Flight Assessment: Flying First Class…On a United Q400

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United Bombardier Sprint 8 Q400 at Durango – Picture: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

As a Silver Premier member with United Airways (their lowest-level elite tier), getting a complementary top quality improve occurs nearly as not often as recognizing a unicorn.  In a yr and a half of being an elite, I’ve gotten two top quality upgrades.  Just lately, improve quantity two got here in an unlikely kind; on a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

That’s proper, people – United is providing a firstclass cabin on planes with propellers.  I caught my improve on a fast enterprise journey from Denver (DEN) to Durango (DRO), Colorado.

All of United’s Q400s are literally operated by Republic Airways, considered one of many regional carriers for UA.  They’re configured with 71 seats; seven in top quality, 10 in Financial system Plus, and 54 in financial system.  As to be anticipated on a regional aircraft, “top quality” actually solely meant a wider seat, extra legroom, and a free beer.  Effectively, we acquired some pretzels too.  


After my expertise, I can let you know that the issue with providing a firstclass product on such a small regional plane is that the airport/floor expertise simply isn’t as much as snuff.  As I stated above, actually what you’re getting is a bit of higher onerous product, however the comfortable product (meals, drink, expertise) simply can’t greater than marginally higher.

In Denver, the regional gates on the far finish of the terminal are a zoo.  There aren’t sufficient seats, or employees for that matter, and so they usually are boarding 4 flights at one time, although a single door.  On the similar time, arriving passengers are popping out by means of that very same door.  It’s a cluster.

Comfortable first class seatings on the United Q400 - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Snug top quality seating on the United Q400 – Picture: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

So, whereas I can’t say a lot for the service/expertise, I do should say that the Q400 was a really comfy fowl.  The cabin width is significantly better than an Embraer ERJ-145, and it feels roomier than a CRJ-200.

Whereas SeatGuru says that the primary class seats are the identical width as financial system, their information are usually not correct; the seats have been noticeably wider, and configured in a 1-2 row versus financial system, which was 2-2.  I observed no discernible distinction in noise or vibration from the turboprops, versus different small regional jets I’ve flown.

Nothing says "first class" like an inoperable sink in the lav - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Nothing says “top quality” like an inoperable sink within the lav; at the least the supplied hand wipes                                                                Picture: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Finally, for such a brief flight (solely barely over an hour), the place I sat didn’t actually matter.  I used to be in an Financial system Plus seat on the best way house, and located it loads comfy for the fast hop.  Sadly, I needed to pay for my beer.

I’m unsure of the economics of United providing a firstclass product on these kind of planes.  Of their all-economy configuration, these planes maintain 74 passengers.  Three folks doesn’t sound like so much, however it’s a 4.2% capability improve.  For what it’s price, on each legs, there have been zero passengers booked in to first; they have been all upgrades like me.

Beautiful Q400 propeller - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Lovely Q400 propeller – Picture: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Most likely the most effective a part of my flight was my seat mate in 2D.  He was a commuting United Airways 777 pilot, heading again house to Durango after a visit to and from Sydney, Australia.  We talked in regards to the persevering with work on the United/Continental merger integration, and he talked about how a lot happier financial system passengers are on that route, now that United swapped out the 747-400 (with no private in-flight leisure in financial system) with the 777-200ER.

Speak about a protracted day, although; he began by flying a jumbo jet throughout the Pacific, and ended on a prop aircraft bumping over the Rocky Mountains.

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