better than the average domestic coach or regional jet flight. While I’d no longer go out of my way to fly Midwest like I did in the past, I certainly always consider them among the various options (typically Skyteam options out of either MSN or MKE), and I usually choose based primarily on convenience. This has put me on Midwest a couple times a year (about 10-15% of my flying) and will likely continue to do so.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the Air France JFK-CDG and Delta CDG-MKE-ATL (both business class) trip reports, likely coming over the next week or so.
msntriathlete is offline  
Old May 28, 09, 9:47 pm
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Thanks. Interesting report.
chuck1 is offline  
Old May 29, 09, 9:23 am
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Very well-written report, and a pleasure to read. ^
ua_to_ord is offline  
Old Jun 9, 09, 12:13 am
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Thanks for the positive feedback!
msntriathlete is offline  
Old Jun 9, 09, 1:36 am
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Great, detailed report; also liked your AF one! I'll second the observation about MKE TSA vs. MSN TSA, but such is life.
uavking is offline  
Old Jun 9, 09, 2:24 am
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Thanks for the YX review.
Mrp Alert is offline  

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