Reader question: Do you feel safe on Delta Connection CRJ200s anymore?

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Does “connection” on the jet matter to you?

I have been complaining for years to Delta about the lack of any “real” jet service out of my home town airport South Bend or SBN. One person, who no longer works for Delta, joked with me to only fly on Notre Dame football weekends with Delta and I could then always fly mainline jets. I did not think that was very funny at all. 🙁

Delta at one point, with their connection partners, upgraded SBN to CRJ700 and CRJ900 service and I spent 50,000 SkyMiles to fly in 1A on the first such flight. But that service was short lived. So again, for years to Atlanta, Minneapolis and Detroit it has been up 1-2 hour flights on CRJ200s. Not much fun. These are old, beat up and just horrid jets to fly on. The 1st row Comfort Plus is an insulting joke.

Emergency landing and 6+ hour delay!

But should we actually be afraid to fly these due the age of the aircraft and the fact they are not flown by Delta Corp themselves? Notice what happened last night to FlyerTalk user “gypsycsc”, who in his (or her) bio says is from South Bend, on Delta connection flight 4734 from DTW to SBN:

“Experienced my first emergency landing. Loud noise coming from the rear of the plane and the pilot announced we were returning to DTW and the flight attendant would brief us on emergency landing procedures. She went through all the instructions, told us how to brace, instructed those of us in the emergency exit row, asked for any military or law enforcement personnel. Never explained the problem, but I believe it was a landing gear issue. The loud noise continued throughout the return to DTW. Plane was met by a number of fire trucks and ambulances. Fortunately, landing gear worked, and all was good. Deplaned, eventually got another plane and pushed back, only to sit on the runway a while and be told there was a mechanical problem. Returned to gate, deplaned, eventually got another plane and pushed back, only to be told there was another mechanical problem and we had to return to the gate. This time they were able to fix it, we pushed back again, fourth time was a charm, and we made it to South Bend. Upon reaching home I already have an email from Delta apologizing for the delay and saying I have received 10,000 miles. I’m simultaneously amused and insulted. I was not going to ask for anything as I’m grateful to be alive, and don’t feel miles in my account can make up for what we went through. The emergency landing was truly frightening, followed by mechanical problems on the two other planes they tried putting us on. But seriously, Delta, if you’re going to make a good will gesture, please don’t insult us by throwing us 10,000 miles.”gypsycsc on Flyertalk.com

Yikes. Double yikes. Even 4x yikes! I have never been through an emergency landing but have experienced any number of go-around (not at all the same thing, I know). But I have to tell you I am always a little bit concerned every time I get on a CRJ200 knowing how many cycles each of these old jets complete in their lifetime of flying.

I also agree with the Flyertalker that 10,000 SkyMiles was a ridiculous offer. Either just apologize sincerely and offer no points or if you do offer SkyMiles make it much more in a situation as bad as this Delta!

Clearly, the regional carriers must be doing a decent job of maintenance since they keep flying them day after day so maybe I should not be concerned at all.

But that brings me to you, dear reader. Are you ever worried to fly a CRJ200? Does it make any difference to you that you are flying an older Delta mainline jet vs. a non-Delta (but painted to look Delta) regional connection partner? Let me know in the comments below! – René

 

 

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20 comments

  1. I worry much less about this than about airlines such as Allegiant and many foreign carriers with potentially questionable maintenance practices.

    I flew for the Air Force for 20+years, and have had multiple emergencies both on AF and civilian planes. With VERY few exceptions, the professionalism and training of the crews, coupled with high FAA maintenance standards (yes planes get old AND things can slip through the cracks, but…) I’m more concerned about COMFORT when flying most US carriers.

    I would obviously rather have a maintenance delay or cancellation than take a bad plane….another example that you should feel pretty safe flying these planes as the airline made the costly choice of grounding the planes rather than risking your life.

    As for the 10K skymiles after MULTIPLE equipment changes for mechanical reasons? THAT is appalling. I don’t ever expect something for nothing, and I would obviously rather have a maintenance delay or cancellation than take a bad plane, but THAT many changes/cancellations for one flight…. at least DOUBLE the skymiles would be more appriate IMHO.

  2. Haven’t flown one since last year, DTW-HPN. It was “OK”, but the partner jets do feel older and less cared for, even compared to the Mad Dogs. We’ll see if I have any issues in February for DTW-MQT, other than weather.

    Honestly though, I also flew an AAL partner’s Dash 8-300 last year BDL-PHL, and that was a far less comfortable ride than any RJ.

  3. Obviously I am not a fan of these awful little jets, but since my only Delta destination(ATL) is served 4 to 5X daily, I’ll put up with more frequent service rather than risk losing service to 1 or 2X on a bigger jet. We get one mainline flight daily(at night) but the CRJ’s enable a much more flexible schedule for a tiny airport.
    As for safety, even these old planes see scheduled maintenance by qualified pros.

  4. according to those mindlessly DL tech ops people, their 30 year old jets are safer than brand new deliveries at every rival airline.

  5. I flew one a weeks ago. I felt totally safe but was incredibly uncomfortable. I’ll still take a Mad Dog any day over it, though.

  6. i commute out of an airport served by Skywest (Delta Connection) a combination of CRJ 200s, 700s, and 900s. Yes he latter 2 are more comfortable with 1st and better C+ seats (you know the C+ on 200s are the worst joke around; exit row aisle b or c bearable). The Skywest SLC-based 200s seem maintained, and i experience almost no delays, mechanical or otherwise (SLC & Calif. dry weather helps).

    PS i do see good for me starting Jan 1 Delta has phased out yet another 200 in the daily scheduling, up-gauging to a 700.

  7. Why did I have to read this article today? I’m flying on 4 segments of crj’s next week, two of which only have 13 rows of seats on it so it’s little bitty. Did I say that I HATE to fly also. Not only that, I am flying with my 2 million miler husband who has experienced everything you can experience on an airplane from being the last flight in during a hurricane and a fire that made for an emergency landing. I don’t want to be on the plane with him when he has a crash experience and this post doesn’t give me a lot of confidence. Love your blog, Rene, but bad timing on this one!

  8. Chris, try to get the exit row aisles — i’m sure you know they have more leg room. if you gate check a bag, no hurry off the plane anyhow!

  9. SeatGuru claims the exit rows on CRJ100/200s don’t have extra legroom. Is that not correct, or does it vary by partner?

  10. I fly from MSN and hate the small CRJ planes. The interiors are in sad shape. This makes me wonder about the rest of the plane.
    I didn’t know you were from South Bend. I’m driving there next week for business. Can you recommend any good restaurants. Thanks

  11. @TJK I haven’t put a tape on em either but they don’t look like more room to me. On the other hand, René has a lot more experience than I do so perhaps he as a point.

  12. @TJK: I actually don’t take an exit row seat on CRJ 200s. I compared it to regular economy (using my arm — admittedly not a tape measure) and found no difference in pitch. Plus, on at least some of the planes, the exit row seats have even LESS padding than the regular seats.

    I have looked and I have the impression the CRJ 700 & 900s are the same, but I haven’t tested in those cases; so far, I’ve always been in Economy Comfort or First Class.

    From a safety point of view, the training and experience of the pilots are probably the most important factors. I suspect mainline is better in this regard.

  13. Thank you for your blog post. I was the one who posted on Flyertalk about my experience. After my experience on Wednesday, I do have concerns about how well-maintained Delta’s regional jets are. In addition, the email and 10,000 points were an example of how not to do customer service as I was more angry after receiving the email than I was at the conclusion of the debacle. The email made no mention at all of the emergency situation we experienced, and was the usual cut and paste apology for the “inconvenience.”

  14. @Sharlet – Thank you so much for coming to the blog to comment. Would love for Lisa & I to take you to dinner one night in SBN area and chat. Will email you! Best – Rene

  15. My commute every 2 weeks for 6 years was on 200’s and, yes, their cabins are uncomfortable and worn out, but they seem to be well maintained with regard to mechanics. I never had a single issue or emergency. Now, for the past year, we’ve finally converted to 700’s and 900’s. I’m always in FC and am loving my commute. I assume that the same high standards of mechanical excellence will remain.

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