Contour Airlines Review: Ticketed by American A Strange Saga To Owensboro Ky 2024

The image shows a Contour Airlines jet parked at an airport gate. The aircraft is white with blue accents and the word "CONTOUR" written in large blue letters on the side. The tail of the plane features a blue design with a circular logo. The scene is wet, indicating recent rain, and there are various ground service equipment and personnel around the plane. In the background, other aircraft from different airlines are visible on the tarmac. The sky is overcast, contributing to the overall gray and rainy atmosphere.

In this Contour Airlines review let’s explore how I booked this ticket, what it was like flying Contour , what are some of the differences between this ticket and a regular AA ticket? This was a fun flight to do and I’m excited to share it with you!

I had to get to Evansville, IN on short notice from Seattle, WA. My usual choice on American was a lot more expensive so instead I flew Contour Airlines (LF) to Owensboro, KY (OWB) (only 40 mins or so from Evansville). The ticket difference was large enough to justify even though it required an overnight layover in Chicago.

This post may contain affiliate links. Clicking on my affiliate links will earn me a small commission, and you may have a special offer. It’s a win/win! I only promote products I genuinely believe in. Please see the disclosure page for more information.

Chicago Flights Background

When American Airlines suspended than later terminated the Evansville to Chicago (ORD) route the flying community was disappointed as made it a lot harder to travel INTL & to other parts of the country. The flight was terminated due to the pandemic and then subsequently the pilot shortage. UPDATE As I was writing this flight review American announced Evansville to Chicago will be coming back!

By sheer luck Owensboro’s Essential Air Service (EAS) grant was up for renewal at first Contour Airlines offered flights to Charlotte (CLT).

Owensboro Airport (OWB) & Contour revaulated then decided to switch the flight to Chicago O’Hare which the Department Of Transportation approved. When I heard the region was getting a Chicago flight I wanted to try it to do a Contour Airlines review.

American Booking Process

The downside of booking this itinerary is that it results in an overnight layover in Chicago, because at the time of this trip Seattle only had one flight on American to Chicago O’Hare (Delta & Alaska have several to Chicago, unfortunately, you can’t book them under the same itinerary). To put things in perspective flying to OWB staying the night, was still cheaper than flying to Evansville on the same day. Evansville, can get very expensive especially last minute.

I wanted to book my ticket on one itinerary to receive my elite status American benefits. The other advantage is so I was protected in case the first flight gets delayed or cancelled. Generally if flights are booked on a separate itinerary you’re not protected. You may have to buy a whole new ticket to get to your final destination.

I booked my ticket through, you can also book this ticket through Contour’s website also allows you to book interline tickets please keep in mind cheaper itineraries may not be available.

Flight Plan / Routing

Seattle (SEA) – Chicago (ORD) – Owensboro (OWB)

Summarized American Airlines Seattle – Chicago (ORD)

I’ve written a review over American Boeing 737-800 in the exit row instead I will summarize the first leg of the trip. Please feel free to use the table of contents above to skip down to the Contour Airlines review section.

On the morning of the flight I woke up to see my phone showing a flight delay notification. The flight was delayed due to weather. Fortunately, the delay was only 30 mins and the Contour flight didn’t leave until the next day.

a screen with text and numbers on it
20 min delay on AA 2298 to Chicago

I made it to the airport, went to check-in, where unfortunately I was told my bags would not be checked in all the way to OWB instead I would have to pick the bags up in Chicago & recheck them in with Contour.

I wish American would have made rechecking in clear at time of booking, but I was happy about it as that meant I had my bags for the overnight layover. I initially thought American and Contour have some type of partnership, apparently American doesn’t even list Contour as a partner for codeshare, interlining….. that explains a lot actually… I’ll explain what I mean as we go through the flight review.


I had noticed a few changes on American, but I’ll cover those in another flight review. The flight was mostly uneventful despite the initial excitement due to the weather delay the pilots made up time and we arrived ahead of schedule in Chicago.

a desk in a airport

Overnight Chicago Connection

a plane parked at an airport
My Boeing 737-800 Freezing on a cold April night In Chicago

After spending the night, and doing some errands around Chicago. I was ready to head down to Owensboro, KY. I decided not to bother doing online check in with Contour Airlines website since I had to check in bags.

Contour Airlines Review

The danger with small or new airlines is not many people know about them which makes for interesting reactions.

When I told the shuttle driver I wanted to be dropped of at Contour he looked at me with a strange face.

I then proceeded to say please take me to American Airlines Terminal 3 & he was like oh I know where that is.

We soon arrived at Terminal 3, I began searching for the check in counter. Using the signage I went to the end of the terminal:

a sign from a ceiling

Contour: We have moved check in desks to E

a sign on a counter

I proceeded with all my stuff to the counters by Spirit. Guess what? They moved it again…

a sign with a logo on it
It looks American is handling Contour & playing musical check in desks

Like a Fedex delivery truck I made my way over to the counters all the way on the other end of the terminal.

a blue banner with white text
Contour Banner covering up American logo

To my surprise American Airlines was handling Contour. AA staff still charged me $25 to check my bag in. They told me since Contour is separate airline they couldn’t waive the $25. I wasn’t thrilled but $25 is cheaper than the AA baggage fee of $40 (at airport) $35 (online). Unforuatnely status benefits do not transfer even though I had booked the ticket on American.

After checking in the bags I made it through security and airside. This is often my favorite part of the journey.

One thing I like to do is look at the airport screens in case of gate changes, delays, etc.

To my surprise non American Airlines flights were displayed on the screen! It was nice to see American finally add their partner flights to the flight information display. When I flew Alaska last summer, my Alaska flight was not on the flight board.

a sign with an airport departures list

I made my way to Concourse G where American Eagle & Contour Airlines flights depart from.

a group of people walking in a large airport

American has an Admiral Club in Concourse G. Even though I was flying Contour I was able to access Admirals club using my AA boarding pass from the day before.

a white wall with black text on it
Chicago ORD Admiral Club

While waiting in the lounge I noticed something strange when comparing FlightRadar24 & the flight information display.

a screenshot of an airplane
a close up of a flight schedule

Flightradar24 was showing N258PS as our plane to OWB which was parked at G15, but the airport screens indicated that G13 was our gate. As a rule I always rely on official airline & airport systems as final confirmation regarding flight status. I thought that was interesting I wonder if they swapped the planes without telling anyone about it. Keep this in mind as we make our way to the gate.

Contour flights depart from the basement of Concourse G. In the basement of Concourse G this older American Eagle logo brings back so many memories. At various legacy American Airline hubs If you look closely you can still see their old logos from time to time.

a floor with a logo on it

When I got to the gate the flight was already boarding. I made my way through the jetway to the aircraft after dropping off my carryon for valet check. This is usually standard on domestic flights.

a screen with a picture of a plane
Very Strange to see Contour & Owensboro on an American Airlines gate sign. Notice Contour gates assignment

a plane on the runway
Maybe this is our plane to Owensboro?


I was greeted warmly by the flight attendant and immediately noticed the unusual configuration. Seats were removed from this plane and every row had miles of legroom.

a seat in an airplane

The legroom was the highlight flying on a CRJ 200. I never thought I would say that about a CRJ 200 given their reputation of being a cramped plane to fly on.

two seats in an airplane

I sat down and we waited for the flight to commence. After a short time….


The pilot came out and said (paraphrased) “Ladies & Gentleman I’m sorry to say your on the wrong plane. This plane is going to Kirksville, MO”

“This plane is not going to Owensboro, KY please take all your belongings your bags will be transfered to the correct aircraft.”

We gathered our things and went back into the terminal

a blue trash can in a hallway

Once I got back to the terminal it was pure chaos in the terminal. No one really knew what was going on.

The reason for the silence became clear the agents were concerned about facing disciplinary action for the mixup. For the purposes of the contour airlines review I want to make clear the customer service agents were from American Airlines not Contour. I’m not sure if the mixup occurred on American’s end or if it was a problem on Contour’s end.

I was not upset about the mixup or delay as I got to see two cabins for the price of one airplane ticket :).

Let’s try this again

After things settled down in the terminal we boarded the correct plane. One on board the crew was apologetic for the delay, & mixup. They were in great mood all things considered.

a machine on the ground

Contour Airlines Review Flight Info

Flight No: Contour Airlines LF 3096

Route: Chicago (ORD)  —  Owensboro (OWB)

Plane: CRJ – 200

Registration: N258PS

Flight Time: 50 mins

The delay was not a big deal as the flight time is relatively quick at about 50 mins flying time. This flight time is about the same as ORD to Evansville. By car this trip would take around 6 to 7 hours depending on traffic, speed & etc. It is certainly nice to have the flying option to that part of the country.

The doors closed at about 40 mins behind schedule, the pilot informed us we would have a long taxi due to congestion.

an airplane on the runway

Scheduled Departure: 5:00 pm

LF/BTS Departure: 5:40 pm

All times in local time zone

BTS stands for Bureau of Transportation statistics; their definition is used in most airlines apps in the USA to measure applicable times for airline operations & tracking.

airplanes on a runway

While taxiing to the runway I saw several Contour Airlines planes, it was a strange feeling given not to long ago American Eagle had multiple flights to small cities around the midwest.


Let’s kick start this Contour Airlines review with an overview of the service on Contour Airlines.

an airplane wing above the clouds
Unfortunately the window was rather scratched up

Amenities, Seat, & Random Wi-Fi pricing

rows of seats in an airplane

CRJ is outfitted with a lot less seats than “normal” CRJ-200 thus Contour’s CRJ-200 are more spacious than other airline CRJ 200s. The plane is equipped in the stand 2-2 configuration. Contour seems to running two different seat configurations N258PS had seats that were closer together than the other aircraft I was on.

The legroom was easily the best aspect of the seat, the padding, recline, & width were standard for the CRJ 200. If seated on a window seat on the CRJ 200 the window is below eye level.

The plane is not outfitted with Wi-Fi. Few regional planes of similar size have Wi-Fi equipped – comparing the ERJ 145 & CRJ 200 (this plane). Given the short the flights Wi-Fi is not a deal breaker, but for the business traveler I can see it being a problem.

Most of Contour’s CRJs are from regional airlines such as Skywest, & Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA). N258PS is formerly American Eagle. I’ve flown in this particular plane when it operated as American Eagle operated by PSA. Contour has elected to keep the same seats.

a row of seats in an airplane


a napkin and a drink on a table

Can test failed for this Contour Airlines review —  I use this as a service metric flight review, to compare different airlines. The service though is better than what United Express would provide on ORD EVV — just a glass of water…

We were provided a snack. Contrary to the napkin:

a napkin and a bag of pretzels

I was not grinning at their service it’s standard compared to other major US airlines. For the sake of this Contour Airlines review the snack mix size is bigger than other airlines.

Before long we were making our initial descent into cold & rainy Owensboro, KY. During the flight the Contour pilots flew the CRJ-200 like a race car.

clouds and a city

Arrival Into Owensboro

Once the plane arrived at the gate – 2 mins ahead of schedule, I was quickly reminded at how small Owensboro airport is. The sole ground crew member unloaded our bags first from the cargo hold so we would not have to stand in the rain. I thought that was very a nice touch.

a building with orange cones

Scheduled Arrival: 6:30 pm

LF/BTS Arrival: 6:28 pm

All times in local time zone

a plane on the tarmac

Owensboro Airport was very fast at delivering the bags from plane to arrivals I was out in record speed about 5 mins.

I was curious if AA would credit ORD – OWB leg. Unfortunately, AA did not credit for the ORD – OWB leg. This makes sense as Contour is not a codeshare partner I’ll explain why below.

Contour Airlines Review Conclusion

I feel very mixed about this trip, concluding Contour Airlines review will be a bit different than usual.

I booked this ticket through AA I will highlight below what my thoughts are regarding AA & Contour integration below. I feel the journey was unnecessarily longer than it needed to be with the overnight layover & subpar ticket integration.

Would I fly American & Contour on the same ticket again?

Yes only if the price difference between Contour & American is large. I’m quite hesitant in recommending buying an American Airlines & Contour flight on the same ticket. The unusual arrangement between American & Contour leaves a quite poor customer experience from the lack of being able to check bags all the way through to the final destination to not being able to access the lounge, inconsistent perks throughout the journey, lack of AA crediting the Contour flight, & the treasure hunt for the check in desk.

I wish American & Contour would work together to improve the passenger experience. The ability to purchase tickets to small cities should not be understated as it can be very difficult to get to rural areas of the country cost effectively. For the purposes of the contour airlines review I will share my thoughts below about exclusively flying Contour.

Would I fly Contour Airlines to Owensboro Again?

I would recommend flying Contour Airlines independently without AA on the same ticket, I find Contour Airlines’ service, staff to be great. With the added benefit that the plane is far more comfortable than other airlines. Depending on the air fare purchased Contour Airlines also provides a free checked bag & cabin bag.

In conclusion for this Contour Airlines review, As I said above plane mixup seems like an honest mistake, luckily someone spoke up, and we got to our destination. I would not hesitate to book a round trip exclusively on Contour Airlines. The value for money & service is a great deal when comparing other options to travel from small airports to bigger cities.

Final Thoughts & Analysis

It’s interesting to see a creative approach in the industry where two airlines work together to provide more service in light of the pilot shortage around the country. American Airlines & Contour have an interesting arrangement, American provides support, while Contour provides the plane & crew. Contour operates these flights under FAA 135 regulation. The FAA regulations are beyond the scope of the contour airlines review, but in short 135 regulates air taxi, & charter flights while part 121 regulates airlines like American, Delta, & United.

This is purely speculation but I suspect part 135 has much lower costs than part 121. To comply with these regulations Contour has to remove seats. The benefit passengers get more legroom, EAS routes generally have light flight loads anyway so the plane is lighter, contour saves on fuel. I also suspect since Contour is operating the flights under part 121, so that might explain why American & Contour do not have a codeshare agreement.

The one thing I have against this is how American is hypocrite, AA is against JSX which operates under part 135 the same regulation as Contour. Overall though I like the approach American & Contour have taken as I said before if they can iron out operational and passenger experience this would be a very effective way to serve small cities. I hope you have enjoyed this contour airlines review.

Key Takeaways

  • As a passenger you may get one free checked bag and one carry on Contour Airlines.
  • If possible, booking flights on the same PNR is advised
  • Check official airline systems for final confirmation on flight status.
  • Contour Airline planes may not come with Wi-Fi
  • Contour provides comparable inflight service to airlines
  • American & Contour are not codeshare partners AA may not count the Contour segment towards status or reward miles.
  • Contour flights maybe operating on EAS which may result in cheaper airfare.

All content & images property of Nerd Ka Travel. Please contact us if you would like to use them.

Scroll to Top