United Express CRJ-200 economy class San Diego to Los Angeles

United Express CRJ-200 economy class San Diego to Los Angeles

As I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to start this United Express CRJ-200 review, I can’t stop thinking about how amazing it was that I actually made a conscious decision to book a CRJ-200 up to Los Angeles. Without sounding like I’m complaining too much (because nobody likes a complainer), it’s the aircraft I hate more than anything else and I normally go really far out of my way to avoid them.

I hate them so much actually that I think riding a donkey up to LAX would be the better option. Both the CRJ-200 and donkey are small, stinky, and uncomfortable beasts – but at least the donkey has a friendly personality I can relate to. The CRJ doesn’t care that it’s windows are too low or that there’s no space for carry on bags – as a matter fact, it doesn’t care about me at all. The donkey on the other hand, is likely to be nice to me for giving it attention and hoping that I’m going to lead it to food and water.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this intro, but I’m going to end it here since I’ve spent too much time trying to think of something clever and I need to get on with the trip report. Basically, all you need to know is that I like donkeys more than I do CRJ-200’s.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Aircraft: CRJ-200 (ugh)
Registration: N917SW
Duration: 27 minutes
Seat: 4A (economy class)

United Express CRJ-200 side view
United Express CRJ-200 (N917SW) side view illustration by norebbo.com. On a side note, printouts of this would make excellent targets for use down at the local gun range…
SAN-LAX aviation route
The route from SAN to LAX. One that I’m quite familiar with thank you very much.

Sitting in airport lounges can be fun and relaxing, but I get usually restless after a while and it’s not uncommon that I leave with more than an hour to go before boarding for the flight begins. There was certainly no specific reason to leave the United Club as early as I did, but I had my fill and felt like walking around down in the main terminal for a while instead.

And never mind that I know this airport like the back of my hand and that I’ve been here too many times to count – it’s just that I enjoy the experience of wandering around an airport (any airport) and I get a kick out of watching all the people come and go. Next to traveling, people watching is easily my number two hobby.

Terminal 2 west San Diego international airport
Good ‘ol terminal 2 west. It kicks the snot out of terminal 1, that’s for sure.
United express CRJ-200 chipped paint
Speaking of things that have had the snot kicked out them, my ride up to LAX this morning looks like she’s seen better days.

Today’s people watching opportunities were decent, thanks to a young woman in the gate area for this flight who was very openly afraid to fly – and she let everyone sitting around her know it. I really felt bad for her since she was so visibly nervous and this was obviously the last place that she wanted to be (kind of like how I am when my dentist picks up a drill and tells me to “open wide”). Making it worse was the fact that she was a traveling to Las Vegas, and somehow she ended up on this flight to Los Angeles where she would connect to another little CRJ over to LAS. That’s pain and suffering I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

Why am I telling you all this? Because listening to her life story and all her problems was the main event while sitting there at the gate waiting to board this flight. No detail is too small to be left out of my trip reports – you should know that by now!

United airlines zone boarding process
Fancy pants people on the left, and the peons (which includes me) on the right.

The boarding process started exactly on time, and I was on my way down the jet bridge within minutes thanks to my zone 2 boarding pass.

United express jet bridge San Diego international airport
It’s really hard to see in this picture, but jet bridges are very steep when angled down to connect to a little CRJ at the end of it!
Boarding a United express CRJ-200
OK, get ready to tuck in those extremities, because things are about to get tight. The only consolation is that I’ll be stretching out in Emirates A380 business class within a few hours.
United express CRJ-200 close up
Do I really have to? One last pic before going in.
United express CRJ-200 cockpit windows
Wait! One more! And just let me count the rivets… (I hope it wasn’t too obvious that I was trying to stall).

As I was stepping onboard, those horrific CRJ-200 flashbacks from years past came rushing back and I remember my last flight on one of these things just like it was yesterday.

Ducking my head as I stepped through the boarding door, staying crouched as I walked down the aisle to find my seat, feeling frustrated that there’s no room for my carry-on bag either beneath the seat in front of me or in the overhead bin, and then still having to hang my head low as I tried to get a look out the window. Whoever designed this thing needs to be fired – or at the very least demoted to assistant line cook in the Bombardier kitchen.

United express CRJ-200 main cabin
United express CRJ-200 main cabin. By the way, I totally envy her for being short enough that she didn’t have to hunch over while walking down the aisle.
United express CRJ-200 seats
United express CRJ-200 seats. Closing my eyes and imagining myself sitting down in plush Emirates A380 business class helped to dull the pain as I shoehorned my way into the window seat.
United express CRJ-200 interior
The view across the aisle is a good one to show you exactly how low the windows are in the CRJ-200. If you have a window seat and you enjoy looking out, you will have a sore neck by the end of the flight.
United express CRJ-200 leg room
Good luck stuffing anything under the seat in front of you. This is as far as my backpack would go, which was impressive considering that there was hardly anything in it (due to the fact that I was heading to the desert for a few days).
United express CRJ-200 main cabin bulkhead
The door is still open…I can still make a run for it…
United express CRJ-200 safety card
Nah, I’m staying put. There’s no way in hell that I’m going to miss that Emirates A380, so I better brush up on the safety features of this little CRJ.
United express CRJ-200 safety card
Diagram number 4 in section C is pretty much how I’m feeling at the moment.

The flight looked to be completely full as the boarding door was closed, and just as that was happening the captain made an announcement that the weight and balance was all wrong and that he needed someone from the front to move to the back. Apparently there were some empty seats back there, but from where I was sitting this flight looked as if it was packed to the rafters. Come to think of it, that’s not so difficult of a thing to achieve in a CRJ actually.

I felt as if I had won the lottery when the guy sitting next to me raised his hand and said that he would move. But then I immediately started wondering if there was something very wrong with me, to the point where he was just dying to get away at all costs. Was I smelly? Did it make him uncomfortable when my knee accidentally rubbed against his several minutes ago? Nah, he probably got freaked out when I was taking pictures of the safety card.

Quite frankly I didn’t care all that much why he decided to move, and I was quite enjoying the feeling of having an empty seat next to me on this tiny little airplane. But then…*poof*! That feeling of absolute bliss was robbed from me in an instant when the flight attendant took the large guitar case from the guy seated one row ahead and strapped it in to that empty seat beside me.

SANspotter selfie United express CRJ
Making friends. Flying with a guitar is not something I do often (it wasn’t mine lol), but – it was one of the best seatmates I’ve ever had actually!

So here we go into the awkward and dull section of the trip report. You see, these San Diego to Los Angeles flights are usually so uneventful and short that most of the action happens even before pushing off the gate. Once up in the air and on the way to LA, it all goes by in a (dull) flash – and then we land. Always. Nothing ever exciting happens on these flights and this one was no different. Here’s the proof:

San Diego airport runway markings
I never miss an opportunity to nab fun pics for my Instagram account! Here are some cool looking airport markings, which seem to imply that standing between these two triangles (at the points) is the right thing to do.
San Diego international airport runway
In comparison, here is a pic from just a few seconds later that wasn’t intended for Instagram. I’m a lot less motivated when social media is taken out of the equation!
United express CRJ take off San Diego airport
Imagine the sound of a vacuum cleaner at full power (one of those handheld things you can buy for $10 at a yard sale) and you’ll get a sense of what the CRJ-200 sounds like on take off.
Terminal one San Diego airport
The next few pics illustrate perfectly why you need to get a window seat on the left-hand side of the airplane when departing San Diego. There’s a Southwest party happening at terminal 1…
 Terminal 2 east SAN
…American is holding down the fort at terminal 2 east…
Terminal 2west SAN
…and nobody seems to be home at terminal 2 west.
Departing San Diego airport
No caption. Just scenery.
Ocean beach San Diego
That’s the Ocean Beach pier down there, and if you’ve never been to San Diego before, it needs to be on your list of things to see on your first visit. Hippies, beach bums, surfers, and palm trees – it doesn’t get any more SoCal than that!
Inside a United express CRJ-200
See? Nothing exciting ever happens inside a CRJ-200.
Sleeping on a CRJ-200
The boredom might have killed them.
United express snack
But wait, there’s pretzels! I can’t remember the last time I got a snack on a regional jet flight between San Diego and Los Angeles, so this was nice. Too bad everybody else is sleeping…
SANspotter selfie crj
I’m not letting this opportunity pass.
View from San Diego to Los Angeles flight
The view from 11,000 feet – the perfect complement for cheap airline pretzels.
Flying over Long Beach Harbor
But then, suddenly…Long Beach. It just me or does anyone else think of the lyrics from Dr Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” when he says “… and the city they call Long Beach” whenever somebody mentions this place? It’s been stuck in my head since I was 18 and I’ve never been able to shake it.
Flying over Los Angeles California
Some miscellaneous scenery on the way in to LAX. That big airport front and center in the bottom pic is LGB by the way. Dr Dre and Snoop Dog would approve, I’m sure of it.
Proud bird restaurant LAX
Ahh, memories. That there is the Proud Bird restaurant and Museum, a place that I used to spend entire days at in the early 2000‘s (when I was heavily into aviation photography). See the dark parking lot at the left center of the pic? That’s a prime spot for photographing 25L arrivals.
Arrival at LAX
Welcome to LAX! Where the view on the way in was so uninteresting today that I have no caption for it.
Tight gate area LAX
It gives me heartburn to look at this pic and realize how tight they pack things in here at LAX. It’s a good thing that I don’t work as a tug operator here, because I’m pretty sure that I would clip a wing on my very first day and I’d never be able to work in this town again.
United express arrival at LAX
“DING! You are now free from the confines of this crappy little CRJ-200.” I think that’s how the welcome announcement went, but I can’t quite remember.
CRJ-200 tight seat pitch
Hard to believe this was my 46th CRJ-200 flight. I do hope it was my last.
CRJ-200 aisle
Maybe she had so much fun that she simply refused to get off the plane? I wasn’t about to stick around to find out. I’m outta here!
Red travel bag
#redbaggoals Replacing my black backpack with a red one is awful tempting…
United airlines terminal seven LAX
Tom Bradley, here I come.

Sorry for the lack of text to go with the pics, but there’s really not much to say about the in-flight experience between San Diego and Los Angeles. I suppose I could’ve transcribed the captain’s welcome announcement, as well as what the flight attendants said when we landed, but it would be impolite of me to expect you to read it all.

It’s a tough balance to figure out what to include and not to include in these reviews, but I’ve come to learn that pics speak louder than words and there’s no point in trying to write paragraphs of content describing the fact that there wasn’t even a drink service because the flight was so short.

But wow….I’m confident that I’d be able to write entire books about the experience of riding a donkey up to Los Angeles. If that ever happens, be prepared to do some reading!

OK, enough CRJ talk. Emirates A380 business class to Dubai is next!

Comments (6)

  1. stevin henderson

    July 20, 2018
    • SANspotter

      July 20, 2018
  2. Albert

    February 4, 2019
    • SANspotter

      February 4, 2019
  3. Peter

    February 23, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      February 24, 2023

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