Passengers annoyed by the two recent Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes should be prepared to pay if they want to reassure themselves by changing their flight plans.
Some major US-based airlines, Southwest Airlines LUV,
and American Airlines AAL,
told MarketWatch that they were sticking to the aircraft under review and that they did not make any concessions for customers who change their flight reservations to avoid flying on the 737 Max 8.
“As long as the FAA and Boeing stand behind the 737 Max, airlines not only have coverage, at least some are at a competitive disadvantage if they were to take action on their own.”
The Federal Aviation Administration has not ground any 737 Max planes, although the British Aviation Authority grounded those planes on Tuesday, reaching Malaysia, Norway, Singapore, Australia and several Latin American countries.
An Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday killed all 157 people on board just five months after the same model plane crashed in Indonesia, killing all 189 people aboard a Lion Air flight. Some carriers, including Cayman Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, have said they will temporarily stop using the planes, and flight safety regulators in China and Indonesia have grounded the airliners.
So how do you know if you are flying a 737 Max?
Websites Flightview.com and Flightaware.com – who said they saw a “noticeable spike in visitors” on Sunday – can tell which planes are slated for use on a particular flight. Flightaware.com told MarketWatch that there is no set timeline for when aircraft types are displayed for flights.
On Wednesday, Kayak.com, a travel booking site, announced it would begin including aircraft data.
“We recently received comments to make KAYAK’s filters more granular to exclude particular aircraft models from search queries,” said Giorgos Zacharia, chief technology officer. “We are releasing this improvement this week and are committed to providing our customers with all the information they need to travel with confidence. “
Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org, a consumer advocacy group for passengers, said flight change fees are typically around $ 200 for domestic flights and are higher for international flights.
Hudson, who is also a long-time member of the FAA’s rule-making advisory committee, believes all 737 Max 8 planes should be grounded. It is “inappropriate” for carriers to continue to fly the affected aircraft and charge a flight change fee under the circumstances, Hudson said. “But I can understand why they rely on the safety regulators and the manufacturer for their advice.”
“We collect data and stay in contact with international civil aviation authorities as information becomes available.”
He added: “As long as the FAA and Boeing stand behind the 737 Max, airlines not only have coverage, at least some are at a competitive disadvantage if they were to take action on their own.”
Charges are a way for carriers to make money, while providing very low base fares. In recent years, airlines have increased additional fees for so-called amenities such as early access to top storage bins, meals – and of course, bag check-in.
Authorities are investigating the crash, which occurred minutes after takeoff. Boeing BA,
Technical staff will examine the scene, according to a company statement expressing “its sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the passengers and crew on board.”
South West LUV,
has 34 Max 8 aircraft. American Airlines has 24 in its fleet of 1,000 aircraft, and Norwegian Air NWARF,
which currently has 18 of the planes, all offered their condolences. They all say they will continue to use airplanes.
“As the investigation into Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 progresses, we remain in close contact with Boeing, the FAA and other airlines to find out the cause of the crash,” Southwest said in a statement. “We operate 34 Max 8 aircraft in our fleet of over 750 Boeing 737s. We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of the Max 8. We have no planned changes to our Max 8 operations.”
“In addition, we do not refund non-refundable fares, although we work individually with customers who wish to rebook their flight to another type of aircraft,” he added.
told MarketWatch that he currently has 14 MAX-9s and no MAX-8 or MAX-10 aircraft in our fleet. “We have made it clear that the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is safe and that our pilots are properly trained to fly the MAX aircraft safely,” he said.
Some passengers nervous about flying on the Max 8 have requested waivers on change fees and other expenses involved in the flight change, but none of these carriers will offer special accommodation to travelers who wish to avoid the Max 8.
Airlines say they won’t allow passengers to change flights for free
Southwest responded on its Twitter TWTR,
account that it is do not offer special offers to people who wish to modify their reservations to avoid the plane. “If you want to change your flight, there would be a fare difference that would have to be collected to do so,” a representative for Southwest said on the social media platform.
A Southwest spokesperson told MarketWatch: “We have been in contact with Boeing and will continue to stay close to the investigation as it progresses. We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft. We have not anticipated any changes to our operating policies or procedures.
The company was receiving questions from customers that their flight would be in a 737 Max 8, the spokesperson noted. “Our customer relations team responds to these customers individually, emphasizing our friendly no-change fee policy (customers simply pay any applicable rate difference). We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft. “
“At this time, there are no facts about the cause of the crash other than reports.”
American Airlines noted “at this time there are no facts about the cause of the crash other than reports.” A representative for the carrier said it will keep a close watch on the crash probe, as it always does when crashes happen.
“American continues to collaborate with the [Federal Aviation Administration] and other regulatory authorities, as the safety of our team members and customers is our number one priority. We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew, who are the best and most experienced in the business.
“Our standard policies regarding changes to an itinerary would still apply,” the statement said.
Representatives of Virgin Airways, Delta DAL,
, Alaska Airlines ALK,
and JetBlue JBLU,
told MarketWatch that the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft was not included in their fleets.
The FAA said in a statement that it had personnel on site in Ethiopia as well as the National Transportation Safety Board. “We collect data and stay in contact with international civil aviation authorities as information becomes available.”
He added, “If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action.”
Boeing was up 15.3% year-to-date and down 7% at noon Tuesday. This compares to the S&P SPX,
which was up 11.5% since the start of the year, and the Dow Jones DJIA industrial index,
an increase of 9.7% since the start of the year.