Charlottesville-Albermarle Airport is located about 1.5 hours west of Richmond, and about 2.5-3 hours southwest of Washington DC. While not necessarily considered an alternate airport for either of these cities, it’s a great departure point for those in central Virginia, particularly those attending or working at the University of Virginia.
The airport is small, with ticketing counters for US Airways/American, United and Delta, who all offer regional jet service to their hubs (Delta does operated one mainline jet a day to Atlanta). The United and Delta counters appeared to be staffed by contract employees, while the US/AA counter was staffed by true AA/US employees, which was nice.
Security is done through one lane, and there’s no separate Pre-Check line. If you’re eligible, you’ll receive “expedited screening,” though will still to remove your laptop from your bag. Once inside the terminal, there’s a small convenience store to your left, with the gates for all flights straight ahead and up the escalator to the right, which is where all AA and US flights depart from. My particular flight was to Chicago, operated by an American Eagle CRJ-200. Boarding commenced right on schedule, and it was necessary to walk down a pair of escalators directly onto the tarmac, onto the waiting jet several hundred feet away.
Planeside luggage was collected, and I walked up the ramp to the jet, where I was greeted by a fantastic flight attendant, who was a pleasure throughout the entire trip. I took my seat in 8C, which is an aisle exit row seat. It’s worth noting that the exit row seats on this aircraft don’t truly have anymore room than the other standard seats throughout. In fact, I prefer the bulkhead seat at 1B or 1C, since I’m able to extend my leg beyond the bulkhead.
This flight was full to capacity, and we taxied to the only runway, taking off a short-while later. Airborne, we were served a full selection from the beverage cart. I didn’t think any snacks would be catered on this flight, but when I heard the person in front of me buying a package of M&Ms, I inquired about snack availability once the flight attendant got to my row. Using my Executive Platinum privileges, I asked for some white wine and the pita chips/hummus.
By the time the beverage service had finished, it was only a short time later before we made our decent into Chicago, and landed, taxing to our gate in the regional G terminal.
Some things worth noting about this particular plane, and flight:
- As I said, i much prefer the bulkhead seats than the exit rows, since I don’t feel that they have anymore legroom.
- Overhead storage is very limited, and other than a small backpack or briefcase, you’ll be forced to gate check your bag.
- Flights from CHO to ORD and LGA are fully catered with alcohol and a standard buy-on-board non-perishable snack selection. Interestingly, on my return flight, the flight attendant offered snacks to all “Platinums and above” as well as passengers on any connecting First or Business itinerary, which I thought was really odd.
- The seats on this aircraft don’t have movable headrests, and seat recline is fairly limited, so if you’re looking for a comfortable seat, this isn’t necessarily the aircraft you’ll get it on.
It seems to me that the flight loads here are enough to warrant a slightly larger plane, perhaps a CRJ-700 with a First Class cabin, though I made have hit it on some off days with good capacity.
Charlottesville is a good airport, but with only regional service, it’s not on my favorite list. In a pinch, or in the area, it’s convenient for making connections in LGA or ORD, and I’d certainly fly out of there again.
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