United Airlines unveils first 15 destinations for new two-class CRJ550
United Airlines will begin flying its the Bombardier CRJ550, a 50-seat regional jet with a first class cabin, to 15 cities from Chicago at the end of October.
The aircraft, which is a re-certified version of the Bombardier CRJ700 airframe, will first fly to Harrisburg (MDT) in Pennsylvania from Chicago O'Hare (ORD) on Oct. 27, the Star Alliance carrier said Thursday evening. United will also begin flying it to 14 more cities from its Chicago hub:
- Allentown (ABE)
- Cedar Rapids (CID)
- Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG)
- Columbus (CMH)
- Des Moines (DSM)
- Grand Rapids (GRR)
- Greensboro (GSO)
- Indianapolis (IND)
- Madison (MSN)
- Northwest Arkansas (XNA)
- Oklahoma City (OKC)
- Richmond (RIC)
- St. Louis (STL)
- Tulsa (TUL)
Tickets for CRJ550 flights will go on sale Saturday, Oct. 12, said United.
The CRJ550 will feature 10 first class seats, 20 Economy Plus extra-legroom seats, and 20 economy seats. In addition, it will sport several closets so passengers do not have to gate check carry-on bags, and a snack bar.
Following the jet's debut in Chicago, United plans to begin flying it from its Newark Liberty (EWR) and -- in a new addition bound to excite Washington DC-based travelers -- Washington Dulles (IAD) hubs by early next year.
The Star Alliance carrier is expanding its Dulles hub with new domestic spokes. It will add Akron/Canton (CAK), Philadelphia (PHL) and West Palm Beach (PBI) to its roster of destinations from the airport next year.
United hopes the CRJ550 will help it capture a larger share of premium international travelers bound for small and mid-size cities in the U.S. Executives have frequently cited the example of Northwest Arkansas, home to retail giant Walmart's headquarters, where they said the airline carries a lower percentage of business travelers than competitors due to a lack of premium seating options on flights into XNA.
Executives at United have also said that they have to fly all-economy jets to small markets because of limits in the carrier's pilots contract. That contract caps the number of large regional jets, ones that typically have a first class cabin and seat up to 76 passengers, at 255 aircraft, while both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines can fly more than 300 of these aircraft.
United aims to have all 54 CRJ550s in service by next June.