Hello and welcome to another Flight Report! This report will cover my return journey back to DC from Syracuse. The other direction's report can be found here. Towards the end of the report I'll sum up the experiences of American's newest, competing 76-seat regional jets.
The day began with an extremely early wake-up call – early enough to be getting boarding passes printed by the world's slowest kiosk just before 5:00am. Due to the early hour, unknown length of the security line, and just general forgetfulness, I did not get any pictures of the landside "aviation gallery" at SYR. It includes a 727 cockpit, forward cabin cross section, and several other exhibits.
With being my first early-morning flight out of Syracuse in almost four years, I had forgotten just how many seats are scheduled for early morning departures. On this post-Thanksgiving Sunday, Delta was operating an A319 to DTW, MD-90 to ATL, and a CRJ-900 to each of MSP, JFK and LGA. American had my E175 to DCA and another to PHL, a CRJ-700 to ORD, an A319 to CLT, and a CRJ-200 patiently waiting for a later DCA flight. JetBlue had two E190s, one each to JFK and FLL. United is really the odd one out in Syracuse – on one of the busiest travels days of the year, United was operating a Dash-8 200 to both IAD and EWR, and a CRJ-200 to ORD.
Including the AC Beechcraft departing for YYZ, there was only one vacant gate. Pretty impressive for the former Piedmont hub.
By the time I cleared security and reached gate 5, it was nearly time for boarding. Checking out the windows confirmed that this would be my first flight on an Embraer E-Jet with the new winglet design.
As boarding started, it also started snowing – deicing definitely required. On this flight I lucked out, the aisle seat next to me remained empty, as did the entirety of row 23. We pushed back on time just after 6:15am, and I got to watch a tug driver struggle to get the second JetBlue E190 lined up at gate 2.
We taxiied around towards the main deicing pad, and I was offered a view of the iconic neon Syracuse sign. I sighed, because my windows was covered with snow and slush, then took a picture. Looking at it later on my computer I realized it actually wasn't that bad.
Pulling into the deicing pad – yep, definitely required this morning.
The AC 1900D heading towards runway 28 after deicing. Waited about a second too long to take the picture, and my camera decided to refocus.
Nice and clean.
Turning onto runway 28. Most of the previous week's snow had melted already, but some of the deeper drifts were still lingering.
Pretty thick cloud layer this morning.
Nearly out …
Nice. Even with some lingering streaks of ice, the sunrise from a south-bound left window seat is amazing. The moon even poked its head out this morning.
This is what my window looked like… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The cloud layer thinned as we cruised over southeastern Pennsylvania.
A bright-red early-morning sun peeking through a hole in the cloud layer.
The sky really starting to brighten in those pre-dawn moments.
With a large portion of the passengers sleeping, the service cart soon reached me at the back of the cabin. I got a pretty good coffee and the standard pretzels – I will add here that in general, in-flight coffee has improved dramatically over the past few years, and this morning was no exception.
A beautiful reflection as we descend over Baltimore.
Passing FedEx Field.
A left turn with Andrews AFB visible… Looks like it will be another flight without the river visual approach to runway 19 – I guess I just need to fly more!
Steep right turn south of the airport.
The early morning light from here on out was incredible.
After arrival, we needed to wait for our gate to open. We arrived quite early, as the flight was blocked for 1:44, but had a flight time of just 50 minutes. Even with the deicing time, we were nearly 25 minutes early. So, the silver 737-800 on the right of the frame at gate 45 needed to depart before we could park.
Taxiing past Terminal C towards a remote stand to wait.
The mess that is the gate 35X hardstands. All of these will be replaced by an additional concourse in the next few years.
The fairly hard-to-catch AA Dash-8 at DCA. I believe these only operate to Charleston, WV (DCA-CRW).
We waited for about 15 minutes near the end of runway 15 before our gate was available.
A DTW-bound Delta A320. I'll be on a couple of those later this week heading to Oakland (I most likely will be reporting those flights).
Even with all the waiting, we pulled into gate 45 ten minutes before scheduled.
Our twin at gate 44. N436YX was delivered two weeks prior to our N437YX.
Terminal C was absolutely packed that morning, as expected. However, I leisurely left the secure area and was on a blue line train before our STA. Not too bad all in all.
And that concludes my report on AA4604. A very nice early-morning jaunt down to DC.
Now I'll get into my comparison of the E175 and CRJ-900. As I write this, the various American Eagle carriers are taking new models of both these 76-seat aircraft. A few notes: - Of course, the Embraer felt much more like a mainline aircraft, as I already knew. The CRJ felt just like its older, smaller brothers. - Both aircraft, at least in American's configuration, have sub-par legroom (see pictures below). Now, I'm pretty tall, but on American 737s and A321s I have a decent amount of knee room. On these two aircraft, there is none of that – my knees were touching the seat backs on both aircraft. - The CRJ-900 seat (at least the one I sat in) has terrible lumbar support – I was pretty uncomfortable after the 50 minute flight. - One thing that I really dislike about both aircraft is the window alignment. If configured for all economy, the windows line up pretty well in all rows. However, once both frames are configured into three classes (F, Y+, Y), each with differing seat pitches, the alignment is terrible near the center of the Y cabin. Towards the rear, where I was seated for both flights, the alignment is ok again.
Syracuse - SYR
Washington - DCA
The E175 continues to be one of the best regional jet experiences possible. Republic's offering on this early morning flight lived up to that standard.
DCA continues to be a great airport, both in terms of service and access.
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