American Airlines has 24 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in service. Plenty of customers are expressing concern over the aircraft after the Lion Air incident in October was followed by yesterday’s tragic crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX. China and Indonesia have grounded the jet.
Many airlines operating the plane, including Southwest and American, have expressed support for the aircraft’s safety. And it’s too early to know just what happened in yesterday’s occurrence. We’ll know more soon, especially now that the aircraft’s black boxes are being studied.
It’s natural though to have concerns. This may be the first time that non-frequent flyers start paying attention to aircraft codes. American and Southwest list their MAX 8 aircraft as “7M8.”
While there’s no travel waiver allowing passengers to cancel or reschedule trips without fee if they’re flying this aircraft, American’s flight attendants’ union is telling crew they have options if they do not want to work one.
Upon hearing the news yesterday regarding the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, I immediately contacted Doug Parker and Jill Surdek to request they address critical safety concerns of our Union and our members in flying the 737 Max aircraft. The company issued a general statement via Jetnet.
I contacted management again this morning with safety concerns of our Union and members flying this aircraft. Their current response is they will follow the normal fear of flying procedures. It is important for you to know that if you feel it is unsafe to work the 737 Max, you will not be forced to fly it.
You must contact crew schedule and your flight service manager who will remove you with a Personal Off (PO). While I have requested that the PO be non-chargeable, details must still be worked out. You may make up the flying via the regular methods available.
I am in contact with the leadership of APA, TWU, FAA and NTSB. We are all gathering facts and working together on how to best represent our members in the aftermath of this tragedy. We will keep you updated as information becomes available.
I have no hesitancy flying the 737 MAX on a US airline based on the information we know today (I don’t like what American has done with their interiors, I don’t much mind it on Southwest for trips under 4 hours). And I’d worry that a premature grounding might lead some people to take less safe means of transportation on shorter routes instead.
However I do think waivers – for passengers and for crew – would not be unreasonable.