For Gretchen Dietz, Delta’s Manager of Delta Connection – Product, watching the departure of San Diego-bound flight 3550 at Seattle’s Sea-Tac International Airport Friday was the culmination of a several-year effort to bring the new plane to the sky.
It was the first departure of a SkyWest-operated Embraer E175 for Delta Connection. And while regional carriers Compass Airlines and Shuttle America today fly the E175, this aircraft features an updated interior with nose-to-tail in-seat power outlets, mainline-style seats, ambient lighting and faster ATG-4 Wi-Fi. The jet will also fly with new, more fuel-efficient wingtips, which extend the wingspan of the aircraft by roughly nine feet and reduce fuel burn and environmental impact.
"We’ve been making a concerted effort to enhance the on-board experience of our regional jets, and this brand new E175 comes with all the trim and finishes of a mainline aircraft on a plane with 76 seats,” Dietz said. “We designed the interior of this aircraft, in cooperation with SkyWest Airlines and Embraer, for a consistent brand experience.”
It’s the first of 19 new jets to be flown by SkyWest Airlines and will operate primarily on Delta’s West Coast Shuttle between Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The remaining aircraft will arrive in the next several months.
The new addition to the regional fleet is part of the airline’s broader push to make the Delta Connection experience like mainline. Earlier this year, Bombardier CRJ-700s began going through a modification program to outfit the interior with new seats, power ports, refreshed sidewalls, overhead bins and lighting. Other Bombardier CRJ-900s and existing Embraer E170s and E175s are soon to receive a similar treatment.