Scared of boarding the Boeing 737 Max? Southwest will allow flyers to switch planes for free

May 28, 2019

Although Boeing may have completed the requisite fixes to its 737 Max by the end of June, many flyers have “reservations” about boarding those flights. Now, Southwest Airlines has announced that they won’t have to fight to switch.

Indeed, Southwest’s Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Green says they shouldn’t have to worry: “If they’re uneasy about flying on a Max aircraft, we’ll be flexible with them,” he told CNBC. “We’ll be understanding of that and allow them to fly on a different flight without paying any difference in fare.”

The Dallas, Texas-based low-cost carrier does not charge passengers a fee to change their tickets, but it does charge customers the difference in airfare. But in the case of concerns around the Max, an exception will be made.

All 371 Boeing 737 Max airliners in service worldwide have been grounded since March 13 following the crashes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 and Lion Air Flight JT610.

Southwest Airlines is the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 737 Max, with a fleet of 34 aircraft. All 34 planes, which are currently in desert storage in Victorville, California, have been pulled from the flight schedule until at least August 5. However, in a recent statement, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said that the company does not have a confirmed timeline for the 737 Max aircraft to return to service.

Kelly said, “We simply don’t have a confirmed timeline to share with regard to when the MAX will return to service. There have been dates ranging from May to July depending on who is commenting. We have our schedule adjusted through August 5th, and if the aircraft are available to fly earlier, we will use them as additional spares to further enhance the reliability of our scheduled service.

“We remain in constant contact with the FAA, Boeing, and industry regulators, as well as our Employee Unions and industry peers, to prepare for implementation of software updates and additional training that Boeing and the FAA will provide to all operators worldwide,” Kelly continued, adding, “These enhancements will further advance the safe operation of the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft and add yet another layer of Safety, and I am incredibly encouraged by the path forward. I have the utmost confidence in our People, procedures, airplanes, training, maintenance, and performance monitoring systems, enhanced by our data-focused Safety Management System.”

However, according to research conducted by Business Insider, many travelers are anxious. . A poll conducted by the news outlet a week after the Ethiopian Airlines crash showed that 53% of American adults surveyed would not want to fly on a Boeing 737 Max—even after the FAA clears the aircraft for service.

Research contact: @SouthwestAir

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