The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) 737 Max 8 is back in the air after being pulled from service due to the fatal crashes of a Lion Air flight on October 29, 2018, that killed 189 people and an Ethiopian Air flight on March 10, 2019, that killed 157. The plane had to go through modifications to be reapproved for commercial use by the FAA and similar authorities across several nations. Many travelers are worried enough about the plane’s track record that they want to avoid flying on one. There are several ways to travel while avoiding the 737 Max 8.
American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) is the first airline to put the 737 Max 8 back in service. Clearly, the carrier knows that some travelers will stay away from the plane. American said: “If a customer doesn’t want to fly on a 737 MAX aircraft, they won’t have to.” American will allow customers to move to other aircraft without a charge for changing tickets.
Some travel and consumer media have offered lists of ways to avoid the 737 Max 8 ahead of the flights. 24/7 Wall St. has collected them here.
ecoXplorer suggests that several websites allow people to identify which planes are used on which routes. FlightRadar24, FlightStats.com and SeatGuru.com have features in their apps to make this identification. Additionally, airline apps allow people to identify the exact aircraft used on most routes. ecoXplorer points out that sometimes the carriers change planes, so this method is not foolproof.
FlightRights.org points out that the use of a travel agent will not allow people to screen for which aircraft are used on which routes, and therefore they are to be avoided by people who want to stay off a 737 Max 8. The organization claims that the best way to identify the aircraft is via carrier websites. While travelers may be given a period to rebook, at some point many could be charged a $200 change fee. The organization says, tongue in cheek, that, “Yes, this type of profiteering ushers in new level of airline nickel and diming – paying a fee for not being willing to die in a crash.”
Finally, Business Insider reports that four carriers will return to use of the Boeing 737 Max 8 early next year. Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines will join American. Business Insider has a carrier-by-carrier description of what fliers can do to avoid the plane on each of these carriers.
None of the research on how many travelers will avoid the Boeing 737 Max 8 is definitive. Yet, the number of reluctant travelers is large enough that carriers already have anticipated it.
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