What you need to know about flying on Boeing's MAX planes

SEATAC - With two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737-MAX 8 planes, some passengers at Sea-Tac airport on Tuesday said they have safety concerns.

For most airline passengers, planes are anonymous for the most part, but now some are going out of their way not to get on a MAX plane.

“It’s better to overreact and be on the safe side than it’s going to be fine and it happens to us,” traveler Camilla Brand said.

Another traveler John Neubauer says he was on a MAX 8 plane on Monday flying into Seattle from San Diego on Southwest.

“It wasn’t fear factor at all but it was a mental note saying well should I have done something?” Neubauer said.

But others say they won’t even give it a second thought before jumping on one.

“Flying is the safest mode of transportation,” traveler Sophia  said.

The airlines agree.

Southwest, the biggest operator of MAX planes, has 34 MAX 8 planes out of a fleet of 750.

“We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of the MAX 8,” a Southwest spokesperson said.

Aviation experts say American Airlines has fewer MAX 8’s than Southwest.

But the head of the union representing thousands of flight attendants who work for American Airlines says they asked the CEO to temporarily ground the planes.

“Our members have been calling since that plane crashed they are very concerned about the safety of their aircraft and rightly so,” Lori Bassani with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants said.

Aviation expert Scott Hamilton with Leeham Company says he is not surprised that airlines would not ground the planes with the information they have right now with nothing officially linking the two crashes.  He also said with most MAX 8 planes operating internationally, many travelers may not even be on the planes if they are flying domestic.

But Hamilton says concerned travelers can always ask to be moved to a different type of plane.

Most travelers will be able to see what type of plane they are on before they book their tickets.

There are also websites like flightstats.com that give you that kind of information.

“Makes me more curious on what plane I am getting on,” traveler Sarah Allen said.

Some people may mistake a 737-800 as the plane in question but it’s not. It would be listed specifically as a 737 MAX 8.

United Airlines does not operate any MAX 8 planes, but they do have 14 of the MAX 9 planes, which aviation experts say at this point would also be scrutinized because the planes are in the same family of newer planes.

Despite concerns, United says all of their policies remain the same.

“We are proud to say that we have the best pilots in the industry, and we have complete confidence in their ability to fly this aircraft safely,” United Airlines Spokesperson Rachael Rivas said.

But Southwest says they would be willing to waive fare differences if passengers need to switch planes.

“I would think they would offer under these circumstances for me that’s decent support,” Neubauer said.

Q13 News did not hear back from American Airlines on Tuesday.
WestJet is a Canadian airline that travels to and from Sea-Tac, and they say they operate 13 MAX 8 planes and they also emphasize that the planes are safe.