Most people don’t know the difference between commercial aircraft. But when you fly frequently you will begin to notice subtle aircraft differences and eventually that observation and knowledge becomes second nature. Before long you can tell from the ground what type of aircraft is up above making a descent or what model you’re boarding for a flight. And after a while you have your preferences.
This is especially true when you work the aircraft, whether you’re actually in control of the plane as captain or first officer or working the cabin as a flight attendant. For example, when I worked as a flight attendant on the Boeing 737 I adored the new (at the time) 700 series. There were air flush lavatories, leather seats and everything was new and shiny. On the other hand, I dreaded the 200 series. The lavs had blue juice, the engines were too loud and when passengers sat down the fabric cushions produced a fog-like cloud of peanut dust.
When I first started at what is considered a regional or connection carrier I wasn’t sure what I would think of the Embraer aircraft. I had lived by the philosophy, if it’s ain’t Boeing I ain’t going.
The Embraer 170 and 175 were much smaller than what I was used to, but it ends up these little guys are great aircraft. And as for the coined term “regional”, that’s pretty much false. I ended up flying way outside of the regional realm. Based out of Minneapolis, I traveled down to Florida, New Orleans and Houston and up to Saskatoon and Vancouver, Canada.
From day one I noticed passengers saying, Wow! This is a much bigger regional aircraft than I expected. Most passengers can stand up straight and there isn’t a need for gate checking luggage since the overhead bins fit average sized carry-ons. The seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of under the seat space for bags since there’s no dividing bar. The seat headrests bend and move up and down to accommodate all heights. Best of all, there is no middle seat which guarantees everyone is comfortable.
Passenger comfort aside, it’s also an ideal aircraft to work on as a flight attendant for a number of reasons. The engines aren’t terribly loud, the galleys are easy to work in, and because there are only two flight attendants needed on the aircraft there are two extra jumpseats on the 175 and one on the 170 in case one breaks or a co-worker needs to get home to work. There are also a number of other features that make life easier, too…
1. Flight Attendants control the temperature. At my former airlines temperature conversation went like this.
Me: Hi, Captain. Could you cool it off? It’s very cold in the back of the plane.
Me: Hi, it’s me again. Now it’s too hot.
Me: Hello…sorry to bother you again. It’s still really warm. People are feeling faint.
Captain: The other flight attendant just called and said it’s too cold in the front of the plane.
On the Embraer both flight attendants have temperature control: one for the front, one for the back.
2. The door arming lever is an easy up/down handle. Not every airplane door is alike but I can’t tell you how much I loved not having to bend over and fasten a grimy, sticky girt bar to the floor latches when arming the door’s emergency slide. It’s also nice that the flight deck has an armed indicator so the pilots can tell us if the door didn’t arm or disarm properly.
3. Cabin viewing window. I’ve sat on many jumpseats that have a view of a blank bulkhead wall, but on these Embraers there are viewing windows so the flight attendant can see everything that’s going on in the cabin while sitting in the jumpseat. On the 175 the window can close – which is great for night flights when the people in the last row are sleeping. This photo is of the 170. It’s a tinted plexiglass window.