Delta Adds Premium-Heavy CRJ-550 to Fleet

Delta is adding a (somewhat) new aircraft to the fleet. The Atlanta based carrier will add Bombardier CRJ-550’s to the fleet operated by Delta Connection partner SkyWest.

As initially reported by Airline Geeks, SkyWest is transitioning 19 CRJ-700s from an expiring contract with American Eagle over to CRJ-550s to be used for an “unspecified carrier”. Today, we learned who the lucky carrier is as the CRJ-550 has appeared on Delta’s fleet page.

a plane on the runway
SkyWest is Converting 19 CRJ-700s to CRJ-550s for Delta Connection

The CRJ-550 is a Win for Frequent Flyers

At its core, the CRJ-550 is just a modified CRJ-700 equipped with 50 seats. This is done to navigate airline scope clauses that limit the number of larger regional jets each airline can operate as part of their pilot contracts.

While a typical CRJ-700 can feature up to 76 seats, the CRJ-550 is equipped with only 50 seats to get around the scope clause. This fills a major hole in the Delta Connection fleet as the airline retires the 50-seat, all Economy CRJ-200s

Since the CRJ-550 is larger than the -200 variant, the airline can install a premium heavy layout to fill the space. The plane will be equipped in a three-class layout featuring First Class, Comfort+, and Economy in the following configuration:

  • 10 First Class Seats
  • 20 Extra Legroom Comfort+ Seats
  • 20 Economy Class Seats
a screenshot of a phone
Delta Connection CRJ-550 Seat Specifications

With 60% of the seats being First Class or Comfort+ this plane will have one of the easiest upgrade odds in the fleet for Delta elites. The airline also installed onboard closets which can be used to store larger carry-on bags.

The CRJ-550 is great for frequent flyers and regular travelers alike. The percentage of premium seats is great for elites looking for upgrades and the onboard storage means more passengers can bring on their carry-on luggage without needing to gate check them. It also represents a massive upgrade over the CRJ-200s that were widely loathed by travelers.

Where Will Delta Deploy the CRJ-550s

The airline hasn’t yet announced where they will deploy the CRJ-550s though there are a few options. Delta previously operated the CRJ-200 on routes out of a variety of their hubs before retiring the last of the type in 2023. With no 50 seat aircraft remaining in the fleet, the airline has had to deploy larger CRJ-700 and EMB-175 aircraft on smaller routes with less demand.

It is possible that the airline could deploy the new aircraft on some of these smaller routes which makes their Salt Lake City hub a possible base. The Salt Lake City hub was the last airport where Delta based the CRJ-200.

Delta Connection CRJ-200
Delta Retired the last of their CRJ-200 Aircraft in 2023

On the other hand, the premium heavy layout makes it possible that Delta would deploy the aircraft on premium business routes. The airline has frequently used regional jet aircraft to expand service in popular markets including my home airport of Austin. Either way, it will be exciting to see where they decide to deploy the new aircraft (and hopefully I’ll be on it).

Delta Joins United in Operating the CRJ-550

The CRJ-550 may be new to the Delta fleet but it isn’t new to United frequent flyers. The airline began operating the type back in 2019 in order to navigate their own scope clause. United’s scope clause is the most restrictive of the big 3 US carriers and they rely the most on 50 seat regional jets. In addition to the CRJ-550, United operates CRJ-200, and Embraer EMB-135/145 series aircraft.

a group of airplanes on a runway
United Express Operates a Large Number of 50 Seat Aircraft including the CRJ-550 and CRJ-200

United operates 36 CRJ-550s operated by GoJet under the United Express banner and mainly flies them on business routes. This includes their Washington to New York shuttle flights and smaller, business focused routes like Northwest Arkansas (XNA). This could give us a glimpse into Delta’s plans for the type.


Delta has billed itself as a premium focused airline and the addition of the CRJ-550 will further solidify that. The aircraft is great for passengers and will provide plenty of upgrade opportunities for frequent fliers. It still remains to be seen where the airline will operate these aircraft but we;ll update this post when the information becomes available.

  1. 10 FC seats ? What is the configuration as typically on the CRJ , the FC cabin is three seats per row.

    1. In order to accommodate the luggage storage and snack area, Row 4 has a single seat on the left side of the aircraft. Rows 1-3 are in the standard 1-2 configuration.

  2. I don’t mean to be snarky, but proper use of English would have resulted in an understandable headline vs. a confusing/ambiguous one.

    When I read “Delta Adds Premium Heavy CRJ-550 to Fleet” I was very confused, because it implies that there is a CRJ heavy (wide body) jet. Of course, there is not, thus the confusion.

    If you’d just inserted one little dash to say “Delta Adds Premium-Heavy CRJ-550 to Fleet” it would have been clear that the word heavy was modifying “premium” and was not describing the aircraft itself.

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