Starting Oct. 6, Alaska Airlines is transitioning from the Q400 prop to the Embraer 175 jet on its Seattle flight, Helena Regional Airport recently posted online.
The airport said on its Facebook page the benefits of the Embraer 175 include a more comfortable flight, as it has three class configurations of First Class, Economy Comfort and Economy.
They also mentioned speed and that passengers would get to Seattle faster as the Embraer has a cruising speed of 495 mph, which is 130 mph faster than the Q400.
And they noted a smoother ride, saying the Embraer would avoid some turbulence by flying at 35,000 feet instead of 25,000.
Alaska Airlines now has one daily flight at Helena Regional Airport.
On its webpage, Alaska Airlines said the Embraer, which has a wingspan of 94 feet 2 inches, is designed for short to mid-range flights. It "features 76 comfortable, wide seats; with no middle seats, every passenger has either a window or aisle seat. Inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi are available for everyone onboard, and First Class seats offer power outlets."
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"Our E175s are equipped with new wingtips that help improve fuel efficiency to reduce CO2 emissions by 6.4%," Alaska Airlines says. "Fun fact: the E175 maximum takeoff weight is equivalent to approximately 10,000 Copper River salmon."
The E175 aircraft will fly exclusively for Alaska Airlines under a Capacity Purchase Agreement with Horizon Air.
"The E175 is an extremely efficient aircraft,” Nat Pieper, senior vice president of fleet, finance and alliances for Alaska Airlines, said in a July news release about the Embraer. “The jet is the perfect aircraft to serve Horizon’s regional network in the Pacific Northwest and beyond."
Jeff Wadekamper, airport director, called the change a good thing.
He said the Q400 was a good aircraft that had served well, but said this new aircraft will get people to Seattle quicker. The current flight is one hour and 45 minutes.
Wadekamper said the terminal expansion completed in 2020 allowed for the new jet to serve Helena. He said a new boarding bridge was installed at the Alaska gate to ensure the upcoming transition was possible.
He also said he was hopeful Alaska would add another flight out of Helena.
Editor's note: Story has been updated to correct speed to say it will be 130 mph faster.