Despite the FAA order to ground all 737 MAX aircraft, FlyerTalkers are still seeing the aircraft pop up in their itineraries. Will they actually be flying aboard the troubled aircraft, or are they quietly being swapped out for others in airlines’ fleets?
After massive public and international pressure, the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft was grounded almost worldwide by March 12, 2019. In the United States, an executive order took the aircraft out of service for the foreseeable future – but that’s not stopping airlines from keeping it in their fleet listing.
All three domestic operators of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft – American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines – are complying with the order, but flyers are still seeing the aircraft in future itineraries
Should passengers be worried that their trips could be canceled by the grounding, or that the aircraft could pose a danger to the public?
In the near term, the American operators are adjusting schedules to reduce operational issues and keep passengers moving. Southwest, which operates the largest fleet of 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the United States, said in a statement the grounded operations account “for less than five percent of [their] daily flights.” With 34 aircraft unavailable, the Dallas-based carrier is planning to use “every available aircraft in [their] fleet to meet our Customers’ expectations during the busy spring travel season.” Anyone booked on a canceled MAX 8 flight can change their fights within 14 days of their original travel date without penalty.
Across town, American said in a statement they operate “85 flights per day on the MAX 8, out of 6,700 departures throughout the American Airlines system.” While the airline is working to adjust its schedule to limit disruption, passengers are allowed to rebook canceled flights without penalty or request a full refund by visiting their website.
While United does not use the 737 MAX 8 but the larger MAX 9 instead, they are temporarily unavailable for use under the ground order. According to the Chicago-based airline, their 14 aircraft account for “roughly 40 flights per day.” In their statement, the carrier claimed they are not planning for “a significant operational impact as a result of this order,” but will work directly with customers who are affected by any cancellations.
Those who were scheduled to take a trip on the 737 MAX series aircraft are starting to notice subtle changes to their aircraft types and schedules. At our forums, flyers have noticed that while the United website still shows the MAX 9 operating flights, the seat maps are those of other airframes, including the 737-800 variant. Experienced United flyers say this is a usual course of action.
But once the ground orders are lifted, will passengers once again feel comfortable aboard the 737 MAX? Both American and Southwest are expressing their support behind the airframe. Stats released by both airlines suggest their flights have exceeded a combined total of over 120,000 flight hours across more than 50,000 flights. But FlyerTalkers are having mixed reactions about the future relaunch of 737 MAX aircraft across the country.
“Seeing two major crashes on a new aircraft within months of each other make me think something’s wrong. This is particularly true when you consider how rare it is nowadays to see loss of life accidents like this,” writes sullim4 in the forums, prefacing his comments by saying his opinion is that of a layman. “It’s enough to make me avoid the aircraft when I book.”
We want to hear your opinion – share your thoughts in the FlyerTalk forums!
[Image Source: Wikimedia/Steve Lynes]