Airlines Split on How to Inform Customers Once Troubled 737 Jets Return to Skies
AP Photo / Matt HartmanBusiness00:07 17.10.2019Get short URL332Subscribe
With Boeing promising its 737 Max passenger jets will be fixed in the coming months, airlines are weighing new policies to assuage passenger concerns, including alerting them when they book a flight on one of the planes and letting them switch flights for free if they object.
Airlines around the world have grounded their Boeing 737 Max fleets since a pair of crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 killed hundreds of passengers flying in the jets. Boeing says the cause – the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software designed to prevent the plane from stalling – will soon be fixed and the plane will be among the safest in the skies, but passengers have proven skittish about riding in them once they return.
April polls by consultant Henry Harteveldt and IBD/TIPP also found a slim majority of Americans would avoid flying on a Boeing 737 Max once they return to service, and 40% would choose a pricier or less convenient flight to avoid flying on a Max jet.
“You’re going to be swarming them in information anyway. They’re going to get a confirmation email. They’re going to get the boarding pass. They’re going to get the notice on the app that it’s time to check in,” Garcia said, “so wherever the eyeballs are likely to go for information about their flight, that’s where the information about the Max ought to be.”
United Airlines, which has 14 Max jets, has made similar pledges, with CEO Oscar Munoz saying in May that the airline would “make it very transparent that you are on that type of aircraft, and if people need any kind of adjustments, we will absolutely rebook them in any way, shape or form.”
The publication noted several other airlines, including Norwegin, Korean Air and Air Canada, haven’t made or are unwilling to announce any concrete plans.
Pressure is on at Boeing, one of the world’s largest planemakers. The Chicago-based firm reshuffled its leadership last week, separating the roles of chairman and CEO in order to give the former the ability to focus primarily on the 737 Max issue, Sputnik reported. The firm is slated to pay out some $100 million to the families of the 346 crash victims in the next few years, which is unconnected to any potential payout resulting from a lawsuit.