American Extends 737 MAX Cancellations Through August 19 – Believes Plane Will Fly Sooner

At the end of the week we learned that Southwest Airlines had extended flight cancellations related to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX to August 5th.

American Airlines, in a letter to employees, announced this morning that they had extended their grounding of the aircraft through August 19th.

They were explicit, though, that they believe the plane will be flying before then.

Based on our ongoing work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing, we are highly confident that the MAX will be recertified prior to this time.

As a result, when MAXes return to service they’ll be used as spares during the peak summer travel season. That should help the operation substantially if it comes to fruition. Weather can wreak havoc not just while it’s passing through, but even delaying return of aircraft to rotation. For instasnce with bad weather Saturday at Dallas Fort-Worth, at one point 57 planes went out of service as a result of hail, and this morning 28 were still out of service.

American, despite their focus on D0 (getting planes to push back exactly on time), only has a goal of just under 60% D0 for July. Perhaps operating with spares in the domestic fleet can help them exceed that.

If you have American Airlines travel booked this summer check your itineraries even if you weren’t scheduled to fly on a 737 MAX. The airline is cancelling around 115 flights per day, but not exclusively flights that would have been operated by that aircraft. Instead some 737 MAX flights will be operated by other aircraft, and flights that would have been flown with other planes get cancelled.

While this may be just 1.5% of their summer schedule, it will still be disruptive. If your flights are cancelled and haven’t been rescheduled you can reschedule them. If you don’t like the flights you’ve been auto-reassigned to, call and ask for specific preferred flights. And if your schedule has changed materially you may be entitled to a refund. You can then rebook on another carrier if you prefer.

Read the full letter to employees:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Given humans’ terrible ability to assess risk, I was wondering what would happen in the first few weeks after the MAX was (safely) returned to service. I figured there certainly would be some anti-MAX hysteria. I’m not entirely sure if it’s intentional, but AA’s summer strategy is a great way to combat this. Nobody will be “scheduled” to fly the MAX; it will just roll up to the gate and fly some unsuspecting pax. I’m guessing a handful will refuse to get on and post on social media. I doubt there will be much sympathy.

  2. @Chopsticks… Right now, the question is the humans at Boeing ability to assess risk. For customers, they prefer to fly because of its reputation for safety and efficiency. But, try something radical like removing the TSA from the air travel process and just put in metal detectors from the 1970’s, and there will be more customer hysteria, complete with numerous false alarms of “if you see something, say something.”

    This news thread is sensational because it is sensational, not because it is made up. It’s sensational, because Boeing did not provide redundant AOA sensors or other ways to confirm its readings. It’s sensational because Boeing masked a key difference that AA and SWA airline pilot were not fully aware of (UAL pilots were aware and pointed to documents that did highlight the change.) This story is sensational because group think both at Boeing and among the major carriers declared it safe despite the well documented weakness inherent in the plane, whether it was software design, aerodynamic design, or mechanical design.
    This story is sensational because the major carriers (except Delta) were caught off guard and/or didn’t have a clue what they were purchasing. Not the budget carriers, that are routinely avoided because who wants to fly in a lowest bidder airplane?
    If I hop on this airplane, I expect to pay an airfare equivalent to Frontier/Allegiant/Spirit and spend a $1 or 2 on the air travel accident policy for my family to use in case the plane happens to hit some turbulence, or a couple of birds destroy an engine or a sensor, or another typical scenario that the software didn’t anticipate and the pilots weren’t able to simulate, or worse, the simulator resulted in a crash or un-flyable plane afterward, much less crash land.
    I am not saying to you not to fly in it. On the contrary, I am saying please fly in it and help minimize the hysteria as the statistics start to return to the norm. And if you were wrong, we will shift the blame from hysteria and statistics to poor engineering. Personally, I can take the risk. I agree with you, it is probably no worse than driving or even walking on the sidewalk. It is probably much safer than Texting or Cell phone use and driving. (And that is why the habit is highly discouraged or prohibited.) But no way is my family getting on this bird before 2021.

  3. While I’m not real excited about flying this aircraft any time soon, I would imagine they would have located the problems and fixed them by the time it is re-certified. I remember the DC-10 fiascos a long time ago, and they fixed that and I flew lots of them afterwards. Actually it was a really nice plane to fly. Of course, the DC10 is gone; but it was around for a long time.

  4. American Airlines could offer returning passengers a complimentary t-shirt which says, “I survived my American Airlines flight on the Boeing 737 Max”

  5. @Fred Lee, Your comment is a good summary of Boeing’s contribution to the the MAX debacle. You left out the FAA which also bears some responsibility for the way it let Boeing regulate itself. The FAA should take a hard look at that process. There is also evidence of potentially illuminating reports on the MAX and nose-down issues in the Aviation Safety Reporting System. And the Seattle Times identified flaws in an internal safety analysis of the 737 MCAS software and presented them to Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration four days before the fatal crash in Ethiopia.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-faa-told-of-possible-mcas-software-issues-in-737-max-plane-before-crash-report-2019-3

    The FAA was the last body to ground the Max. Was that due to lack of evidence or unwillingness to admit a failure?

    Another question is the need for MCAS in the first place. The system is designed to recognize an aerodynamic stall and respond by lowering the nose, i.e., increasing airspeed. Are airline transport pilots unable to do that with a stick shaker?

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