Would You Ride the Last Delta CRJ-200 Flight?

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A Delta Connection CRJ-200 regional jet.

Delta continues to plague itself (and passengers) with one phrase: “CRJ-200.”

Notice I worded today’s headline as “Would You Ride…” instead of “Will You Ride…” Because it feels as though Delta will never get rid of Satan’s Chariot. (Which really exemplified its nickname when a CRJ-200 “assaulted” a priest!)

In 2012, ch-aviation reported that SkyWest (a Delta Connection contractor) and Delta “reached an agreement to amend their existing Delta Connection contract allowing Delta to retire its 66 CRJ-100s and CRJ-200s currently operated on its behalf by Skywest either in Delta Connection or Skywest colours. The CRJ-200s will be retired as of (May 2012) with the last of the 66 CRJ-200s to be retired by December 2015.”

Nearly four years later, SkyWest CRJ-200s are still operating Delta Connection flights. (Like this one. And this one. And this one. And another.)

Many #AvGeeks enjoy riding an aircraft model’s final flight with a specific airline. Some even get married during the ride. It’s a bittersweet moment bidding farewell to a plane that hosts so many memories for so many people.

But I personally can’t think of a good memory from a CRJ-200. Can you? If and when Delta finally says “enough!” and retires these birds, would you want to be on the future beer can’s retirement flight?

Why All the CRJ-200 Hate?

For leisure travelers or those who don’t fly often, the Bombardier’s CRJ-200 is the bane of passenger travel.

The seats are tiny.

Leg room on a Delta Connection CRJ-200 regional jet.

Hardly anything bigger than a backpack will fit in the overhead bins cubbies. That means checking your rollaboard as you enplane — and then waiting in a hot or cold jet bridge for it after your flight.

Hot or Cold – your pick!

As René noted, their fuel efficiency is practically nil. And they’re used for so many operations (takeoffs and landings) because they fly so many short routes each day. That wears down on a plane.

Simply put: these 50-seaters are well past any prime they enjoyed.

What About the Bigger CRJ Models?

Don’t get me wrong: I like most Bombardier jets. Let’s not forget the brand-spankin’ new A220 was originally designed by Bombardier; Airbus got involved only when Boeing pitched a hissy fit. (And look how well Boeing’s done since…) The CRJ-700 and CRJ-900 aircraft are comfortable — and include first class seating and real C+ product, as opposed to the CRJ-200. While you’re not exactly flying an A350, the -700 and -900 are far better than their little sibling.

When I worked on The Captains, we rode a beautiful Global Express jet from Van Nuys to Toronto to Luton to Teterboro.

Bombardier makes great airplanes. It’s just, y’know, the CRJ-200 that’s kind of a problem.

Any Logical Reasons Why Delta Must Keep Some CRJ-200s?

To be honest, Delta needs to operate some CRJ-200s for the foreseeable future. Some smaller markets simply might not provide enough business for Delta to use the 69-seat CRJ-700 or Embraer ERJ-170? If Delta thought they could make more money with slightly larger planes, don’t you think they’d have either of the larger birds operating those routes?

Perhaps airport limitations may factor in Delta’s reasoning. Some commercial airports are just plain (no pun intended) small. Runway size and other factors may come into play. But all of the destinations in my examples above have mainline service with at least one airline — and their respective 737s and A320s sure don’t have any problems.

How Would Delta Mark the Occasion?

What would be the final flight? SLC to St. George (SkyWest’s headquarters)?

Maybe Delta would do us a favor and make it SBN to DTW 😉

Seat next to a toilet onboard a Delta Connection CRJ-200 regional jet.

Whatever it is, one thing’s for sure: it’ll be too short to meet Delta’s 250-mile threshold for cabin service!

Like I mentioned in Friday’s post about the Fourth of July themed Delta flight 1776, the mothership throws a great theme party. Whether it’s inaugural flights or Sky Club openings, Delta is great at creating fun celebrations.

What do you think Delta might do when/if they ever retire the CRJ-200?

Maybe Delta would give passengers these Barbie Careers 60th Anniversary Pilot Dolls and Barbie Dreamplane Playset (a nod to the CRJ-200’s “Barbie Jet” moniker)?

I wonder if the plane will receive a water cannon salute?

Meeting about arrival of the first flight with water salute in airport. Airport tradition (Photo: ©iStock.com/Nimdamer)

(Photo: ©iStock.com/Nimdamer)

But the darn things are so tiny that a couple of garden hoses would probably do the job. 😉

Share your ideas with us!

So Would You Make a Special Trip to Ride the Delta’s Last CRJ-200 Flight?

Rene went out of his way (and pocket) to ride the first passenger flights for Delta’s 737-900ER and Airbus A350. Would spend time and money to buy a ticket on Delta’s final CRJ-200 flight? Depending on where the flight departs from and where it arrives, you’d have to spend money on at least one positioning leg. Would you take time off work or other commitments for the “special” occasion?

Tell us in the Comment section below!

–Chris

26 comments

  1. I would pay for a ticket in the last flight of the Barbie jet if you also got to bash the plane with a sledge hammer a couple of times after landing! The first time I made diamond, it was by segments and almost every one of those segments was in a CRJ200.

  2. I don’t even know how to respond … there should be a celebration, but with previous announcements reversed, I’m not sure I would trust the plane to be really gone. They keep reappearing from the desert. You mentioned 250 mile service policy. I live in a market over 300 miles to hub but we are still subject to water and coffee rule even in so called Comfort+. I have concluded that I will probably retire before the CRJ does. I do believe we need to continue to tell Delta how this plane is hurting their brand.

  3. Good riddance to this “Albatross of the airways”. Cringed every time I boarded one of these poorly designed vessels.

  4. No way. Rode one yesterday: BWI->RDU. Bad as ever. Even in C+ front row. Good riddance!

  5. @Jane – LOL I think I am seeing a trend in the comments.
    @Chris – Great post. I think you struck a nerve on this one buddy!

  6. Hell No! But I would meet it at the gate.

    With a sledgehammer…..

  7. NOOO thanks.. on some routes u cannot gate check and get ur carry-on bag on landing via gate way..You really have to check it and go pickit up at baggage claim!!!

  8. Before we bash (literally for some of us folks 🙂 ) the CRJ-200, lets look back to the time when the Delta Connection carriers flew the EMB-120 and ATR 72 prop planes. Those were some scary rides! When the CRJs came online, they started by placing them in routes flown by the old prop planes and it was a nice and significant upgrade. The issue came when DL (and others) realized that these had the speed and range, if not passenger room, of the larger mainline planes and decided to put them on longer routes. The cramped interiors that were OK for 45 minute flights were miserable for 2 hour (or more) flights.

  9. I may just have to. I’m a connection flier so at least half of flights have been flying the CRJ-200. I won’t miss them though!

  10. I would not pay to ride the last flight of a Delta CRJ-200, unless it was from my home airport (LEX) on a worthy mileage run. Instead, I shall celebrate its retirement/demise on Rene’s Points with a proper sendoff/good riddance!

    Although the equipment type had nothing to do with this tragedy (that I know of, and I did read the entire NTSB Report), it was a Comair CRJ-200 Flight 5191 which crashed on takeoff in August 2006 at LEX that killed all on board except the First Officer, who was seriously injured, severely brain damaged, and permanently disabled. Lexington is a small-ish community, and everyone (including me) knows someone who in turn knows someone who perished on that CRJ-200.

    Then again, the advent of the regional jet replacing the turbo-prop EMB-120s and ATR-72s, as noted in a comment above, did negate the need to extend significantly the runway length at LEX, which was needed at the time, generally opposed in the community, and very controversial, because the new regional jets did not need as much takeoff runway.

    And I do find the CRJ-200 tolerable in a very limited circumstance as my wife and I have flown on them CVG to ORD in Basic Economy (gasp!) where the flight is so short there is no cabin service, and there is no First Class/Comfort+ to upgrade to, so as a lowly Silver Medallion, I am not passing up an upgrade chance by flying Basic Economy on a CRJ-200.

    Thanks Rene for all you do on this informative blog, and thanks to anyone who has taken the time to read this lengthy post. Hope it was helpful.

  11. Based on my many horrible experiences on CRJ-200 flights between ATL and MOB, the question I would pose is whether it would truly be the last flight if on that route.
    There have been several instances where the flight flies to Mobile, circles and returns to Atlanta for various reasons and after landing in Atlanta will then try again

  12. Just for the record:As a >6-footer, I’m pretty sure that the Barbie Dreamplane has more legroom than a CRJ-200.

  13. Lots of my flights are on CRJ-200s. I don’t like it, but that’s the only thing which serves my semi-local airport. But they’re better than the prop planes and for a short flight I can deal with it. And the tray tables actually leave some room in front of my stomach, unlike some of the ones in first on larger planes. My carry on roller bag fits under the seat too — I specifically bought a small one.

    To me, there are worse things in life. While I look forward to their demise, without the 200’s I might have no service at all.

    Yes, I would like to be on the last flight. I may never see that day, but there definitely are memories there, both good and bad.

  14. The biggest joke on the CRJ200 is the first row that they call C+. You won’t find me in row 1. However, the 200s get me to my hub flights so I can get on real planes to everywhere. I wont miss them if they ever go away. I would probably fly the farewell flight from my local airport, but not worry about last flight in the system.

  15. Flew one on Monday MSP-FAR. They should pay anyone who has to fly this model anytime … not just the last one. For the last flight, Delta should board an Exorcist and a Funeral Director for symbolic removal of evil spirits and its burial.

    During the infamous December 1997 Atlanta power failure, we were among the last planes to land in ATL. They held us on the tarmac and would not let us de-plane for SIX HOURS! Only after they cleared all of the affected terminals (everything except the International Terminal) did the permit us to get off.

  16. In short yes I will gladly pay to be on the final flight. I have family in Bemidji, MN, and being able to fly there on a Skywest CRJ-200 is an invaluable connection. The service is a lifeline to attract university employees and federal workers to the area, as well as for veterans and members of the nearby tribal reservations to access healthcare in the Twin Cities. As Keegan said I don’t think many people realize how much reliability has improved from the days of Saab 340s and Jetstream turboprops flying to MSP.

    When the CRJ-200 goes away Bemidji’s Essential Air Service will likely be passed over to 9 seat Cessnas, where pilot training requirements are 250 hours rather than 1,500. Bemidji simply doesn’t have the passenger numbers for 69 seat CRJ-700s to be viable. Thief River Falls and Ironwood, MI were not even able to to make the switch to 50 seaters, and their air service is operated by Air Choice One and Boutique Airways Cessnas and is less reliable than ours, especially during the snowy winters.

    Other small towns across the country will see air service degrade when the CRJ-200s are retired. People will have to drive many hours overnight and early in the morning, often on snowy roads, to get to MSP and other larger airports. Traffic deaths will go up, and small town America will suffer.

  17. @Sam – You are assuming Delta will not simply reduce the number of flights to such cities and use a CRJ-700 that is a much better jet. For me from SBN that is 100% CRJ-200s (other than Notre Dame game weekends) I will be happy with less flights but all larger jets.

  18. @Rene – currently the service standard the DOT requires for Essential Air Service is two flights per day (one on Saturdays). I would prefer one flight per day on a CRJ-700 rather than two flights on a Cessna, but that option is currently not allowed. When the CRJ-200 is retired, the DOT, the Regional Airlines Association, and local communities will have to work something out in order to permit once daily flights.

    As an aside, I think the Essential Air Service program would make for an interesting post. The two flights per day requirement was created forty years ago as part of deregulation to ensure a minimal level of service to communities where flights would not otherwise be profitable. The 1,500 hour training pilot requirement and switch to 50 seat jets have caused the cost of this program to balloon over the last decade. In order to contain costs, some cities are now being served by 9 seat Cessnas by carriers such as Air Choice One and Boutique Air. 9 seat planes are only required to follow the older 250 hour pilot training requirement.

  19. @Rene overall good information but I fly all 3 CRJ variants for a living and I can tell you that since the 200s are all paid off, they are way more profitable on these EAS routes that Sam is talking about. Plus we serve a lot of small communities with very short runways on the 200 that a jump to a 700 and increasing the landing distance, even slightly would be problematic. Even as a pilot I would rather fly the -700 or -900 any day, but these 200 definitely meet an essential operation currently with these EAS markets. If you think Delta is bad, United operates them on 3 hour flights. That is not where these bad boys belong that’s for sure.

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