Airlines To Avoid if You’re Afraid To Fly Boeing (and Which Ones To Use Instead)

In the wake of recent Boeing malfunctions, FinanceBuzz found out which major airlines use Boeing planes, and how much of their fleets are Boeing-made.

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Updated May 13, 2024
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Too many recent news stories about air travel have involved planes being grounded or stories about a plane part breaking in midair. The common denominator? Boeing 737 planes.

Boeing’s issues have become prevalent enough that Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, announced a halt on the airline’s order of Boeing 737 MAX 10 planes after extended delays waiting for FAA certification. (United asked for more MAX 9 planes instead.)

If the news has made you nervous to fly, but you need to book flights for future travel, then you may be wondering how to avoid Boeing planes. To help anxious fliers, the team at FinanceBuzz analyzed which airlines have the most Boeing planes in their fleets.

In this study

Key findings

  • Southwest Airlines has the most Boeing 737 planes in its fleet. All 817 of Southwest’s planes are some kind of 737 model.
  • Boeing airplanes also make up 100% of Sun Country Airlines’ 56-plane fleet
  • At least half of the planes in the current fleets for Delta, American Airlines, United, and Alaska Airlines are made by Boeing.
  • There are five major airlines that do not have any Boeing planes in their fleets: JetBlue, Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, and Breeze.

How many Boeing planes are currently in use?

Travelers who want to avoid flying in a Boeing plane may not have the option. Boeing is one of just two major companies worldwide (along with Airbus) that manufacture large passenger aircraft at scale. Due to the lack of competition in the marketplace, Boeing planes make up a significant portion of the current fleets for many airlines across the U.S. and the world.

A pie chart showing the three manufacturers that produce the airplanes in major U.S. airlines' fleets. Boeing accounts for 59%.


Nearly 5,000 aircraft make up the combined current fleets of the 12 major U.S.-based airlines we looked at, and the majority of those planes were built by Boeing. The embattled manufacturer produced 59% of all planes in those fleets. Airbus made 39% of the remainder, and Embraer, a smaller Brazilian manufacturer, made 3%.

Airlines with the most and fewest Boeing planes

While the small number of companies manufacturing commercial aircraft makes it hard to avoid Boeing planes, it’s not impossible.

A table showing major U.S. airlines with the total number of planes in their fleets and what number of those are Boeing planes and Boeing 737 MAX planes.


The largest overall plane fleets among airlines in the United States belong to:

  • Delta (985 planes)
  • American Airlines (967 planes)
  • United (954 planes)
  • Southwest (817 planes)
  • Alaska Airlines (317 planes)

Boeing planes comprise more than half of the planes in each one of those airlines’ fleets, including 100% of Southwest’s fleet, 81% of United’s, and 73% of Alaska’s.

Due to recent history, the 737 MAX line of planes has been among the most concerning for travelers. The Alaska Airlines flight that lost a fuselage plug was a 737 MAX 9, and there was a worldwide grounding of all 737 MAX models for nearly two years between March 2019 and December 2020 following a pair of fatal crashes involving 737 MAX 8 planes.

With that in mind, we investigated how many 737 MAX planes are in each airline’s fleet. Four airlines — American, United, Southwest, and Alaska — have more than 50 of these planes in use. Southwest leads the way with 228 MAX planes, followed by United (166), Alaska (66), and American (59).

The largest airline in the country that does not count Boeing planes of any kind among its fleet is JetBlue, as all 290 of its planes are made by either Airbus or Embraer. The only other airlines that do not have any Boeings in operation all fall into the “budget-friendly” category. Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant Air all have fleets made up entirely of Airbus planes, while Breeze Airways has a mix of Airbus and Embraer models.

Bottom line

The make and model of the plane you’ll be flying in is just one of the many factors that can cause flight anxiety. However, there are many ways to make your travel experience more pleasant no matter which airline you choose:

  • Fly more comfortably with TSA PreCheck reimbursement. Using TSA PreCheck can help you breeze through security at the airport. And many popular credit card issuers offer cards that cover TSA PreCheck. With reimbursement through your card, you can essentially enroll for free.
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  • Kick back and relax at the airport. Regardless of which airline you use, lengthy delays and layovers happen. If you have a free lounge access credit card, you’ll be able to relax while you wait and enjoy airport lounge amenities.

Methodology

Fleet data for each airline was collected via https://www.planespotters.net/ in April 2024. Fleet numbers represent the entirety of the “current” fleet for each U.S.-based airline at the time of writing. This includes all planes actively in service as well as any that are currently parked for any reason, including routine maintenance, repairs, etc. Plane Spotters updates its database on a daily basis, so numbers may change slightly due to factors such as the delivery of new planes, the retirement of old planes, and other variables.

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Josh Koebert

Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how personal finance overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.