Normally, I tend to avoid regional jets. I just never found them comfortable, and smaller planes make me nervous. However, on a recent business trip to Omaha, I found myself with no other choice. If I wanted to return home the same day, I’d have to bite that bullet on the day’s last flight. I originally booked this flight, operated by an Embraer 175, in coach. However, as one final hurrah of my Gold status, I received an upgrade to First. Thus, I had the chance to sample the American E-175 first class experience.
Amazingly enough, this was my first flight ever on American Eagle. This also marked my first flight on the E-175. Hey, I said I’m serious about avoiding regional jets. My avgeek friends, though, always insisted that the E-175 is a fine ride, so I actually looked forward to trying it out. Finally, this was my first visit to Omaha’s Eppley Airfield
Related: review of Alaska Airlines’ E-175 First Class by Rocky.
American Airlines (AA) Flight 3248
- Tuesday, January 10, 2017
- Operated by American Eagle
- Depart: Omaha – Eppley Airfield (OMA), Gate A7, 19:21, 2m early
- Arrive: DFW International Airport (DFW), Terminal B, Gate B12, 21:07, 8m early
- Duration: 1 hour 46 minutes
- Seat: 3A
- Equipment: Embraer 175
My business meeting was in Lincoln, 60 miles to the west. Following an easy drive over, I arrived at the terminal about 90 minutes prior to boarding. Security had a grand total of one person in line, and they did have a PreCheck lane. Needless to say, it took maybe 30 seconds to get through. Compare this to my flight here from DFW, where the TSA shut down the Terminal C PreCheck lane at 7. Grrrr….
Anyway, though boarding began a few minutes late, these small planes board much more efficiently. I quickly found my seat in the pointy end, and we pushed back a couple of minutes early.
American E-175 First Class – Seating and Interior
American configures this version with 12 seats in First, 20 in Main Cabin Extra, and 44 in Main Cabin. Though a smallish plane, that seemed like a spacious, passenger-friendly arrangement. First Class, meanwhile, consists of four rows in a 1-2 configuration. For those lucky enough to grab a window on the left, that means an excellent amount of space and privacy.
I did manage to snag 3A, one of the single seats. The seat seemed more spacious than the advertised 37-inch pitch. Perhaps that’s because of the single-seat configuration.
Meanwhile, the seat itself came upholstered in smart, grey leather, and was in great shape. It also contained noticeably better elbow room, thanks to not having a neighbor to worry about.
On the other hand, the seats did seem rather thin. Since this was only an hour and 45 minute flight, I didn’t notice any comfort issues. In fact, I found them comfortable on both the legs and back. However, I can’t say how these might hold up on a longer flight.
One word of caution: there is a noticeable difference in overhead bin space between the left and right sides. The bins on the right can handle a standard rollaboard. The ones on the left, though, can only fit a large backpack or smaller bags. I had to use the bin across the aisle for my carry-on.
American E-175 First Class – In-Flight Entertainment
Count me as surprised when I discovered working WiFi on this flight! American has equipped these newer E-175s with the GoGo WiFi found on mainline jets. Speeds weren’t bad at all, and as a T-Mobile customer, I thoroughly enjoyed the one hour of free WiFi. Unfortunately, there is one glaring omission – no in-seat power. Granted, on a sub-two hour flight, it’s not a major issue. However, keep this in mind if you need to work away in the terminal before boarding. If you were hoping to juice up and continue working on board, you’re SOL.
American E-175 First Class – Food, Beverage, and In-Flight Experience
Much to my surprise, the First Class FA came through and offered a pre-departure beverage. Considering that PDBs are hit-and-miss even on mainline, this impressed me. I ordered a gin & tonic to get the party started. Following a long day, it really hit the spot.
Once airborne, the FA commenced the main service about 20 minutes after take-off. Omaha to Dallas is a distance of just 586 miles, so besides another beverage, the only offering consisted of AA’s infamous First Class snack basket. Though I remain generally unimpressed, the offerings are marginally improved compared to the rollout in 2014. CLIF bars qualify as yummy, at least.
Overall service rated decent for domestic First Class. The FA was friendly, offered pre-departure beverages, encouraged taking seconds from the snack basket, etc. In other words, just fine for a short domestic flight. Since this was a night flight, I unfortunately couldn’t do much picture taking. But I did manage a nice shot of Grapevine Mills Mall and the sprawling lights of the Metroplex on our final approach to the DFW airfield.
American E-175 First Class – Final Thoughts
Talk about setting preconceived notions on their head. After getting jaded by an excruciating 4-hour flight from JFK to DFW in a Delta Connection CRJ-700 some years ago, I swore off regional jets. Furthermore, I never bought the notion that the E-170/E-190 series represented a big step up. As it turns out, the E-175 really is a nice ride, especially at the pointy end. As Rocky noted, these planes represent a significant improvement over the typical CRJ or E-145. No, I don’t think I’d want to fly one of these on a 3-hour flight, but for a short 600-mile flight like this one, it’s a good plane. Especially if you score one of those single seats!
Photo at top: “N410YX – Republic Airlines Embraer 175, Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Airport” by Daniel Betts, via Flickr Creative Commons, license Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International