9 Things We Actually Love About Flying in Small Planes

by  Christine Wei | Feb 20, 2014
Plane in the sky
Plane in the sky / undefinedundefined/iStock

Sure, you might encounter some increased turbulence (and an occasional slide on the runway) when you're flying on a small regional jets, also referred to as CRJs. But those incidents are relatively rare – especially when viewed in the context of the tens of thousands of flights scheduled in the country each day. In fact, there's plenty to love about a bite-sized aircraft. In the spirit of sticking up for the little guy, here are nine reasons why a smaller plane could make your next trip better:

1. A whole row to yourself. Classic 50-seat planes boast a "2 and 1" configuration, meaning that each row is split into two adjoining seats and one single seat. So it's possible that you won't have to share your row with anyone else. Bye bye, armrest wars!

2. No middle seats. Even if you don't end up in a single seat, you won't be stuck between two passengers. This is even true for the larger CRJs, which maintain "2 and 2" configurations.

3. Smaller crowds at the gate. Unlike the the huge lines that start forming 20 minutes before boarding for a huge international flight, CRJs load up in just a few minutes.

4. Stricter carry-on rules. Limited storage space on smaller planes prevents passengers from lumbering down the aisle with huge rollerboards, and taking five years to shove them into the overhead bins. Plus, if you do have a bag you have to gate-check, you can often do so free of charge, provided the carry-on is within standard limits.

5. Faster boarding and deplaning. All in all, this adds up to getting on and off the plane much more quickly. No complaints about that.

6. Getting out on the tarmac. Provided it's not freezing out, there's something fun about walking right up to your plane. You can wax nostalgic about the early days of aviation, before fancy jet bridges were invented – or pretend you're boarding your very own private jet.

7. Regional jets equals regional airports. On a practical note, smaller planes often service smaller airports. Those smaller airports can be far more convenient to reach than the big airports, cutting your commute and your hassle.

8. Better, friendlier service. In our experience, the one or two flight attendants servicing the CRJs are generally more relaxed and friendlier on more intimate planes. We didn't conduct formal interviews, but perhaps speeding through boarding and not having to hoist rollerboards make them feel better, too.

9. Recent (small) expansions. For the sake of the more claustrophobic among us (well, and also for profit), the industry is attempting to find a sweet spot between the efficiency of smaller aircraft and the more robust amenities of larger planes. New CRJ-700, CRJ-900, and CRJ-1000 carriers can seat between 65 and 100 travelers, whereas popular domestic 737 aircrafts have roughly 150- to 200-seat capacities and international A380s feature approximately 500 seats.

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