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:
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.
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