Um…the American Eagle ERJ 145 is only ok if you have no other options

Um…the American Eagle ERJ 145 is only ok if you have no other options

The fact that you voluntarily clicked on an American Eagle ERJ 145 economy review tells me that you have concerns. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good news for you. It’s every bit as bad as you think it is.

Flying on an AA Embraer 145 is a cramped and uncomfortable experience. These are small airplanes with equally small seats, and you will have a very uncomfortable flight. I’m sorry.

Basically, the only good thing about the ERJ 145 is that it’ll be leaving the American Eagle fleet relatively soon. I don’t even drink, but I’ve got an ice cold Corona waiting in my fridge the day that happens.

Flint, MI (FNT) – Chicago, IL (ORD)
Monday, October 17, 2022
Aircraft: Embraer 145 (ERJ 145)
Registration: N668HH
Duration: 43 minutes
Seat: 5A (main cabin)

American Eagle Embraer 145 side view
American Eagle Embraer ERJ 145 side view illustration by
AA3526 flight track
Our turbulence-ridden route from Flint to Chicago this afternoon as AA3526.

A full review of American Eagle ERJ 145 economy class from Flint to Chicago

Despite starting this review with a tone that only Negative Nancy could approve of, the truth is that I was really looking forward to this flight. Not only did I used to fly on these airplanes a lot back in the day, I was going to do it agin out of my true home airport.

I grew up just south of Flint, and FNT was the airport my family preferred over DTW due to it’s small size and easy access. Finally being able to begin an airline review from there was something special.

Flint bishop International Airport main terminal
The Flint Bishop International Airport might not look like much (and I have absolutely no idea how they earned the “international” title), but it is where this American Eagle E145 review is starting today.

Arrival at the Flint Bishop International Airport

I normally think quite fondly of the past, but for some reason or another I assumed that flying out of Flint would be a miserable experience. It turns out that they have maintained the terminal building quite well over the years, and it ended up being one of the nicest little airports that I’ve been to in a good long while. It was good to see it again.

Flint bishop International Airport departures area
This may not be the most extravagant airport terminal you’ve ever seen (it kind of looks like a low-rent strip mall), but I’m proud to be standing here representing it. 
SANspotter selfie FNT airport
Thinking how weird it would be if I never moved to San Diego and became “FNTspotter” instead. 
FNT airport baggage claim
The rental car counters are behind me, baggage claim is on the left, and the airline check in desks are straight ahead. It’s not very often that I can cover pretty much everything in one picture!
American Airlines check in Flint bishop airport
This is the American Airlines check in area (complete with AA employees no doubt coming up with a plan to deal with angry passengers once they realize the flight to Chicago today is going to be delayed AF).
American Airlines baggage drop FNT airport
Of course I didn’t even know about the delay yet. I was too busy patting myself on the back for arriving early and avoiding the crowds (lol).
FNT bishop airport escalator to level 2
After checking in, proceed up this escalator to the second level. Reminisce about 1992 if you feel the urge (and you most certainly will thanks to the retro 90’s decor in this place).
Flint bishop airport terminal interior
I’m so glad I got here early!
FNT airport departure gates
This is either an airport on the break of bankruptcy, or one that isn’t normally so busy at this particular hour. It’s hard to tell really.
SANspotter selfie flint bishop international airport
Starting to wonder if I’ve somehow wandered into a place I’m not supposed to be…
American eagle E145 Flint bishop airport
Fast forward a couple hours, and here is our plane to Chicago pulling up to the gate nearly an hour behind schedule. This is inconvenient!

The boarding process for flight number 3526 to Chicago

Finally! Due to the late arrival of the aircraft, I was 100% convinced that I wasn’t going to make my connection in Chicago. My only goal at that moment was to get content for this review, and I’d deal with figuring out how to get the rest of the way home to San Diego later. Sometimes, that’s all you can really do.

Gate 11 Flint bishop airport
The mood here at gate 11 felt like it was somewhere in between “American Airlines sucks ***” and “holy **** I’m never flying American Airlines ever again!” You could see it on the faces of nearly everyone.
American eagle FNT-ORD boarding pass
I refrained from making any threats I couldn’t follow through on. I am an airline reviewer after all, so chances are good I’ll cross paths with American Airlines again relatively soon whether I like it or not. Dang it!
FNT airport jet bridge
BTW, the gate agents did an epic job of getting the boarding process started ASAP. There were still passengers walking off the plane when they called for zone 1 to board.
Flint bishop airport jet bridge carpet
Speaking of epic, how about this carpet??
FNT airport American eagle jet bridge
At least they were kind enough to get the jet bridge as close(ish) to the aircraft as they could for us.
American eagle e145 boarding door
I’m probably going to miss my connection at ORD, so getting drenched (and perhaps losing a limb to hypothermia) wouldn’t have mattered all that much anyway. 
American Eagle E145 cabin
Welcome to the American Eagle E145! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to drag my bald head on the ceiling of an airplane (and I kinda liked it).
American Eagle E145 seat 5A
Seat 5A is mine all the way to Chicago.
American Eagle E145 seat leg room
Leg room is decent (even better than what you saw in my review of American Airlines A319 economy), but when it’s the only flight option you have, you kinda have to take what you get.
American Eagle E145 seat back and tray table
When’s the last time you saw a squared off airline seat? I mean, other than my JSX (JetSuiteX) review.
American Eagle E145 seat back pocket
I didn’t realize it until just now, but the way I check the contents of the seat back pocket is a lot like how I’ve seen cautious mothers checking the diaper of a smelly toddler. You never really know what you’re going to find in there…
American Eagle E145 seats
This pic does a better job of demonstrating how tight these seats really are. It’s cozy!
American Eagle E145 1-2 seating configuration
Despite it’s flaws, the 1-2 seating configuration makes the ERJ 145 a very good option for solo travelers.
American Eagle E145 safety card
You’re darn right I’m studying the safety card (mostly because I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that a fully loaded E145 would sink like a rock in the icy water of Lake Michigan).

The departure out of Flint

The snow had turned to rain by the time we pushed off the gate, so there was no need to stop by the deicing pad on the way out. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because I was convinced that I was going to miss my connection.

That said, it was raining hard by that point, which completely prevented any decent views of the surrounding area upon departure.

Rainy airplane window
Don’t worry, it’s not like there’s all that much to see out on the ramp here at FNT anyway.
American Eagle E145 taxiing to runway flint bishop airport
Not all airports can be as scenic as LAX or JFK, right?
American Eagle E145 takeoff from flint bishop airport
‘Later Flint!
View after takeoff from FNT
Whoa. I wasn’t expecting any noteworthy scenery during the departure process, but this’ll do. This’ll do nicely.

In-flight entertainment

Seriously? You’re really wondering what the in-flight entertainment options are on the American Eagle ERJ 145? Basically, you’re going to have to bring your own. Not only are there no video screens in these seats, there is no Wi-Fi either. RIP to those of you with a short attention span.

SANspotter selfie American Eagle E145
My chosen form of in-flight entertainment on this flight was trying to fend off a panic attack as we got tossed around in the rough air.
Embraer e145 window view
Why does turbulent air have to look so pretty? The image stabilization on my iPhone camera was getting a workout!
American Airlines e145 interior
I think I’m gonna puke.

The food

Despite the lack of in-flight entertainment, the flight attendant did come by offering a bag of snack mix and a drink. I found it interesting that only half of the passengers on board today took her up on that offer.

Maybe the rough air was giving everyone motion sickness? Or perhaps they were too concerned about missing their connection in Chicago? Who knows. All I’m going to say is that the flight attendant had it easy on this flight.

American Eagle economy class snack
Mini pretzels and a cup of water. I don’t think there’s anything else that would pair with a crusty old Embraer ERJ 145 as nicely as this does.
SANspotter eating snacks on an American eagle e145
I can’t recall if the concerned look on my face was because of the turbulence, or because I knew that the chances of making my connection in Chicago were slim to none. Probably a little bit of both actually.
American eagle snacks
Still, it wasn’t hard to appreciate having any snack at all on a short flight like this.

A few words about seat comfort

Actually, there’s absolutely no comfort to speak of. The seats of these American Eagle Embraer 145 regional jets are as stiff as they look, and they offer very little in terms of padding and support. This is not an airplane that you want to be on for more than one hour. If I’m being honest, even 45 minutes was pushing it.

American eagle e145 regional jet seats
A regional jet experience so bland and unremarkable that I can’t even think of a caption for these pics. That doesn’t happen often!
American eagle e145 seat back pocket contents
“Saggy old bag between my legs” would be an inappropriate thing to say, wouldn’t it?
American eagle e145 single seat
In all seriousness, this single seat was every bit as comfortable as the single seat in American Eagle E175 first class. I love the 1-2 seating configuration!

The arrival into Chicago

The rain had started to let up as we approached the Illinois shore of Lake Michigan, and we got a really nice view of the Chicago skyline on the way in. I was also really happy that the air had smoothed out during the approach, as the ride across lower Michigan (and the lake) was butt-clenching to the max.

Embraer 145 flying above the clouds
The sunshine was nice while it lasted, but down we go…
View of Chicago skyline from the air
Land Ho!
Chicago Lake Michigan shore
I’m still not likely to make my connecting flight, but at least I can rest assured that we won’t be crashing into Lake Michigan today. 
Illinois fall colors
There’s some nice fall colors over here in Illinois as well!
Landing at ORD
I used to know ORD like the back of my hand, but they’ve added so many new runways over the last 10-15 years that it’s more like the bottom of my foot now.
Arrival at ORD just before a storm
I have no idea what runway we landed on, but no matter. Welcome to an about-to-be stormy O’Hare Airport.
Taxiing to American Airlines gates ORD airport
It’s true. Even if you are moving at a pretty good clip, taxiing to the gate will feel glacially slow when you know that your connecting flight has already started boarding.
American Eagle terminal ORD
Let’s gooooooo!
Pulling up to American eagle gate O’Hare airport
We haven’t even parked at the gate yet and I’ve already got a death grip on my backpack. I’m ready.
American Eagle e145 aisle
Remember when I told you that a 1 hour layover is enough time in Chicago? If I succeed in what I’m about to attempt, I can start telling everyone that 18 minute layovers are ok as well.
American Eagle e145 galley
Make that 17 minutes. 
American eagle e145 boarding door ramp
Air travel is fun, isn’t it?
American Eagle jet bridge ORD airport
My apologies to this poor man for blowing past here in the jet bridge at well above the speed limit. I had a plane to catch! Which I did end up making by the way (just moments before they closed the boarding door). #whew

Pros and cons of American Eagle ERJ 145 economy class

If there’s one thing you really need to know about flying on one of these American Eagle RJ145s, it’s that it’ll be one of the most uncomfortable air travel experiences of your life. Whether you’re tall or short, fat or skinny, it’s not going to be fun. The following pros and cons list is a summary of how I really feel about it:


  • Boarding and deplaning is relatively quick thanks to how small the ERJ 145 is. You won’t have to wait very long in either scenario.
  • The 1-2 seating configuration is a godsend for solo travelers.


  • There are no first class seats on these airplanes. It’s all economy class.
  • The seats are extremely narrow, which is definitely going to be a problem for anyone carrying a little extra weight.
  • It’s noisy! Even when seated at the front of the airplane, wind and engine noise will become bothersome on longer flights.
  • Turbulence is a mother****** on the ERJ 145. It’s a very light airplane, and it gets bounced around easily in rough air.

Comments (7)

  1. Thomas

    November 18, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      November 18, 2022
  2. Peter

    November 20, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      November 20, 2022
      • Peter

        November 22, 2022
  3. eddie

    March 2, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 2, 2024

Give a Comment

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