Review: American First E175 SAN-LAX

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Purchasing a ticket rather last-minute to Washington D.C., I went with a somewhat convoluted routing in order to hold down ticket costs. Rather than the normal connection in Dallas, I travelled on the outbound via Los Angeles (the way back will be even more fun, stopping “on the way” in Miami!).

San Diego International Airport is only 110 miles from LAX, so this is an extremely short flight. I remember flying the route many times as a kid. Back in the day it was operated almost entirely by prop-jets. These days, American operates the route using Embraer 175 jets. The E-Jet family is my favorite regional jet to fly; it feels like a normal plane, unlike CRJs, which feel tiny to me.

The beauty of this flight is that it provides fantastic views of San Diego and the entire Southern California coast. At only 27 minutes from takeoff to landing, you don’t go much higher than 10,000 feet. It’s as literal a “puddle-jump” as there is.

My upgrade cleared about 24 hours ahead of time. Flights under 500 miles are complimentary and unlimited as an American Airlines elite, and the First Class cabin on this flight was almost entirely empty.

After getting some work done at the AirSpace Lounge, I arrived at the gate just as they had started boarding. Boarding was called for 9:08 AM, but they started even earlier than that, a few minutes before nine. A caught a quick glimpse of our plane, before walking to the jetway (apologies for the window reflection).

American Airlines E175

I selected seat 1F, the window seat in the first row of the plane, where I’d have both ample leg room and a fantastic view.

American Airlines E175 First Class

After taking a seat, the flight attendant came through to offer pre-departure drinks. I took a glass of water, and then another. We ended up having about a half hour on the plane before pushback given how early we boarded this small plane.

Right on time, the doors were closed and we started taxing. I caught a nice glimpse of downtown from the end of the runway right before takeoff.

San Diego through the tree tops

Without delay, we were already rolling down the runway, and we were up in the air seconds later. It amazes me how quickly a small plane like this one gets airborne.

The views flying out of SAN are some of the most beautiful in the land. When heading east, planes take off to the west then bank to the south in a slow, long turn after reaching a few thousand feet. This route gives fantastic views of Point Loma, Coronado Island, Downtown San Diego and, ultimately, much of the city out of the left side of the plane.

When flying north, the good views are on the right side of the plane, as after takeoff your routing hugs the coast line. I knew this, and it is why I picked seat 1F!

La Jolla, from the air.

We couldn’t have been more than 5,000 feet up before the flight attendant was in the cabin offering drinks and snacks. I was pleasantly surprised to be served my drink in a glass even on a flight as short as this. Snack offerings included mini Cliff Bars, some sort of fig bar, crackers, and other odds and ends.

Meal service.

At this point, we’d leveled off at 10,000 feet. The views out of the plane remained striking. It was hard to tell water from air!

Take in the view!

Around Newport Beach, we came back over land, and began our slow descent (barely 15 minutes into the flight!).

Not long after, a few miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, we made a sharp turn to the left and began our final approach into LAX.

La La Land

Twenty seven minutes after taking off in San Diego, we were on the ground, and quickly taxied to our gate in American’s commuter terminal.

Take Away

While I always prefer a nonstop flight, if forced to make a connection, making use of the short hop to LAX is a fantastic alternative to flying through DFW. American’s E175 jets are comfortable, the views on the route are incredible, and the flight is so short you barely feel like you’re flying.