Streaming in-flight entertainment is coming to United’s smallest regional jet, a move that will be warmly welcomed by short-haul flyers.
Sarah Murphy, United Airlines’ Senior Vice President of United Express, shared the news:
“We have made the long-term commitment to the Embraer ERJ-145 and designed the comprehensive cabin, seat, and entertainment upgrade to deliver a contemporary customer experience. We’re confident that our partners at ExpressJet can execute that vision.”
As PaxEx.Aero notes, this news actually first came out last October but was quickly retracted as a premature announcement.
Open Questions About United’s New ERJ-145 IFE
There are still questions surrounding the new IFE upgrade.
- Will there be in-seat power or at least USB ports?
- Will there be wi-fi internet or just an intranet that will host the IFE?
Ideally, United will make the investment, but since these aircraft tend to show up on flights under 2.5 hours, it becomes less of an issue if the answer is no.
But More Regional Jets…
If you thought these old workhouses were on their way out, think again. United is contracting with ExpressJet to add 36 additional ERJ-145 aircraft over the next year. That will bring the total to nearly 130 jets.
Subodh Karnik, Chairman and CEO of ExpressJet Airlines, is understandably thrilled:
“United’s trust in ExpressJet is a testament to the dedication and adaptability of ExpressJet’s employees. Growing our fleet and upgrading the ERJ145s embodies our vision: ‘To be the United Express carrier that best understands and fulfills the needs of United Airlines.’”
ExpressJet’s gain is Trans States’ loss. The feeder carrier, which also flies ERJ-145s for United, will not see its contract renewed. Since United is its only client right now, that spells trouble for its pilots and flight attendants. Why the elimination? United’s pilot scope clause, which doesn’t allow unlimited regional jets.
United will also maintain its large CRJ-200 fleet, concentrated in the west with SkyWest. Plus, it is adding 20 additional CRJ-550s at GoJet. No word yet on whether the CRJ-200 fleet will also receive streaming in-flight entertainment.
The end goal is a seamless, operationally-reliable organization. Murphy added:
“We are working hard to achieve our goal of making United Express the best express operation in the industry.”
And that should be the main goal. But may I suggest mood lighting as well? It continues to amaze me how mood lighting can make even the oldest aircraft feel modern. Why does a “modern” feel matter? Because passengers report a better overall experience with simple touches like cool lighting effects. That creates loyalty. Think how “modern” Delta makes its older fleet look thanks to clean cabins and nice lighting. But the streaming IFE will certainly help as well.