I remember a decade ago when we first started traveling extensively how squeamish I was about flying to Savannah airport in a CRJ 700 plane. In my defense, I had flown earlier that year in a 25- seater plane from Vancouver to Seattle during a storm, which had traumatized me.
To my surprise, the flight ended up as one of the calmest and most uneventful one we had.
The service was impeccable ( SkyWest usually is), and the seats were more comfortable than most of the larger planes we’ve flown in.
Furthermore, we ended up chatting pleasantly with one another, which almost never happens with my teen sons.
Since then we’ve flown several times on these planes (widely used to fly between smaller airports), and I can say we’ve pretty much gotten used to them.
With that said, we did encounter minor challenges that other families with autism should be aware of before booking their next flight this particular aircraft.
The CRJ 700 aircraft is small (17 rows) and divided into rows of two so a family of four can either sit in the same row across from each other or book two seats in one row with the other two in the row behind it.
Either way, since the aircraft is so small, you won’t be that far from the rest of your family members.
Tip: If your kid with autism tends to kick the seat in front of them book them a seat in the bulk row or behind you, so they don’t inconvenience fellow travelers.
Tiny overhead bins
As mentioned before, since this plane is small the overhead bins can’t usually accommodate the 20-inch carry-on suitcases.In the event, your carry-on doesn’t fit you can still give it to handlers at the departure gate (don’t check it in ahead of time) so you can get it back as you exit the aircraft at your destination.
Tip: Consider substituting a backpack (that fits better in the overhead bins) for your carry-on suitcase to pack crucial items like meds and electronics for your special needs kid that you need on a flight.
If your child is noise sensitive book a seat in the front since the CRJ 700 planes are quite noisy in the back.
Tip: stuck with seats in the back? Buy a pair of noise canceling headphones for your child to help tune out the noise.
Based on our flights I can say there is enough the temperature variance between the front and the back of the aircraft –while the front is cold, sometimes too cold, the back gets stuffy and hot!.
Tip: If your child with autism is temperature sensitive it is easier to book seats in the front and bring a blanket or jacket rather than struggle to stay cool in the back.
Surprisingly enough, these planes come without personal screens, so you need to bring at least one preferably two electronic devices to occupy your kid.
Tip: Packing an extra battery in your handbag or carry-on is a good idea since the aircraft doesn’t have any outlets to recharge.
Most of the planes we’ve flown on so far featured one single tiny bathroom for all passengers so there might be a queue to use it after takeoff and meals.
Tip: Teach your kid to think ahead and use the airport restroom before boarding to avoid the lines.
Have you flown on a CRJ 700 aircraft with your special needs child what was your experience?
What was your experience?