Southwest Airlines, the largest U.S. operator of the Boeing 737 MAX, is trying to reduce last-minute flight cancellations and sudden disruptions to passengers’ travel plans by yanking the aircraft from their flight schedule through November 2. This is the second time flight schedules have been revised to accommodate the MAX’s uncertain return-to-service, and, unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight.
The announcement today follows similar moves by American Airlines and United Airlines just days earlier to extend cancellations for the MAX through Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 respectively. As all three airlines continue to revise their flight schedules a month or two at a time, customers’ travel plans will continue to face uncertainty.
In case you were wondering, here’s how many flights the three major U.S. airlines will be canceling:
|Airline||Cancellations per day||Out of how many flights per day?||Additional cancellations through Nov. 2|
|American Airlines||115||6,700||Roughly 12,000|
|Southwest Airlines||180||4,000||Roughly 19,000|
|United Airlines||82||4,900||2,100 in September and 2,900 in October|
When will the 737 MAX fly again?
Boeing 737 MAX planes have been grounded since mid-March following two fatal crashes within five months, which killed 346 people. The company continues to work on a new software fix and training requirements that will then need to be approved by Federal Aviation Administration regulators, but airlines are confident these updates will lead to recertification of the aircraft this year.
Thousands of flights have already been canceled across airlines flying the 737 MAX, disrupting travel during peak summer travel times. The ongoing uncertainty around when the MAX can return to service is now threatening to disrupt the busy Thanksgiving holiday period.
What to do if your flight is affected
The airlines are taking measures to mitigate these disruptions by notifying passengers who have already booked their travel and will be affected by these schedule changes — whether it’s through automatic re-bookings on alternate flights or being contacted by representatives to re-accommodate their travel.
Not all flights previously scheduled on a MAX will be canceled, as airlines plan to substitute other aircraft in their place. If your flight has been affected by these changes, you can expect the airlines to proactively reach out to you to re-accommodate your travel. If you don’t want to wait, you can contact the airline directly:
- American Airlines: 1-800-433-7300
- Southwest Airlines: 1-800-435-9792
- United Airlines: 1-800-864-8331
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