Review: United Express CRJ-900 Economy (BTR-IAH)

My alarm went off at the crack of dawn the Sunday morning after the LSU/Arkansas game and I was up and headed to Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport to begin the next phase of my trip.


Before the New York segment of this trip was added, I had booked a flight back home to Austin, via Houston, with United. A couple months before departure I had to cancel that flight and rebook which I worried would result in an extremely high fare. Fortunately, I booked my one way flight in Economy from Baton Rouge to Newark, via Houston seven weeks before departure for $270.


My flight to Houston was scheduled to board at 8:30a and I arrived at the airport at 7:45a. This was entirely too early but I wanted to leave some extra time in case I had any trouble getting an Uber from the hotel. With no bags to check I headed straight for security which, just like my last trip from Baton Rouge, had no line and I was through quickly.

a large display in a building
a large statue of a giraffe in a large building

Not much was open in the airport this morning so I made a right after security and followed the signage to our departure gate. While the Baton Rouge Airport is divided into two concourses, in reality there are only 8 gates so it is pretty easy to find your gate. Delta and United operate from Concourse A while American utilizes Concourse B.

Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Concourse A Interior

Our waiting Mesa CRJ-900 was sitting on a hardstand at Gate A3-B though the agents working the flight as well as the information screen was at Gate A1. We still had roughly 40 minutes before boarding so I grabbed a seat and tried to catch a few extra minutes of sleep.

United Express CRJ-900 N326MS at Baton Rouge Airport


A few minutes before our scheduled boarding time the gate agents made an announcement that we would be boarding through the doorway at A3-B and walking out to the plane. I’m not sure why they decided to go this route as both United gates were unoccupied and A3-B isn’t a traditional ground boarding gate. I can only assume this was due to the available parking when aircraft arrived the night prior.

United Express CRJ-900 at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport

The gate agents tried to enforce boarding groups but since the area wasn’t set up for boarding it ended up a little chaotic. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry which was good as the handheld scanners were being finnicky. Once my boarding pass was scanned I headed through the door and down a set of stairs out to the ramp. I’m not sure how anyone with mobility issues would have boarded as there wasn’t an elevator or ramp nearby.

Gate A3-B at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport

Our plane today was in the Mesa Airlines house livery as they work to transition the CRJ-900 fleet from American Eagle to United Express.

Mesa Airlines DBA United Express
UA 6311
BTR-IAH (Baton Rouge Metro – Houston-Bush Intercontinental)
Seat: 4A (Economy)
CRJ-900 (N326MS) (Mesa House Livery)
Scheduled: 8:55a-10:15a
Actual: 8:49a-10:05a

Since we boarded without using the jet bridge, I was able to get a nice view of N326MS (a 16 year old CRJ-900) that would be taking us over to Houston.

Mesa Airlines CRJ-900 N326MS at Baton Rouge Airport


Once on board I made my way through the small First Class cabin and found my seat in the first row of Economy. Mesa is somewhat unique in the fact that they have 3 rows of seating for First Class, in a standard 1-2 configuration, while the first row of Economy is also in a 1-2 configuration. Because of this, I assigned myself seat 4A, the single seat on the lefthand side of the aircraft. This is the best seat in the entire Economy cabin as you have a ton of legroom, no seatmate, and don’t have to worry about getting bumped by passengers in the aisle. You could tell these planes used to fly for American Eagle as the seats still had the American color scheme with a red stripe denoting extra legroom seats.

United Express CRJ-900 Economy Cabin

As I mentioned earlier, the legroom was good and with no bulkhead wall I was able to store my briefcase under the seat in front of me.

United Express CRJ-900 Economy Legroom


Even with the ground boarding and confusion upstairs, our completely full CRJ-900 finished boarding six minutes early and we pushed back to head for Houston. We taxied out past a United Boeing 737-800 operating a one-off flight to bring fans back from the game. The airport typically receives ERJ-145 and ERJ-175 aircraft from United on regular traffic days.

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 N33262 at Baton Rouge Airport

With no other traffic out on the taxiway, we made it to our departure runway, 31, and blasted off to the northwest on our way to Houston.

A United 737 waits at the gate while a Mesa CRJ-900 departs from Baton Rouge


After departure, we made a left hand turn and headed west towards Houston. It was a beautiful morning for flying and we got a view of the Mississippi River shortly after takeoff.

a aerial view of a city
a river running through a forest

The cabin crew announced that due to the short nature of the flight, there would be no in-flight service in the Economy cabin. I shut the window shade and fell asleep and was only awakened when the wheels hit the ground in Houston. I can’t typically sleep on planes so I know I’m tired when I actually manage to do so.


We landed in Houston 25 minutes ahead of schedule and started our long taxi over to our arrival gate in Terminal B.

A United Boeing 767 parked on the ramp at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport

After a 15 minute taxi we arrived at Gate B83. There must have been a VIP customer with a short connection on our flight as a Jaguar i-Pace customer service vehicle was waiting for us to pull in.

United Airlines VIP Customer Jaguar i-Pace at Houston Intercontinental Airport

Since I was seated in the first row of Economy, I was off the plane quickly and headed off to the Skyway and my connecting gate in Terminal E.

Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport Terminal B Interior


As is the case on many of the short regional jet routes in the United States, there was no service in Economy on this flight. Therefore the flight can only really be judged on the ground experience, seat, and timeliness. While the ground experience in Baton Rouge was a little strange, we departed early, I had a very comfortable solo seat, and we arrived early into Houston. This wasn’t my first and definitely won’t be my last United Express CRJ-900 flight. If you can get seat 4A, it is a very comfortable flying experience.

In This Trip Report

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