United Airlines Ending Change Flexibility For 737 MAX Passengers

United will stop offering change flexibility to passengers booked on the Boeing 737 MAX on April 7 less than two months after the carrier returned the plane to service.

The airline brought the Boeing 737 MAX back into service on February 11. Since that time they’ve offered customers booked onto MAX aircraft complimentary changes. Bear in mind that someone might have booked a ticket for a flight that wasn’t originally listed as a MAX, but with the plane flying again the aircraft may have been changed.

As part of confidence-building for the plane, airlines have generally let customers make free changes to avoid it if they wish. Of course most customers don’t seem to be aware of the plane they’re flying on, and relatively few take advantage of switching or seem to be booking away from the aircraft.

In a week, though, if United places a Boeing 737 MAX on your route you’ll either have to fly the plane or be out money. I believe the plane is now safe and indeed that well-trained pilots flying well-maintained MAX aircraft could have flown it without issue even before system modifications were made. Nonetheless, I’d have liked to see flexibility, customers given a choice about flying the plane, continue while we all see the plane operate safely for a longer period.

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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  1. Good – I agree the plane is safe (probably the safest in the air given the heightened focus the last couple of years). Also, US airlines didn’t have any major issues with the plane before. AA bought the optional safety package (which shouldn’t have ever been optional by Boeing) and also US training is better than in most Asian and African airlines.

    I feel comfortable flying on any aircraft operated by major US and other first world airlines.

  2. Bad- The plane is an aerodynamic “Corvair”. Software does not and cannot always fix a poor aerodynamic design. If the problems are “solved”, why did AA have “pitch control” issues with a “Max” just last week? This engineer’s concerns about the “Max” have not yet been alleviated.

  3. @D.A.
    >why did AA have “pitch control” issues with a “Max” just last week?

    I cannot find any such incident with a Google search. @D.A., Do you have a source?

  4. @JohnSF / the source was “View from the wing.” Just search Gary’s blog and it should turn up. I’m confused how customers will be out of money if there are no longer any change fees.

  5. Looks like after all these years my loyalty will switch to Delta (plus, they are dominant here in Seattle; United isn’t). Delta is the one major US airline that is not ordering the 737 MAX – it looks like they are slowly moving to an Airbus model.

  6. “and indeed that well-trained pilots flying well-maintained MAX aircraft could have flown it without issue even before system modifications”

    Sure, they “could” have, and they did, but with a higher probability of accident. The plane had a single point of failure and MCAS was undocumented. In a heavy workload situation, or with bad weather, even well trained pilots could have been overwhelmed.
    It’s also worth pointing out that trim isn meant to be used this way. MCAS is a kludge born of the fact that the 737 isn’t fly-by-wire and yet is aerodynamically unstable under some conditions.
    Boeing management is penny wise and pound foolish. They should not be trusted till there are major changes at the company.

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