My First Flight On The Bombardier CSeries

We’ve seen a lot of new plane technology lately. In the widebody market there’s the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, which are fuel efficient and lower capacity than many of the planes they replace, and they’ve made a lot of new routes viable. We’ve also seen advancements in the narrowbody market, with the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo, which are more fuel efficient and longer range versions of their predecessors.

There’s one other disruptive plane that has been introduced in the past couple of years, which I had the chance to fly for the first time yesterday. Specifically, I’m talking about the Bombardier CSeries (Swiss was the launch customer, and they operated their first CSeries flight in July 2016). This jet is a bit smaller than the 737, so it fills an interesting gap between the 737/A320 and the regional jet market. There are two versions of the plane — the CSeries 100 and CSeries 300. In Swiss’ configuration, these planes feature 125 and 145 seats, respectively.

Nowadays I think that regional jets can provide a superior experience to what you’ll find on larger aircraft. That’s not necessarily due to any particular features of the plane, but rather because airlines seem to get really greedy when it comes to densifying the A320 and 737. For example, I love the Embraer 170/175/190 aircraft.

I’ve heard from a lot of people that the CSeries offers a really great passenger experience, and I was curious to try it for myself. So, is the CSeries actually an improvement over what else is out there?

Last night I flew the CSeries from Zurich to Geneva (which is a 30 minute flight), and overall I was impressed. There were some things that I didn’t love, but overall the difference between this and the A321 we flew in economy from London to Zurich was night and day.

The CSeries is in a 2-3 configuration, which is awesome, since it means you can select a set of two seats on one side if you’re traveling with someone. Having just 20% of the seats be middle seats (rather than the usual 33% on A320s/737s) is great.

Perhaps the best feature of the CSeries is that the seats are naturally wide due to the layout. Apparently the seats on Swiss are 18.5″ wide (compared to the typical 17-18″), and you really feel it. That might not sound like much, but it makes a noticeable difference.

The pitch isn’t overly generous, but I was comfortable. The seats have standard size tray tables, and there are two “pockets.” I’m not sure if they’re intended to store water bottles, cell phones, or both (I had one of each, and they both fit as you’d expect).

The plane also has large windows. They felt like they were about the usual width, but they were significantly higher than usual.

The CSeries cabin also feels sleek and modern. Maybe it’s just the finishes that Swiss chose, but I thought the cabin was actually nice to look at as well.

The plane has some cool overhead monitors. These are in permanent positions, and the safety video is played on them. At other points in the flight there’s an airshow there, which you otherwise don’t often get on narrowbody planes without personal televisions. I appreciate that feature. Oh, and there are individual air nozzles — yay!

However, rather bizarrely nearly half of the monitors on the plane were broken and just had horizontal lines on them. I’m a bit surprised this was okay with the crew, since many people couldn’t easily see the safety video, especially given how small those screens are.

Overall I felt like the plane was a smooth ride. However, I found it to be a bit loud, and it made an odd whining noise when the engines accelerated.

Still, all things considered the CSeries was a joy to fly on. The cabin is modern, the seats are noticeably more spacious, and I love the 2-3 layout. Oh, and it’s a damn sexy plane, especially from the outside. It looks like a baby 787. I think this may be my new favorite narrowbody aircraft type.

If you’ve flown the Bombardier CSeries, what was your experience like?

Comments

  1. The C-series is a game changer for a number of reasons. It is the first aircraft that can deliver unit costs comparable to modern wide-bodies across a 2500nm mission, but with a much lower size commitment. In places like Africa this can truly be a game changer as it permits point to point trunk connectivity and secondary/tertiary hub connectivity. Similarly North American secondary transcon markets, intra-European connectivity, etc..

    I spent a long time discussing the C-Series with Bombardier’s design and sales team back in the mid-2000s with a specific focus on what it could do for Africa, so I’m excited to see the aircraft finally enter service (and with the Airbus partnership it has a chance to truly go mainstream). If properly marketed and assuming it delivers on technical specs, this aircraft has the potential to revolutionise air travel similar to what the 707 did in the 1960s.

  2. As Sean pointed out, the technology and efficiency of this aircraft has the potential to make it huge. I really hope Airbus can give the program the support it needs to take off, as Bombardier clearly had some brilliant engineers work on this, but they couldn’t sell the plane or manage their finances (which is rather typical of them as an organization). The plane deserves better than a slow death from trade disputes and poor program management…

  3. Technically, I believe Swiss was the launch customer for the CS100 series, while airBaltic was the launch customer for the CS300 series, no?

  4. It’s crazy that the seat width on this regional jet is the same width as the new Delta premium-economy seat for flights of 12-14 hours.

  5. According to SeatGuru the seat width on the Swiss CS-100 is 18.5, but on the CS-300 it is only 17.

  6. I flew the CS100 a couple of times between Zurich and Luxembourg (ca 50min flight) and I think the experience compared to the previously used Avro rj100 has improved on all levels. It feels spacious, elegant, modern, I even find it more silent than the alternatives (ie also the Dash 8 Q400 that Luxair is using mainly which is very loud); an overall such positive and comfortable experience for those short flights.

  7. Flown several times on Swiss between both Nice>GVA & ZRH — quick flights, efficient service and very nice planes

  8. Just had my first CS100 experience yesterday as well on Swiss from TXL to ZRH. Similar comments on noise – plane is a bit loud and the engine ramp whining noise was a bit disconcerting at first. Flying it into Zurich in the middle of the wind storms was an adventure – a bit more “unstable” than an Airbus in my opinion.

    Nice seat width, though. Modern cabin. Big overhead bins. I appreciate its efficiency as well.

    I was in business, and an Interesting difference from the Airbus fleet on Swiss is lack of any divider between the cabins. Although European biz class is nothing to write home about, it means that any “exclusivity” – perceived or bathroom usage – is gone completely.

    Great regional plane, though. Would be a great capacity step on some US routes currently served by the CR9 and Embraer fleets.

  9. Too bad the Avros (wich are replaced by the CSeries in the Case of Swiss) offered so much more space and were very nice to fly from a passengers point of view…

  10. 2 points the flight attendants really appreciate about the c-series are:

    – large overhead bins, which significantly speeds up boarding.
    – the large windows greatly lighten up the cabin during a daytime flight, which is a really nice improvement when you regularly fly a few hours a day !

  11. I have had the pleasure to fly on the LX CS100 many times and I personally think that this specific type of aircraft has a great future for domestic / regional operation. From a passenger side, the aircraft cabin feels so much more spacious and modern than your usual regional jets. Operationally, the aircraft is very versatile, flying at low unit-costs. It will be a game-changer for lots of network carriers operating with an extensive feeder network.

  12. “an Interesting difference from the Airbus fleet on Swiss is lack of any divider between the cabins.”

    You’re starting to see that on more and more intra-European flights, and not just on Swiss.

  13. @Julia

    You are right, I flew airBaltics CS300 on the second day of service. It was a rather unmemorable flight with the typically cold airBaltic service. The plane was fine but honestly nothing besides the 2-3 layout that I felt significantly different about compared to classic narrow-body.

  14. >According to SeatGuru the seat width on the Swiss CS-100 is 18.5, but on the CS-300 it is only 17.

    Nah, in 5 abreast CS100 and 300 have the same layout. 18.5″ seats except for the middle one which is 19″.

    Also the aisle is 20″ compared to 19″ on a 320.

  15. I’m surprised at your comments saying the plane is loud, I flew it 4 times and you can hardly hear the engines powering up and at full power! I find it much quieter than the coffee grinder noise the engines make on the A320.
    Also, the Swiss CEO has said in interviews the Cseries is now the quietest plane in their fleet. I agree with everything else, cute little plane, comfy and I could definitely do a medium haul on it (Riga Aud is now on I hear).

  16. The interesting whine from the engine is due to the torque converter or a gear which enables the fan and the turbines/compressors to operate at different speeds to maximize each components’ efficiency. A similar noise can be experienced in a manual transmission car in reverse gear. It’s a very efficient and advanced engine.

  17. I had a very similar experience as Lucky, flying on Swiss from ZRH to MXP 2 weeks ago. One third of the mini monitors appeared broken and on takeoff it was surprisingly noisy. I enjoyed the aircraft very much but compared to the Avro that Swiss were flying previously on this route it was a bit noisier. I still love the technology of the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan.

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