Well, I've been flying down here for a number of years, the only time I saw alterantes for "hundreds of miles" wiped out was do to fog in February. At that time we had to use MEM as our alternate for TLH, yes we did have to kick people off, but so were DC-9s flying down in the Southeast, that much distance was requiring everyone to do so, but that has been it so far.
Impossible to happen, no, probably going to happen, doubtful. Otherwise the Saab would be unusable down here, as a 200 mile alternate would require an hour diverson. Plus all my flights down from Chicago to Florida, in July and August, with a Baron would have been impossible too, and that has half the range of the CRJ. Most of my alternates down here have been around 20 or so minutes in a Saab, at that point the CRJ and Saab would take about the same time to fly, so close.
As for contigency fuel, we don't have to carry it, we do sometimes, if we think it'll require large deviations from our destitantion, usually when we have to skirt around storms in the Saab we do it towards our destination, but OK lets go back to the original scenerio I gave. I had 2500 pounds down fro an alternate, thats about an 1 hour and 10 minutes, actually a little bit more, if you have an alternate say 200 miles away you say 300 knots to be very conservative, that is just under 40 minutes of flight time. That leaves about 30 minutes of conigency.
Are there situations that would require bumping people, the answer is yes of course. If a tropical storm was sitting there then people would have to go, major alternate requirement there. A large front, had one once where I had to go from memphis to west of Mobile before swinging east to go to my favorite TLH again. All my major weather stories involve TLH, don't know why, HA.
I'm talking about the norm though, with that case the plane will do it fine. Besides, if it is running 100% loads, we won't have it very long. Probably go to a A319 then, as the DC-9 has less range and if you list an alternate it would almost always be leaving people behind. One of the reasons a lot of NWA pilots are angry at us is do to the range of the CRJ,since longer then a -9 they want to know what's regional about it, but another argument.
I've been bumped off of A320s that were no where near there full, just do to the high fuel loads they had to take restrictions. As was stated the Avro with Mesba can, as it already has 16 people bumped.
As IAHERJ has also stated we do everything we can to get as many people on board. As a dispatcher I'm sure you've seen or haerd of this, especially if you do so for a commuter. No one likes to leave anyone behind if there is a way around it.
Also with 50 people, I have always seen children. 2000 pounds is a heavy baggage load. Although, we did have 3100 pounds once with only 35 or so people, missionary group coming back from 2 months in Asia. Now that was fun, HA. That also makes me wonder about the 3500 pound limit, as with the 3100 pounds it was so tight they could barely close the door, and we took as many light bags as possible in the overheads.
Is this pushing the max range of a CRJ, with high loads the answer is an obvious yes. Will it cause major headaches or problems, I don't forsee it. A number said we would with our other long range flights, they never were. Again we will see, if they are always bumping people, I will be wrong and you will be right, but in that case the route must be doing great and its just a matter of time before big NWA takes over it.