American Puts 737 MAX Flights Back On Sale

Filed Under: American

It looks increasingly likely that the 737 MAX will be flying passengers again within a couple of months, and American has now added the plane back to its schedule in a somewhat surprising way.

The 737 MAX is nearing regulatory approval

The 737 MAX has been grounded globally since March 2019, following two fatal crashes that killed nearly 350 people. Over the past 18+ months, Boeing has been working with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make changes to the plane that will allow it to once again be certified, and safely carry passengers.

This task is nearly complete. The head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has stated he’s satisfied with the changes that Boeing has made, and it’s expected that the 737 MAX will get similar approval in the US soon.

While the exact date that the 737 MAX will be able to return to service is a moving target, airlines are starting to plan for that process.

The 737 MAX will be making a return to service soon

American plans to resume 737 MAX flights this year

American Airlines has just scheduled its first 737 MAX flights for when the plane returns to service. While it’s possible that the timeline could slip, this is being done so that crews can start bidding on schedules, pilots can start being scheduled for simulator training, etc.

Here’s American’s strategy for bringing the 737 MAX back into service, which isn’t exactly what I would have expected:

  • American first completely removed the 737 MAX from the schedule, even 11 months out (the airline previously kept the plane in the schedule far in advance, and then removed it as the travel date neared)
  • American has scheduled the 737 MAX once daily between Miami and New York LaGuardia, but only between December 29, 2020, and January 4, 2021
  • The schedule change was loaded overnight, so customers can now book these flights
  • American seems pretty committed to not having the plane enter service with passengers before December 29, and similarly, won’t schedule any 737 MAX flights for after January 4

Here’s the specific frequency that’s getting the 737 MAX 8 on the above days:

AA718 Miami to New York departing 10:32AM arriving 1:30PM
AA718 New York to Miami departing 2:30PM arriving 5:44PM

American’s 737 MAX may return before the end of the year

American won’t rebook passengers on the 737 MAX

There have been lots of questions about whether airlines will inform passengers they’re booked on the 737 MAX. After all, many people may not feel comfortable flying on the plane, so how will airlines handle that?

Here’s American’s approach:

  • The 737 MAX on the above route has replaced an existing plane, but customers who were booked on those services will automatically be accommodated on other flights, and won’t automatically be rebooked on the 737 MAX
  • In other words, American is proactively helping customers avoid the 737 MAX, so you’ll only be booked on a 737 MAX if you specifically want to be

American will avoid rebooking people on the 737 MAX

Frankly this seems like a delicate balance, and I don’t envy the situation airlines are in:

  • On one end of the spectrum, airlines could just pretend that the 737 MAX doesn’t exist, and is the same as any other 737; we’re seeing the plane essentially rebranded as the 737-8, and I’m sure many airlines will take the approach of providing passengers with no warning
  • On the other end of the spectrum, airlines could literally warn passengers that they’re booked on this plane, but at that point one has to wonder if they’re almost creating fear that shouldn’t exist

How far should 737 MAX disclosures from airlines go? Is listing the aircraft type as “737 MAX” enough? Should the aircraft type have to be listed in a different font to make it more obvious? Should airlines have a screen whereby passengers have to acknowledge that they understand they’re booking a 737 MAX?

As I’ve said before, while I’ve lost a lot of respect for Boeing and the FAA throughout this process, I’d have no qualms flying the plane again once it’s certified by multiple international aviation safety agencies. It’s not like this plane is being rushed back into service, and by all accounts it seems that the necessary fixes have been made.

Understandably some people are still concerned, so opinions will differ of how much disclosure there should be.

Now that the 737 MAX has been loaded back into the schedule for American, it’s worth noting that not a whole lot has changed in terms of disclosure to passengers. The airline doesn’t try to hide that the plane is a “MAX,” but also doesn’t highlight it in any more obvious of a way then it did for other aircraft types.

American has loaded the 737 MAX back into the schedule

Bottom line

American has scheduled the 737 MAX between Miami and New York over the New Year, which will represent the airline easing the plane back into service. As of now the airline isn’t scheduling the 737 MAX on any other flights.

It’s interesting to me that American is specifically avoiding rebooking people on 737 MAX aircraft. Beyond that, though, there’s no additional warning or notice about booking the MAX.

What do you make of American’s approach to bringing back the 737 MAX?

Comments
  1. @Matt I don’t blame you. Personally, I’m going aim for at least a year and a half (possibly 2 years) before flying on a Max again. The first Max crash occurred a year and 5 months after it entered service in May 2017; hopefully, any further kinks in the system are smoothed out by then.

    Also, is it too soon to say that Boeing has had their ups and downs over the last 2 years? lol

  2. As Boeing hasn’t fixed the design flaws of the MAX, I wouldn’t want to fly with it ever again. I value my life and that if my loved ones too much.

  3. @Mark, no Change Fees, but fare differences will still be in play. Will airlines price Max flights at a discount, effectively making customers pay higher for other planes and what should that premium be?

  4. why would this be the route that American chooses?? SO STUPID. Its one of the most highly trafficked route.

    And what about all those extra planes they have sitting around in Pittsburgh? why not use those

  5. I’m not worried about it, AA made the decision easy. Really, you gotta love that AA specially put its most garbage interior (Oasis, Kodiak, whatever lipstick their calling it) in what have become $120 million tin can pieces of junk aircraft. In doing that, I choose to avoid the max entirely since I know the torture that awaits inside if I chose to take a flight operated by one.

    But that’s just me.

  6. I’m assuming they have it on such limited routes for a variety of reason – pilot training, public confidence, etc.

  7. Smart way:
    Change all 737MAX flights by 5 minutes and give people the opportunity to ask for a free rebooking because of the schedule change, not because of the aircraft.
    That way airlines are not causing any further fear but also make customers happy.

  8. I blame Boeing all the way but no doubt better training would have avoided both crashes. You are 110% safe here

  9. Cant wait to fly the Max again on southwest, it was a real joy, passengers loved it. Not southwest’s fault that low cost asian airliners didnt employ real pilots. As for AA i will avoid it because of the oasis seating, and flying out of DFW most routes has a321s with ridiculously huge exit rows with IFEs that are enjoyable to fly. The problem is with the airliners and the pilots lack of qualifications not the design, more scared about my Uber driver getting me to the airport than flying a max on an american carrier.

  10. This is going to be the safest plane in the sky after all the redundancies and testing have been applied. Also, with the new Boeing plane cancelled or delayed until God knows when, a lot of those are going to be flying longer… or, of course, Airbus will eat Boeing’s meal and dwarf it on the single aisle market.

    My only reason to avoid the AA version of it is the crappy interior. That won’t change.

  11. AA doesn’t NEED to put the 737 MAX into service, but they are still doing it because now they can tell everyone how the MAX has flown without issues once the industry recovers in a few years.

    That said, the interior is still garbage so I’m not flying that regardless of whether it’s safe or not.

  12. Wonder how many of these same “it’s a design flaw” and “I’ll never get on the plane” etc folks like to make fun of the rube Trump supporters and tell them to “listen to the scientists?”

  13. I’ll get on it. Really you are still far, far, far more at risk with the drive to and from the airport. Why adults can’t think rationally is beyond me. Shooting heroin into your arm, stupid and very risky. Getting on a Max 8 (after endless testing) very, very, very, very low risk.

    Now if your stuck back in Y- that’s another story.

  14. “Should airlines have a screen whereby passengers have to acknowledge that they understand they’re booking a 737 MAX?”

    Sounds fine in theory but in practice I can see that being used against passengers families whem something goes wrong and the lawyers start denying compensation etc because they ticked the box.

    Plus do people really read those boxes and just click the correct button to make them go away?

  15. The seating on AA’s MAX is gut busting in the worst way and the lavatories are the size of a penny … never again.

  16. I don’t understand. AA is going to bring back the 737MAX into service by flying it on one flight a day for 7 days? That’s it? Then what?

  17. “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.” They referred to its “piss poor design” and urged: “Let’s just patch the leaky boat”
    Boeing screwed the pooch on this one.
    Nope!

  18. The very basic design flaws of the 737Max have not been addressed. But the software that should help to keep the poorly designed plane from crashing has been improved and Boeing after having been forced to disclose that such a software exists has hopefully trained pilots how to handle it should it malfunction the next time.

    Sorry, that’s not good enough for me.

  19. Those who claim to never set foot on the Max again, how many aircrafts have been completely free from any designer or manufacturing flaws? I agree that Boeing messed up big time on this one, and that they may have some work to do to improve their corporate safety culture. But after more scrutiny than probably any other aircraft and with the world watching more closely than ever before, they seem to have now got it together to at least bring it up to par with all the rest, and aren’t any less safe than other 737s. Otherwise, we might as well take all Airbus, Boeing etc., planes out of service too. They may not have that specific flaw, but they have all dealt with issues in their lifespan, like the A320 control input design flaw when it was launched. It took a crash to fix that issue, but no one seem to have any issues with that particular plane even after. I remember older Boeing 737s had a flaw in their rudder system which took several crashes and years to work out, but they did, and people still fly it. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Even if Boeing hadn’t fixed their Max, the odds of dying in one are extremely small in the bigger perspective, and there needs to be a very specific set of circumstances for the situation to arise in the first place. There is no plane, and will never be, that is 100% foolproof. Issues will always come up, some minor, some major. That’s where a combination of redundancies in systems, crew expertise, experience and teamwork come into play, from us pilots to the cabin crew, ATC, medics, fire fighters, ground staff, operations and company support. To simply discard the plane blankly and frankly somewhat blindly, and to think it needs to be 100% straight out of the hangar is just not the way anything works. There will always be improvements to make, and that goes for literally everything. Unless you fully understand how aircrafts work (not just the machine itself, but the processes behind it) and have in-depth knowledge about the Max and the accidents that you gained from other sources than the public media, you’re probably not in a position to really determine if the Max are safe to fly or not. Anyone can have an opinion of course, and anyone can decide for themselves if they want to fly that particular plane. But that decision should be based on the hard facts and complete and actual understanding of it and not the emotion behind it. Because then you might not want to get on any other plane either, none are 100% safe. It’s like I tell my kids, fear is a great tool, but ultimately to think with their brains and not their hearts. But what do I know… I ‘ve only flown commercial jets for gosh too many years (even though they’ve all been Airbus), and of course, I could be wrong about all this too. Perhaps they’ve just masked the problem or mutated it to something new. Only time will tell…

  20. Flew on the 737-MAX between MIA and LGA about six weeks before the plane was grounded in 2019. It is a miserable aircraft as much inside as it is likely unsafe to fly. I will be avoiding it. Believe there are design flaws with the weight of the engines and other issues and I don’t trust Boeing or the FAA.

  21. Lucky, you’re contradicting yourself. in big bold you say “american wont rebook passengers on the 737 max” then below that you say they will be rebooked….so…..which one is it?

    and for me, im never stepping foot on that garbage plane.

  22. I wouldn’t say the “the necessary fixes have been made”, but rather “the workarounds to accommodate a 50+ year old design have been put into place”. After all, these are not fixes that Boeing has done to this old design, but rather workarounds. This was a great aircraft in the original form but has simply been pushed too far. Considering the profit first approach and lack of quality coming out of Boeing, I’m definitely not comfortable getting on any modern Boeing these days. They just cannot be trusted.

  23. I am firmly in the I won’t put a foot on this thing camp. I’d rather be on a 30 year old A320 than a brand new Max. It’s not the 50’s anymore, we shouldn’t have to wait a few years to see if it crashes again before taking the plunge. No matter how much work has been done since the last crash, the design flaws remain and this thing should have been killed when they had the chance.

  24. I will be honored to fly the 737 Max. Sadly tragedy before has made the revised version a much better plane. The plane is so much safer and over-engineered because of the tragedy. Also, American Airlines pilot’s standards and professionalism are far superior to some of the nonmajor international carriers out there. The 737 max was flown extensively, and did American Airlines have any issue with the planes before the Tragetys? No. Because American Airlines pilots are highly trained and extremely competent. So it’s a combination. Great pilots and a great plane and a Great Airline. Do you think a pilot would fly the plane if they thought it was not airworthy this time around? Well, then that should answer your question.

  25. I hate the max crappy 1st class seats and the AA crappy service.

    But I trust AA pilots and would have no problem flying this plane again — I did it several times before it went away.

  26. The airlines should add a disclaimer while issuing tickets for a flight on the 737 Max 8 and get a tick box click with terms and conditions stating the Pax is accepting out of his own will and knowledge that he agrees to fly the said aircraft on this e ticket and he or his emergency contact will not hold the airline responsible incase of any unforeseen circumstances that may arise during the flight on the 737 Max 8!

    By this way the airlines can avoid the guilt of not clearly informing the pax that they are booking a ticket to fly on the 737 Max 8.

    Another option for airlines which are keen to get back the 737 Max 8 in service is to price the tickets lower that on non 737 Max 8 flights and also highlight this on the booking page indicating the Pax is booking the said flight.

    Something on the lines of COVID test flights which an airline is selling tickets which are priced higher than non COVID tested flights.

  27. When China certifies the Max, I’ll trust that it might be safe. And yes, this is what the credibility of the FAA has come down to.

  28. There’s no question that the 737 MAX is a POS that represents today’s lack of imagination and engineering skill. But an equally compelling reason to avoid AA’s 737 MAX is the torture chamber of an interior that it has. Look at it this way: your odds of being killed by having MAX plow you into the ground at 550 mph are far less than those of being killed by DVT from being crammed into a seat with 28″ of pitch and a bathroom the size of kayak.

    Either way, best to avoid this thing altogether.

  29. Will never get on that plane as well because the FAA (i.e. federal government) is incentivized to keep Boeing financially stable. I’m sure risk analysts will point out how X, Y, and Z decisions are riskier, but the fact is there are many other options in terms of planes to choose to get to destinations the 737MAX will serve. It’s not worth it.

  30. Boeing refused to change the MAX 8 aerodynamic design after flight testing revealed its engine position made it inherently unstable. Instead of redesigning the airframe Boeing chose to use hidden software to compensate for the plane’s shortcomings. But it too was flawed. They knew the MAX 8 was unsafe but they sold it anyway. Outrageous. Someone should have gone to prison. In memory of the those who lost their lives, even if it’s rebranded, we can hold Boeing accountable by refusing to fly on the MAX 8.

  31. I would be more concerned with the qualifications of who is flying the aircraft than the aircraft itself. Nothing really wrong with the plane. Ask the 6M+ passengers who traveled on the MAX8 before the 2 went down. If you say you will never fly on one, I’m afraid you are really limiting your choices for transport to your destination and not for a rational reason, pretty much an emotional one. Well, I suppose that leaves more room for me if you aren’t going. Safe travels, all!

  32. I heard American is getting a lots of enquiry about 737 max inaugural flight ?? ( Aviation Enthusiasts) wants to be on that first service af . I bet the moment they open booking it will be out in minutes. I am waiting for AA to open the booking for 737 Max

  33. The same people who claim they “will never fly the MAX” are the same people who claimed they would never fly a 737 when they had rudder issues.

  34. Innumerate safetyists abound. I wonder how many of the avowed Never 737-Maxers get inside cars or, God forbid, on motorcycles. Don’t worry, a Harris administration, together with Joe Biden as the President of the United States, will protect you from the bane of the 737-Max, along with white supremacy. Doug Parker is already doing the work! Project Oasis is a demonstration of his allyship: no one can have nice things!

  35. It would be very interesting to have been a fly on the wall regarding all the software changes that were made to make the system triply redundant and able to be certified. It certainly took a great deal of time and effort which seems to indicate the care that was taken or, possibly, the difficulty of correcting the initial flaws.

    I certainly would not fly AA version in Y if the interiors have not changed. Not cause it’s a Max but because the Oasis sounds like paying someone to flog you.

    Westjet will be flying them and though I hate Westjet I just might have to fly them at one point. My understanding is that Westjet interiors are a better layout but will await further confirmation. Hopefully they have already modified to install their version of “premium economy”.

  36. can’t trust the programmer on this. design flaw is one thing. Will let other brave souls fly on it for years before i step on one myself, if that thing never crash again.

  37. I would avoid American Airlines for the time being to be on the safe side. They may change your plane type last minute without informing the passengers and your knowledge.

    This plane appears to have design and software flaws to balance the weight of the plane. Apparently, instead of the plane being balanced by its own weight; on their MAX version, the software is relied on to keep the plane in the balanced shape. In the event, software needed to be updated or else while flying in the air, the plane loses it balance and would all of a sudden nose dive!

    On the production side, it is interesting that Boeing hasn’t stopped the production of their 787-MAX and continues to deliver them to airlines.

    They need to stop the production of the MAX and any other plane types relying on the software to keep the plane balanced, before another catastrophic event happens.

  38. I’ll try to fly it as a mileage run as AA gave me a targeted offer of double million miler miles until 12.31 and I live in Miami. However, the fare is $810 return right now. I can fly MIA-ORD-MIA for $76 return on many days between now and 12.31…

  39. A flawed aircraft made safe by software. Sure I might fly it in a year or two but I’ll pay a premium to avoid booking my family on the MAX.

  40. I am surprised at comments both in and after this article. I would urge anyone concerned about flying this plane to first research the crashes: Were the airlines routinely negligent or otherwise safe? Was the departure airport and those last performing routine maintenance, trustworthy with a generally good standard of care or known to be suspect? Was there another incident only days before on one of these airlines, with an interline pilot onboard that corrected the working pilot’s actions to prevent what would have been the first crash (because HE was properly trained)? This entire thing was a training issue. Personally I would be more concerned about flying these crashing airlines, than the planes themselves.

  41. So it has been said “Every airplane is a bag full of compromises.”. Or at least something to that effect. In any case it means there is no perfect airplane. No perfect weather, no perfect shoes. We need a bunch of different shoes, weather, etc. The 737 max is just another shoe in the closet. It will be used when and where appropriate, by persons who want to and there is nothing wrong with that.

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