This weekend I took a trip up to Vermont to visit friends. I got a decent fare from Newark to Burlington so rather than drive I booked the flight up. Until recently all of the flights on United Express from Newark to Burlington were operated on ERJ-145’s but as a cost saving measure United is beginning to switch from the ERJ’s to Bombardier Q400’s which have the benefit of a first class section but have the negative of being an old fashion turboprop (propeller plane) versus the jets on the Embraer ERJ-145’s.
When booking I noticed that just 1 flight to Burlington per day was on the Q400 and because of the possibility of a first class upgrade on the Q400’s I decided to book them even though the times were not idea. Since I flew just over 100,000 miles on Star Alliance and reached 1K status on United I figured there was a high probability of an upgrade. Well, in both directions I was not disappointed and scored an upgrade! The flight up to Burlington was the 1st ever Q400 flight on United Express to Burlington. When we arrived someone from Republic Airlines was there to greet us. Unfortunately in the 0 degree F weather they were not able to lower the jetway to meet the plane and therefore we had to walk into the building, but let’s not blame that on the plane but instead inexperience. Well, let’s get into the review of the Q400.
Since I was upfront in first class for both flights I have a better feel for that cabin. First class has three rows. On the right, if facing the back of the plane, there three rows of single seats. On the left side there are two rows of 2 seats (there is no row 1 on that side even if the seat map shows it). If you are looking for leg room then your best bet is row 2 C or D because it’s an emergency exit row. If you want privacy choose 2A or 3A. I would not recommend 1A because when the door is open it can be quite cold or hot. The first class seats are obviously wider than in economy and there are small drink holders on the arm rest. The tray table folds out from the arm rest though on most short flights there is no food. In first class there are larger overhead bins on the left side of the cabin and small ones on the right side. Roll-aboards will not fit in the bits on either side. The seats were comfortable and there was plenty of leg room upfront.
If you are back in economy, you will find economy + in the 1st three rows. If you are looking for bonus legroom row 4 has more legroom than any other row on the plane (even more than first class) and there is under seat storage because there is not a solid bulkhead. The economy section has larger overhead bins on both sides though roll aboards do not fit in economy either. The only other comment I would make about economy is that if you are looking for a quieter seat head toward the back of the plane away from the propellers.
There are a total of 71 seats in the 2 cabin version of the Q400.
Republic Airlines had some of the friendlies crew that I have experienced in the US in recent years. On the flight up to Burlington they served a drink for everyone in the cabin. In first we also got a small bag of snack mix (woopty doo). On the return flight the flight attendants said the flight would be too short to serve anything so only the seven of us in the front got a drink and snack.
One disadvantage of the Q400 is the propeller noise. The Q in the name stands for quiet but when compared to an ERJ-145 the Q400 is noisy and there is quite a bit of vibration. The quietest seats are at the back of the plane if you feel like waiting to get off (though if you have gate checked baggage you’ll have to wait anyway).
There is one tiny bathroom at the front of the plane and the galley is at the back.
The Q400 is fine for a short flight no longer than 2 hours. The plane makes lots of noise so anything longer than 2 hours will probably produce a headache or at least a lasting buzz in your head. The first class seats are nice and spacious and the flight attendants on Republic Air made the flight enjoyable. Overall, if I have the choice I would still choose the ERJ in economy but with the possibility of an upgrade (Mileage Plus Platinum or 1K) then consider the Q400 for the better seats up front.