Why, one day, all the Delta CRJ200s really MUST go away (and that day must come soon)!

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Delta Connection high rez photo RenesPoints

We are now well over a month into Delta offering C+ “upgrade” on CRJ200s. I know – it is just ridiculous. I have simply run out of words to describe how silly this upgrade is. But it really begs the question of why Delta is flying these jets at all in this modern day and age. Notice what one reader Steve commented on the blog:

“I guess my question is – Why would any mainline airline or mainline airline contractor still fly the CRJ200? Or CRJ anything for that matter. The E and C jets should have put the CRJ’s in the grave or at least third-world countries.

Even though I’m an Alaska elite, I still learn stuff from reading your column.” – Steve

Well Steve, I agree with your statement / question. The real question to me is not why Delta flies them but but how much longer. And the “why” really answers itself. Take a look:

Delta CRJ200 from ground RenesPoints blog

Gas / fuel economy. These jets are simply not fuel efficient. They are old technology and cannot be updated beyond the change from the CRJ100 to CRJ200 with modest improvements in fuel efficiency.

Age – how old these jets are. While Delta does not include on Delta.com just how old the fleet of CRJ200s their regional partners fly Wikipedia says they were all produced between 1991-2006 (this included CRJ100s that are mostly parked in the desert by now). Bottom line a ton of these jets are nearly 20 years old and they are showing their age as well as the number of flight cycles each has completed (i.e. takeoffs and landings adds to maintenance costs).

Lack of Wifi. Wifi is just not an “optional” choice when flying. Passengers expect it today. Not just expect it but expect it to be fast. Gogo is ready to rock out 2KU on all the jets Delta wants the technology on but do not ever expect Gogo on a CRJ200. Another nail in the coffin for these old birds.

No 1st class seats (nor room to put them in). Even the CRJ700 has 9 – 1st class seats thus offering you a shot at a “real” medallion upgrade. Depending on the route your upgrades chances are in fact very good on these birds.

Lack of overhead space. There are just so few carry-on bags that fit in the overhead bins on a CRJ200. Sure you can gate check them but that not only takes time after your flight but it can and does result in damaged bags.

Slow / poor service. I am in no way saying the regional FAs don’t do a great job but with only one rep for up to 50 passengers it just is hard to do anything more that stop by once for service and once for trash. When two FAs are on-board you simply get better service no matter where you are seated.

Other choices. With more and more airlines dumping these horrid jets if another airline offers a better choice frequent flyers will take the better offer. Especially so with loyalty programs becoming less of a draw than they once were.

Pilot shortage. This is the big one and will, in the long run, be the biggest overriding factor – that is, the ever growing problem that there are not going to be enough pilots to fly all the planes in the air soon. That means you need less planes that hold more people.

row of Delta CRJ200s RenesPoints blog

Bottom line, while it has taken longer than anyone expected, the clock on the CRJ200s is ticking and one day they will all be parked for good. Yes it may mean possibly less frequent flights from your home town airport but that is not going to stop what is on the way and I am frankly happy to have less flights on bigger jets. This cannot happen soon enough for me! – René

 

 

 

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12 comments

  1. I totally get how bad CRJ can be compared to its competitors… however saying “the E and C jets should have put the CRJ’s in the grave or at least third-world countries” with particular note to “at least third-world countries”.
    What can I say? Does it mean Steve thinks all the crap belongs or should be placed in third world countries? Seriously? Does he think the travelers in third world countries should get something he believe should be in the grave?

  2. Air Canada flies the Dash prop aircraft that I really enjoy. Comfortable and quiet. Several variety of sizes.
    I understand they fly them because of their fuel efficiency. Great for two hour or less flights.

  3. With all due respect, if it means keeping more frequent service back and forth to ATL I will happily settle for a CRJ over nothing. We get one mainline(319, 737 or 717) jet per day(up late at night, back down early am). We get CRJ’s the other 3 or 4 times a day. We could be stuck with the occasional Dash 8 like AA and UA still fly. CRJ’s are fine for a 55 minute connection.

  4. @Cristiano – When I mentioned “third world country”, it was just a figure of speech to show how crazy it is to fly these ancient and unpopular planes. Cristiano, if you think that I am insulting third world countries, you completely missed the point of Rene’s post and my comment. The CRJ jets are hated by everyone.

    Rene, I enjoy your column and I appreciate reader feedback even when they disagree with me.

  5. I am old enough to remember when the DL regional aircraft fleet consisted of EMB-120 and ATR-72 prop planes. The CRJs were a VAST improvement over those aircraft. For <500 mile segments, the CRJs are OK unless you are extremely broad of girth.
    The problem was that the carriers (not just DL) saw that these CRJs had a greater range/speed over the props and started using them as a substitute for longer mainline routes, thinking customers wouldn't notice the difference. We did. I think management/labor issues also had something to do with it but in any event, the days of extended flying on a CRJ 200 are fading away.

  6. I have recently been to a number of less developed countries in Southeast Asia. They are all flying 737’s and A319’s.

    I think we are the backward country and I don’t think your explanation of a figure of speech rings true.

  7. I agree… cannot get rid of these tiny jets soon enough!! I avoid them at all cost as I refuse to allow Delta’s “baggage thugs” handle my bags unless absolutely necessary and then I use my old, previously beat up bags. As you mention damage DOES happen and Delta refuses to recognize.

  8. Less developed doesn’t equate to third world.

    And of course third world countries often get our “hand me downs”. Nothing wrong with that process. As long as the CRJ is an improvement over what the country has now then both sides win.

  9. CRJ200 are tough if you are sitting next to a person of broad girth as well. Windows are made for 6 year olds. A/C goes off during descent as its on main power supply and to use alternate power supply uses more fuel – may effect pilots fuel bonus? CRJ7/9’s would be a big improvement and shouldn’t effect schedule too much.
    Also, Delta has told us over and over again the CRJ200 was to be retired starting in 2/12 with press release. Google SKYWEST/Expressjet and CRJ200 and you’ll find Skywest wrote them off last year and plan to stop flying end of 2017. Why then is Delta still scheduling in MAR/APR 2018?

  10. I’ll never understand those who complain that the CRJ’s are antiquated and out of date yet cry that the 747 isn’t used more often. Talk about illogical arguments.

    That aside, the CRJ does the job it is supposed to do. They’re remarkably reliable and efficient, and they’re perfectly sized for the routes they service.

  11. I work in the airline maintenance industry. 5 years ago we were forecasting the CRJ200 to go away (almost completely) by now, but fuel prices staying somewhat low have allowed these birds to hang around. Even though the planes themselves are not so fuel efficient, many of them are paid for, and the maintenance cost of the planes is relatively cheap when compared to other aircraft. Express Jet (one of Delta’s larger feeders in ATL) is phasing their 200s out this year, but Skywest seems to be picking up some of those old XJT planes and utilizing them in their fleet. It’s definitely not my favorite plane to fly in either, but it’s purely an economics decision that’s driving longer life in those old birds.

    Regarding those A320s and B737s in Asia countries – Have you ever flown with Tiger Air, Lion Air, Vietjet or Cebu Pacific? I’ve flown with all of them (Vietjet just last week), and sure, most of them are newer (leased) airplanes, but unless you have an exit row seat, it’s very tight quarters throughout the cabin, and there is no business class with those carriers. The only relief is most Asian folks tend to be more fit than most Americans, so chances are you won’t be sitting next to someone who needs the seatbelt extension on an Asian carrier.

  12. Yes – as a 2 MMiler and Diamond on Delta I have flown a number of flights on most planes that Delta flies. I have also flown Lion, Air Asia, NOK Air and a few other Asian carriers as long ago as this past April. These Carrier’s planes are full but so are Delta’s. At 6′ 2″, I didn’t notice much, if any, of a difference in seat comfort / legroom between these carriers and Delta. The one true statement was normally I was the biggest guy on the plane.so other passengers “leaking” into my space wasn’t an issue for me.

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