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I pulled my wife’s plane
Sort of. Plus: Why the Embraer E175 is great for passengers.
Well it wasn’t “her” plane in the sense that she owned it or was even in it. It was the one she flies for work.
There was a charity fundraiser at the Santa Barbara airport today in which teams of 10 people pulled an Alaska Embraer 175 jet with a rope for 20 feet. The fastest team won.
Alaska — or, specifically, Horizon, its wholly owned regional subsidiary — flew the aircraft specially from Seattle to Santa Barbara for the event. (Currently, scheduled service between Seattle and Santa Barbara is on its mainline B737.)
Over 20 teams showed up to take part. The pilots remained in the flight deck to apply brakes when the marshal signaled each team had pulled its distance.
The team I was on — organized by a local flight school, Above All Aviation — did it in 10.2 seconds. We didn’t win. But we actually placed pretty well. We tied with a team of firefighters and beat the one fielded by the Santa Barbara Police Department. The team that won was the airport’s own!
The Embraer 175 — or E175 — has a basic operating weight of just under 50,000 pounds. I assume that means no passengers and little fuel. It turns out that 10 people can make that move — around 5,000 pounds per person. Good to know if ever an absolute need arises.
As a passenger, I love the E175. There was a time when regional jets delivered a subpar experience. (Think Jetstreams if you go back that far.) And some still do.
But, personally, I’d generally rather fly on an E175 than an A321 or B737 in terms of passenger comfort. The E175 overcomes traditional drawbacks of regional jets.
Alaska has a fleet of 75 E175s, with more on the way, some proudly operated by Horizon and others by Skywest — but all flying under Alaska livery. It operates its fleet with a three-class configuration — First, Premium Economy, and Economy, with a total passenger load of 76 and crew of four. Whichever cabin you are in, the aircraft more than holds its own against most larger narrow-body jets. The overhead bins can take pretty well anything you might reasonably expect to carry as cabin luggage. Even when it can’t, you’re more likely to be able to check the bag when boarding and pick it up on the jetway.
Most of the aircraft are pretty new. And, crucially, there are no middle seats on the E175. The Economy and Premium Economy cabins are 2-2. And First is 1-2. I think the “A” one-abreast seats on the left in First provide some of the best domestic flying experiences of any distance. On a northbound flight up the coast from California to the Pacific Northwest, it is quite serene to watch the sunset from your comfortable row of one. (Especially while enjoying one of Alaska’s Signature Fruit & Cheese Platters.)
Some of Alaska’s E175 flights operate fairly long routes. For example, as far as Seattle to Dallas. Others do pretty short ones, especially since the airline retired all of its Q400 turboprops.
But all provide an uncompromised passenger experience for the distance. Alaska is, of course, not the only E175 operator in the US. American, Delta, and United also use the aircraft either through their own regional subsidiaries or partners. ✈️
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