United Airlines will end its Boeing 737MAX waiver beginning April 7, meaning that passengers booked to fly on the aircraft will have no choice but to get on the flight or lose their money.
In an effort to restore public confidence in the troubled airliner, United has been offering customers who were nervous about flying on the 737MAX since it was ungrounded the opportunity to rebook on an alternative flight or receive a full refund.
United became the second U.S. airline to return the 737MAX to the skies in February – nearly two months after rival American Airlines ungrounded its 737MAX fleet following authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The first United 737MAX flight departed Denver International Airport on February 11 after a 23-month absence from the skies when the aircraft type was grounded worldwide in March 2019.
United has 737MAX aircraft based in Denver and Houston. The airline is currently operating around 2,000 flights per month using the aircraft type and in the first couple of months of operation hasn’t seen any major issues with customers booked to fly on the aircraft.
One survey, conducted in late 2019, suggested that most Americans would switch to an alternative aircraft type if given the opportunity over fears about the safety of the 737MAX – in reality, when given the chance to do exactly that, the vast majority of travelers are happy to fly the aircraft.
In fact, as other studies have concluded – most casual travelers don’t even know they are flying on a 737MAX even when the branding on things like the in-seat safety card remains unchanged.
“We are fully confident in the safety of the 737 MAX, in the updates, and in the work technicians performed while these planes were on the ground,” a spokesperson for United Airlines said of the aircraft.
“United is working to implement the recommendations and directives from independent regulators, including FAA-mandated changes to the flight software, additional pilot training, and multiple test flights for each aircraft to ensure the planes are ready to fly,” a statement continued.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
“will have no choice but to get on the flight or lose their money.” Huh? That is quite dramatic and not entirely true. United doesn’t currently have change fees and “use or lose” clauses are specific to the fare booked. Moreover, pandemic waivers have allowed customers to cancel a trip and retain the value for a set period of time.