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What Is a Puddle Jumper?

Puddle jumpers are smaller planes with fewer seats than traditional jets.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2014
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Puddle jumpers are small planes that are often used for flight connections involving small airports located within a reasonable distance from a larger airport that serves as a hub for a given airline. Small passenger planes of this type are ideal when there is not enough demand for larger flights to and from the outlying area. A typical puddle jumper is likely to seat anywhere from six to twenty passengers.

While there are puddle jumper airlines that offer limited routes to nearby localities, the most common use of a puddle jumper plane is to shuttle passengers to and from a larger airport. The shuttle planes usually run connecting flights to and from the smaller airport to a large air terminal used by the airline as a hub location. From this hub, passengers are able to board a connecting flight that will take them to another major airport as the next leg of their journey.

While puddle jumper planes are perfectly safe, the passenger experience is very different from traveling in a large airliner. The smallest of these types of planes have no barrier between the pilot and the passengers, a fact that some people find unnerving. The smaller plane also tends to provide a rougher journey, as the impact with air pockets or inclement weather have more of an effect on the shuttle plane than they do on the larger liners. This means passengers tend to be jostled around more on a puddle jumper than on larger planes.

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The smaller cabin size of a puddle jumper airplane also means there is less room for carry-on luggage, since the overhead compartments are usually no more than two thirds the size of compartments found on larger planes. With some designs, overhead storage is not included at all, meaning the passenger is left to stow his or her shoulder bag and coat under the seat.

Seating is also more cramped in a puddle jumper. Along with slightly smaller seats, leg room is often at a premium, even near emergency exits. For individuals that are somewhat taller than average height, spending more than an hour on one of these shuttle flights can be extremely uncomfortable. The small cabin size sometimes leads big and tall travelers to forego the connecting flight to an outlying city, choosing to either take a train, bus or rent a car in order to complete the last leg of the journey.

Since the puddle jumper is normally used for flights that take no more than an hour to complete, relatively few amenities are provided. If there is time, passengers may be offered a beverage, but it is highly unusual for any type of food to be included in short flights. In-flight music may be provided along with headphones, although this is not always the case. Few puddle jumper flights have the space to provide any type of visual entertainment such as a movie or even an episode of a television show.

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