Alaska Airlines is phasing out their Bombardier CRJ-700 in favor of larger and more comfortable Embraer 175. The E-175s will replace all CRJ-700s by the end of November 2016. I was fortunate enough to fly Alaska’s E-175 on the second day the plane replaced the CRJ-700 on the Seattle to Fresno. As an Alaska MVP 75K I was provided with a complimentary upgrade from Economy class to First Class.
In Seattle, Alaska Airlines boards the E-175 from their outdoors regional plane stands at the C gates. The remote stands are accessed by a semi-permanent enclosed structure to protect passengers from the weather elements, such as rain, wind and sun, but do require a short 20 feet walk to the aircraft unprotected. Thankfully for me, it was not raining in Seattle and boarding was painless. Upon Arrival in Fresno Alaska Airlines is now using a jet-bridge. A jet-bridge is a bonus, especially on hot summer days!
I was assigned seat 1A in the first seat in the First Class cabin. Alaska Airlines E-175 First Class cabin has a 1×2 seat configuration similar to most regional jets which feature a First Class. Seats 1-4A are the best for single travelers, whereas seats C&D are better for couples. 1A is a bulkhead seat and provides plenty of legroom without worrying about a passenger reclining into one’s personal space. I am 5”10” and I had plenty of room to stretch my legs. If you are taller, consider a non bulkhead row.
A bottle of water is awaiting each First class passenger and serves as Alaska Airlines pre-flight beverage. Other complimentary beverages, including alcohol, are available once in the air.
Seattle to Fresno is a short 2 hour flight, just 750 miles apart. Despite the short distance, Alaska Airlines caters a light meal service. My flight departed at 9:05am, but was catered for lunch. Although Breakfast would have been more appropriate, I will not complain about free food!
Lunch service began with hot towel service and was followed by warm nuts and drink service. If I didn’t know any better I would of thought I was on a mainline jet!
As passengers snacked on warm nuts, the flight attendant warmed up chicken skewers to be served with a light and delicious couscous salad. A package oatmeal cookie was on the meal tray for dessert.
The Embraer-175 is a very comfortable aircraft and includes Alaska Beyond Entertainment, Gogo Wi-fi, power at each seat in First class, and mid-size overhead luggage bins. The bins are capable of holding standard size carry-on luggage. My Tumi carry-on fit perfectly, but the expandable pocket must be closed/zipped in order to fit. So no over packing!
The E-175 provides a better overall flying experience! Compared to the CRJ-700s, the E-175 features a larger cabin, updated on-board amenities, two bathrooms (one for each class), and larger windows for better views outside. Not to mention, if stuck in coach, the plane is stocked with the famous Alaska Airlines Beecher’s cheese and fruit platters, which is a huge win!
If you have the opportunity to fly the E-175, I would highly recommend it! The planes feature a large open feeling like a mainline plane and with 1×2 seating in First Class and 2×2 in Economy class, every seat feels more like First Class. Everything is just more spacious! Alaska in-flight service is almost always awesome and these new planes on these long and thin routes is warmly welcomed!