Is CommuteAir a Good or Bad Airline? (4 Cons and 6 Pros)

CommuteAir is a regional airline operating flights for United Express, the regional branch of United Airlines. The airline has over 1,000 weekly flights to more than 50 destinations, serving United’s network in the U.S. and Canada through its highly efficient Embraer ERJ-145 jets.

But as a small airline with small planes, you can expect less from CommuteAir, starting with the fact that you can only bring smaller carry-on bags and personal items on board. You should also brace for smaller seats and no inflight inclusions. Let’s get started so you fully understand whether flying with CommuteAir will be worth your money.

Here’s if CommuteAir is a good airline

CommuteAir is a safe and reliable regional airline with good on-time performance and favorable customer approval ratings. It also makes it easy to make reservations and check-in for flights online via the United Airlines app or website and at the airport. United Airlines customers flying with CommuteAir can also enjoy the benefits of United’s Mileage Plus loyalty program.


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6 pros why CommuteAir is a good airline

Admittedly, CommuteAir does well in certain areas and offers benefits you may not enjoy with some regional airlines. These are the five reasons why CommuteAir is a good airline.

1. CommuteAir is a reliable regional airline with good on-time performance

CommuteAir is a dependable regional operator with impressive on-time performance just like United, its parent airline. A recent OAG Punctuality League report shows the airline scored 76.28% for on-time performance.

This means it arrived or departed within 15 minutes of its scheduled times for more than 76% of the time.

CommuteAir has expressly stated on its website that it has short turnaround times averaging less than 30 minutes and that the plane is not going to wait for you if you arrive late.

Boarding is roughly half an hour before departure.

2. It is a safe airline to fly with

CommuteAir operates under United Express, the regional branch of United Airlines, which itself ranks among the top 20 safest airlines globally out of 385 carriers.

Thanks to the airline’s strict flight protocols and procedures, it’s a favorite among travelers looking for fast regional flights without having to compromise their comfort, safety, and security.

It has not run into any major safety issues, and the only most recent incident involving a CommuteAir-operated flight occurred in 2019 when an Embraer jet landed on a snow-covered grassy patch on the right of the runway at Presque Isle International Airport.

There were no serious injuries or casualties.

3. It has good customer approval ratings

While CommuteAir is a small and less-known regional airline, it generally doesn’t share in the many negative reviews most budget carriers and regional operators have on popular travel review websites like TripAdvisor.

A recent J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study gives a positive ranking for United Airlines and its subsidiary, United Express, under which CommuteAir operates.

The assessment looks at eight factors, including inflight services, baggage, boarding, and various costs and fees.

4. It is easy to make reservations and check-in for flights

Making reservations with CommuteAir is pretty easy and you can quickly do it online on the United Airlines app or website.

You can also call United’s reservation line or go in person to the airport.

Eligible flyers can also check in online starting 24 hours before departure, but you can still check in at the airport in person.

Since the airline is solely an operator of United Express, the United Express personnel will handle the check-in, and it closes 30-45 minutes before departure.

5. You can enjoy the benefits of United Airlines’ MileagePlus loyalty program

While CommuteAir doesn’t expressly offer a frequent flyer program, passengers who buy their tickets through United Airlines can still earn United’s MileagePlus points and redeem the benefits.

The MileagePlus loyalty program gives customers who fly frequently with United a chance to earn and use miles and offers the most award destinations compared to other U.S. airlines.

Members can work their way up, gaining rewards and benefits like early check-in and priority boarding with the more miles they earn, and there are up to 80,000 bonus miles.

Those who attain the MileagePlus Premier status enjoy an elevated travel experience at each step of their journey. The benefits include priority travel services, waived fees, and various upgrades on United flights.

6. Customers can enjoy the Star Alliance benefits

CommuteAir is not directly part of any airline alliance, but United Express/United Airlines passengers flying with CommuteAir are still able to enjoy benefits that accrue to Star Alliance members.

The Star Alliance network is the world’s largest airline alliance, and its member airlines can offer unique perks to their customers.

For example, MileagePlus customers can earn and redeem award miles on other popular airlines like Swiss Air Lines, Lufthansa, and ANA.

Moreover, they can occasionally take part in the Mile Play promotion and earn extra miles for taking a certain number of flights within some set period.

4 cons why CommuteAir is a bad airline

In all honesty, no airline is perfect, and CommuteAir has its unique set of cons that worry some travelers. These are the four main reasons why CommuteAir is a bad airline.

1. The seating is smaller and less comfortable

The Embraer ERJ-145 jets CommuteAir operates are smaller and their seats feel cramped, with not much legroom.

Even for a 45-minute flight, this is noticeable and might make you feel like you’re on an endless flight.

To make up for this, CommuteAir operates jets without the dreaded middle seat, which would otherwise take a toll on your overall inflight experience.

The planes have one seat on the left of the aisle and two on the right or, in some cases, two on both sides.

This gives passengers a 66% chance of getting a window or aisle seat so the seats don’t feel too small and uncomfortable.

2. CommuteAir has limited hubs and flies to a few destinations

CommuteAir admits on its website that it currently operates from the mid-continent from hubs in Denver, Houston, and Washington Dulles, operating flights to the smaller regional communities across North America.

Since the airline serves only to support United Airlines’ global network and has a few hubs, it may not be the best choice for travelers who don’t live near a hub.

Remember, most US-based flights will originate, end, or pass through one of these hubs. You also won’t get flights beyond the United States and Canada.

3. It offers no premium flight perks, inflight inclusions, or entertainment

Being a small airline that mostly operates the 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145XR, CommuteAir will disappoint you if you’re looking to enjoy premium benefits because it doesn’t have them.

The only seating class available is Standard (Economy), and facilities and services are limited on board since the regional flights are particularly short.

So, expect no inflight WiFi, TV, or any entertainment.

4. Unfriendly baggage policy

CommuteAir has a unique baggage policy for carry-on and checked bags that most travelers find unappealing.

The airline advises passengers to bring only smaller carry-on bags and personal items due to the small cabin space on its planes.

Additionally, there is no free baggage allowance, and items must not weigh more than 50 lbs.

CommuteAir alternatives

CommuteAir is a relatively less popular regional airline that may not offer you the best service depending on your specific needs and preferences.

It might make more sense to fly with a larger, reputable carrier, and these are the best alternatives to CommuteAir: