At this point no one knows when the Boeing 737 MAX will fly again. Most bets are on sometime late in 2019, though it could be early 2020 if no other issues are discovered during the re-certification process.
Southwest, American, and United have all announced that they’re cancelling Boeing 737 MAX flights into early November although the truth is they don’t know when it will fly again. Each previous cancellation has been followed by another one.
Except… while United announced that they were pulling the 737 MAX from their schedule, they apparently forgot to actually do it.
Here’s Houston – Seattle. They even flag the Boeing 737 MAX 9 as a “recommended flight.”
And here’s one of the Houston – Newark flights on a 737 MAX.
Booking one of these flights doesn’t mean you’ll actually fly a 737 MAX. The date I happened to search was September 10 and there’s no way that the plane will be re-certified and brought back into the fleet by then. Furthermore even if re-certification had occurred, the airline might have a hard time with employees who bid for schedules assuming they wouldn’t be flying on the MAX.
This actually strikes me as an interesting test. My bet is that most people don’t look at the type of plane they’ll be flying when buying tickets. If these flights sell as well as other flights in the market, as well as the flights historically have, that might suggest that 737 MAX flights won’t suffer from customers booking away once the aircraft does return to service.
United Airlines, Houston
It’s not a perfect test because right now customers may assume the plane won’t be flying, though once it returns to service they could be more vigilant about the type of plane they’re flying on — as it appears they were when boarding Southwest Airlines flights and seeing safety cards for Boeing 737-800s that were the same as those used on the MAX.
(HT: Marc L.)