American Eagle ERJ-175 first class will do in a pinch (it’s not great)

American Eagle ERJ-175 first class will do in a pinch (it’s not great)

Alright ladies and gentlemen, playtime is over and it’s time to get back to reality. All the posts about those fancy international business class cabins on interesting aircraft for this trip report are now complete, and it’s time to hop on an American E175 (in first class) for a quick flight down to San Diego.

American Airlines actually used to serve San Diego from Los Angeles with DC-10s (waaaay back in the day), but the only option tonight was a rinky-dink E175 that sounded more like a vacuum cleaner than an actual airliner.

I’m not complaining though – air travel is a lot better now than it was 30 years ago, so let’s stay positive and get this over with.

Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Monday, October 23, 2017
Aircraft: ERJ-175
Registration: N217NN
Duration: 31 minutes
Seat: 4A (first class)

american eagle ERJ-175 side view
American Eagle ERJ-175 (N217NN) side view illustration by
LAX to SAN route map
Our route from LAX to SAN this evening: LAXX1 MZB
Curbside LAX terminal five American Airlines
Terminal five here at LAX – Gateway to the world (and little ‘ol San Diego).
American Airlines terminal LAX main lobby
One more security checkpoint to go through on this trip and I’m home free.
American Airlines terminal five LAX
Thankfully I made it through security without having someone from the TSA rummage through my dirty underwear again. Now all I do need to do is find my flight!

The American Airlines terminal here at LAX is actually quite nice, but unfortunately regional flights like mine down to San Diego do not depart from here. There’s a designated commuter terminal for that, and if I’m being quite honest, it feels more like a bus station than it does an actual airport terminal. The only good thing about it is that it requires a bus to get to, which offers incredible views the action here at LAX during the entire drive. Let’s check it out!

American Airlines terminal LAX
This is the holding area for passengers like me needing to catch the bus over to the commuter terminal. I call it the Gate of Shame.
Walking to American Airlines bus Los Angeles airport
There are no elevators down to the lower level to catch the bus, but thankfully there is staff on hand to help carry luggage for those needing a little assistance.
Spirit airlines a320 LAX
Holy banana, Batman! Up close and personal with this Spirit A320 right outside the exit doors.
American Airlines interterminal bus LAX
Looks like American Airlines isn’t brave enough to paint their buses bright yellow, and they went with the safe “typewriter gray” option instead.
American Airlines bus to commuter terminal LAX
Get your camera ready – there’s gonna be some really good plane spotting on the way down to the commuter terminal!
View from American Airlines bus to commuter terminal LAX
Or maybe not, thanks to the dreaded dot-pattern window tint. Every aviation photographers worst nightmare.
 American Airlines transfer bus LAX
San Diego is only two hours down the 405, and I would’ve been perfectly content staying on the bus if they would’ve taken me all the way down.

Unfortunately I still had nearly an hour of waiting time once I arrived at the commuter terminal, so I did my best to try and find a quiet spot against the back wall to sit and think about how great of a trip this had been. I love Hong Kong, and just being able to spend a few days there puts me in a good mood for quite a while after.

American Airlines flight information display LAX commuter terminal
Hold your horses, cowboy. We ain’t ready to go quite yet.

The energy of the place also rubs off on me a little bit every time I go, and as I was sitting there waiting for my flight to board I couldn’t help but feel inspired to finish writing that book that I started (and then quit) over three months ago. It’s a book about learning how to push back at the office to reclaim precious free time in order to travel more.

This is a topic I’m very passionate about since it’s something that I’ve been doing for many years now in my own career (including at that exact moment since this was a Monday afternoon and I should have been working), so I was feeling the drive to get that book done in order to help inspire other travelers who are stuck in a day job just like me.

Anyway, I was able to finish that book right before Christmas, and I just want to take this opportunity to give a HUGE thanks to everyone who has purchased it so far. I love hearing comments about how inspiring of a read it is, and it makes me feel good knowing that I’m making a difference in people’s lives.

Being in a good mood tends to make time go by in a flash, and before I knew it they had announced boarding for this flight to San Diego. It was interesting that there didn’t seem to be a mad rush of people running towards the gate as soon as they announced the flight, so I just casually took my time getting my things together and meandered over there in no big rush of my own.

Hoarding American Eagle flight to San Diego Los Angeles international airport
Boarding has commenced for the most uninteresting segment of this trip.
 American eagle jet bridge LAX
All of Southern California was experiencing one heck of a heat wave at the moment, and that heat hit me like opening the door to a blast furnace when I stepped outside and into the little jet bridge leading to the plane.
Boarding American Eagle flight LAX
Regional jets look small even at ground level like this. You can’t fool me…this isn’t a real airplane!
American eagle ERJ 175 LAX
My favorite kind of light for photography!
ERJ 175 forward boarding door
One step forward, wait 10 seconds. Another step forward, wait 10 seconds. Another…yeah, I think you get the idea.

The sun was setting beautifully as I walked out to the airplane and stepped onboard, and within 30 seconds of sitting down I was offered a glass of water (or anything else I might have wanted) to drink by the flight attendant. One of these days I’ll be really famous and every flight attendant on every flight will know me and have a glass of water ready and waiting by the time I arrive. Someday…

American eagle ERJ 175 first class seat
American Airlines ERJ-175 first class seat.
American eagle ERJ 175 first class seat pitch
The seats are quite nice, but the legroom isn’t much to rave about. Honestly, it’s not all that better than the legroom you’ll get in ANY seat on the American Eagle E145. That’s a massive insult by the way.
American eagle ERJ 175 leg room first class
There is enough room under the seat in front to fit my backpack (stuffed full of dirty underwear) all the way under.
American eagle ERJ 175 first class cabin
See? I’m not the only one who doesn’t get excited about flying on a regional jet.
American Airlines first class ERJ 175 wing view
My view from seat 4A. Not too shabby!

By the time they closed the forward boarding door, the two seats across the aisle from me were still empty. Luckily for the passengers in the first row of economy, the flight attendant was in a giving mood this evening and invited them to come up to take those seats in first class. I thought that was really cool, as those two passengers were extremely thrilled about it and it definitely made their day. Cheers to the flight attendant for doing a good deed.

American eagle ERJ 175 first-class cabin wide angle
The only really cool thing about small regional jets such as this is the ability to yell up to the pilots “I’m ready to go now!” without even leaving your seat.

The sun had dropped just below the horizon just as we were pushing off the gate, which squashed my hopes and dreams of getting some spectacular sunset shots on departure out of LAX this evening. No worries though – the hardcore photography nerd in me always comes prepared, and I had my Sony point and shoot camera with me that does really well in low light.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get creative with low-light departure shots, so I had fun trying a lot of different settings on our way out to runway 25R.

United Airlines 757–200 LAX
Pushing off the gate now, with a nice view of an aircraft that will be part of my next trip report series.
American eagle ERJ 175 wing
Photography conditions were more than difficult from here on out, so please don’t hate me too much for slightly blurry pics of the action.
Taxiing out to the runway LAX
Making our way out to runway 25R, cursing at every little bump which caused my pics to turn out blurry.
Slow shutter speed take off picture
It’s kind of hard to tell what’s going on in this pic, but I’m guessing we are barreling down the runway at this point.
Taking off out of LAX at night
A very Vincent van Gogh view of the lights of El Segundo.
Taking off over the ocean LAX
Those boats are in a prime spot for viewing all of the departures out of LAX tonight!

The flight down to San Diego from Los Angeles is hardly even worth talking about, as we only climb up to about 11,000 feet, level off for a few minutes, and then begin the descent down into San Diego. I’m not a pilot, and I don’t pretend to be one, but I’ve done this route so many times that I think I could fly it myself and hit all the waypoints without even looking at a map.

It’s pretty simple actually: make a 90° left turn after departing LAX, go straight until you reach the Oceanside pier, make a slight course adjustment to the right before turning inland over Del Mar and La Jolla (right over top of my house), head straight out to Santee, and then make a big 180° right hand turn back towards SAN. Easy peasy.

Approaching San Diego airport from Los Angeles
A terrible picture, but I have to include it because we have just passed over top of my house at this point. We are in San Diego proper now, headed towards Santee before making the turn back to SAN.
Night time San Diego airport approach
Skirting past downtown San Diego just moments before hitting runway 27.
Landing at San Diego international Airport at night
Landing. Or blasting off into space. It’s hard to tell exactly…
American Airlines gate San Diego international airport
Thanks for putting up with my blurry in-flight pics. I promise the rest will be razor sharp from here on out.

It was completely dark once we arrived in San Diego, and I was walking off the plane with a huge smile on my face feeling happy for having had such a great trip. It wasn’t perfect, but then again no trip ever is, and that’s what always makes it so much fun.

Arrival San Diego international airport jet bridge
Come to think of it, a low shutter speed version of this picture (making it look like I’m walking at 200 mph) would be a lot more interesting, don’t you think?
American eagle ERJ-175 San Diego airport at night
Even regional jets can look good in the right lighting conditions! I love taking pics from this gate, but unfortunately they never park anything interesting here.
Terminal two east San Diego international airport
Looking all the way down terminal two east. To be honest, I wasn’t quite ready for this trip to be over, but at the same time it felt so good to be home.
San Diego international airport Uber pick up
I hope my Uber driver is cool…

Comments (6)

  1. Dean

    January 17, 2018
    • SANspotter

      January 17, 2018
  2. Albert

    February 4, 2019
    • SANspotter

      February 4, 2019
  3. Carter

    May 12, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      May 12, 2023

Give a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.