How I feel about flying on the 737 MAX
Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

Back in June, after we published this post, a reader tweeted at me asking how I felt about flying on the 737 MAX. With the plane still grounded (the certification flight that would begin the process of returning the 737 MAX to the skies is expected in October), I thought I’d share my thoughts. And I decided to compile them in a post in case others are interested, too. From Twitter:

Q Just wondering how you feel about flying in a ‘max’ after this?

A Short answer: I’ll avoid flying on the 737 MAX for a solid six months once the airlines start flying it again. And the longer answer…

The Boeing 737 MAX had been flying commercial routes since 2017, but after its second crash within six months—under similar circumstances—almost everyone on the planet became wary of flying on it. As for me, I flew on a 737 MAX for the first time just two weeks before the second crash, from LGA to MIA with AA. I waited so long to fly it not because I was afraid of it crashing. Instead, I waited because I’d heard many travelers and flight crew complain about how uncomfortable it was (because AA and others crammed so many seats into it and made the lavatories ridiculously small). After all that’s happened, six months after the plane is flying again is the earliest I’d fly it.

And following a recent setback, the 737 MAX won’t fly again until late this year. The earliest it will return seems to be November, but I doubt that happens. Southwest has taken the plane out of its holiday schedule and is planning on a January 5th return if everything goes as scheduled—but again, I doubt it will.

In my humble opinion, Boeing and the FAA took a serious hit in this crisis. Before the crashes, my planes of choice were almost always Boeings. Flight attendants would often tell me that they liked them most as they rarely broke down, unlike Airbus’s planes did. One flight attendant even sang those thoughts to me like a tag line: “Boeing is best.”

Sadly, that’s not the case anymore in many eyes, including mine. It will take years, if not decades, for Boeing to regain the trust of the public and make people feel comfortable flying on the 737 MAX, and even its newer-model planes. Stay tuned.

Which airlines have 737 MAX jets?

Here’s a map that includes every airline that’s taken delivery of the problematic jet straight from Boeing’s website. In the U.S., American (AA), Southwest and United fly the 737 MAX.

What do you think?

Do you agree? Will you avoid flying on the 737 MAX and any new planes Boeing comes out with? Or do you have confidence in them? Share in the comments below!



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6 Comments On "How I Feel About Flying on the 737 MAX"
  1. Tony Kinsley|

    My wife and I will not fly on the Max, ever. If it’s Boeing, we ain’t going.
    We live in the UK and mostly fly long-haul and actively seek out Airbus A330, A340 and A380 (usually Upper Deck at the back) for the Coach seat plan of 2-4-2 so that I can have a window and we don’t have to climb over someone to get to the aisle. When we travel in Business Class we seek out 2-2-2, again so that I can have a window seat. Later this year we are on a Lufthansa A380 in Business Class to Hong Kong – two seats together and I get a window seat.

  2. John Lebeck|

    Since these planes have been sitting idle for a long time, I won’t be flying any of them for a month or two. Mechanics need to be sure everything still works and the crew needs to be completely confident in flying them.

  3. walt williams|

    It depends on the airline. All the Class A (US, Western Europe) have pilots trained that whenever you have a runaway trim, turn it off.

  4. Jeannine Margaret Roman|

    I will go out of my way to never fly the MAX 8/9. Who knows what undiscovered faults were built into this plane? I’m also concerned about the 777X. What’s with the engines?

  5. Ray Chartrand|

    When a software fix is regarded as an acceptable solution to a basic engineering design flaw, I for one will steer clear of this platform.
    Pilots of old with stick & rudder experience might mitigate a malfunction but when you have to refer to the manual for trouble codes during critical moments it’s often too late to locate, process and execute the required command. Just look at the two crashes for proof.

  6. SEM|

    I will fly the Max 8 without hesitation. When the Max 8 returns to the air it will be the most vetted plane on the planet. The pilots and flight attendants that operate these aircraft want to get home safe just as much as any passengers and if they are willing to get on board then so am I. We all engage in activities every day that are statistically far more likely to result in serious injury or death.

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