American Airlines Boeing 737

Like it or not, the 737 MAX is back in the skies, and if it isn’t near you yet – it will be soon. The plane continues the long history of the Boeing 737 as a short haul stalwart for airlines, and despite the plane’s horrific history, orders are still piling in.

For many, that leaves an unsavory taste in the mouth towards air travel, in a time when things are already pretty bitter.

Add in the latest twist, where some 63 Boeing 737-MAX aircraft are again being recalled for electrical wiring faults, despite just being re-certified to fly by government agencies around the world, and there are even more justifiable reasons why someone might just want to give this plane a pass. The new issue is said to impact 16 airlines which fly the 737-MAX.

Here’s 10 ways to avoid flying in a Boeing 737 MAX, if you think you absolutely must.

Airlines Flying The 737 MAX

An easy way, for now, to avoid the 737-MAX is to figure out which airlines are flying the plane, and when. If you don’t want to fly it, the simplest solution would be to choose another airline. Here’s the airlines with firm orders, or letters of intent to fly the 737 MAX, many of which have already been delivered.

Aeromexico, American Airlines, Air China, Air Canada, China Eastern, China Southern, Copa, Ethiopian, Fiji Airways, FlyDubai, GOL, Hainan, Korean Air, Icelandair, IAG (likely for Vueling, Aer Lingus, Iberia), Lion Air, Malaysia Airlines, Norwegian, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Ryanair, Southwest, SpiceJet, Turkish Airlines, TUI, United Airlines, VietJet, Virgin Australia, WestJet and Xiamen.

American Airlines Boeing 737

As you can see, it’s not going to be quite so easy to avoid this beleaguered plane, after all. Who are the biggest operators of the 737-MAX? The largest orders – aka the most planes to be delivered will go to: American, FlyDubai, United, Southwest, VietJet, Lion Air and Ryanair.

Many of these airlines are already readying their 737-MAX jets to re-enter service, or already haveand widespread MAX use is expected by the summer of 2021.

Some airlines even plan to conceal the ‘MAX’ part of the aircraft name, making the plane slightly harder to identify for the general public. A little bit of extra knowledge below can help go a long way in avoiding the 737-MAX, even with airlines which fly it. Though there are always going to be some unique exceptions, the 737-MAX won’t tend to do much long haul flying.

If you’re flying Air Canada from Vancouver to London, or Qatar from Doha to Sydney, there’s virtually no chance you end up flying on a 737 MAX for the long haul trip so it’s hardly worth worrying about. If you have a short haul connection first, like Vancouver to Toronto, you may encounter it though. Basically, don’t fret for longer flights.

How To Physically Identifying The 737-MAX

There’s one fool proof way to identify the 737-MAX, and one good ‘guestimate’. The fool proof way is to look at the engines. If they look jazzy, like they’ve got special edges on the back side of the engine, it’s a MAX. These newer MAX engines have a serrated tooth, or flame like design on the back, much like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The wing tips go both up and down on the 737 MAX, and you can see the back edges of the engine, which are serrated, rather than smooth and uniform. .

The other hint is the wingtips. A MAX wingtips will go both up and down, rather than just up, but some airlines fly a non-MAX variant which has a similar look, so it’s more of a guess. However, if it’s got the up and down wing tips, and you see teeth like serrated edge on the back of the engines, it’s a MAX.

Use Free Online Tools

Airlines do change up plans from time to time, but paying more attention to which aircraft your itinerary proposes in the first place helps. It should also give you more wiggle room, if your plane changes to a 737-MAX after you book.

If you’re searching on Google Flights, or with your favorite airline, look to see what plane the flight is operated by. Google Flights actually does a really excellent job of distinguishing between a standard 737, which has been around for decades, or the new 737-MAX.

Here’s an example from New York to Miami, which happens to be the first route American is flying the 737-MAX…

A big x-factor with avoiding the 737-MAX is that many flights you book today may swap to the MAX at a later date. Airlines such as Southwest in the USA have over 270 planes on order, with just 31 delivered. As deliveries roll in, they’ll need somewhere to fly, and many flights marked as a 737 or A320 today may change to a 737-MAX.

Airline Flexibility Policies

Due to this concern, some airlines are adding flexibility for people who end up with a 737-MAX, and aren’t too keen on the idea. American Airlines is allowing passengers to swap onto another flight, or if the destination is only served by the MAX, they’ll allow you to cancel for a credit in the full amount, or re-route to a destination with 300 miles.

United just axed their policy allowing people to change or cancel 737-MAX flights.

Airlines are keen to make delivery of the 737-MAX a seamless experience, and for the near future that will mean accommodating passengers who wish to avoid it. Use these handy tools and visual clues to avoid booking, or ending up on a MAX if that’s how you feel, and don’t be afraid to ask an airline what they’re prepared to offer.

It’s expected that many will follow American’s footsteps, and allow travel on the next non-MAX flight, or a future travel credit, but eventually, the MAX will become one of the most visible and widely used airplanes in the sky, like it or not.

For reference, there are over 5,000 MAX aircraft on order, compared to under 2,000 Boeing 777’s delivered in the history of the entire 30 year program. There’s going to be a lot of these things flying, and though moral objections are totally valid, it could one day be the safest plane ever to fly, given the additional testing and scrutiny.

That is, if the 737-MAX gets through it’s latest round of recall due to newly discovered defects. Yep, even after all the global aviation safety bodies signed off on the plane. It’s going to be an interesting year for the 737-MAX, and if you don’t want to be a part of the ride, you’ve got more than enough info to make your own choices to avoid it.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

Join the Conversation

156 Comments

        1. They have an LOI for quite a few planes, with plans for 2023 though, no? Obvs these were destined for Gatwick, which isn’t much of a thing now for BA, but I don’t think you can pretend IAG have “no plans” for the MAX. Like I said, feel free to share anything saying they won’t be taking any planes.

      1. Exactly. it’s as safe as any plane. When pilots from a third world country dont know how to fly the plane that’s the problem!!!. Talk about an article that is overreacting. Good God!! Dont they realize UNITED. AMERICAN, AND SOUTHWEST flew thousands and thousands of flights with the MAX for over a year with 0 problems!!! Horrible article!

        1. Thanks to the recent antics of megalomaniac politocos it is rationally impossible to distinguish USA from a ‘Third World Country’, at least for the rational rest-of-the-world.
          So what if it flew hundreds of hours – it has the most crashes per hour of any non-military aircraft since 1968 [post-Comet]. Hence the more it flies the more likely it is to crash.
          Even more worrying – the avionics softness propagates to each new generation of the line. Given the demonstrable collusion of slovinliness between USA regulators and USA aircraft manufacturers can we ever trust USA mfred aircraft ever again?

        2. There are literally REAMS of reports from aeronautical engineers on how the placement and weight of the engines makes the max plus unsound. It had nothing to do with pilot error, otherwise the fleet would not have been grounded. It has nothing to do with so called ‘3rd world pilots’. I will never fly this plane.

  1. IAG is not even an airline… it’s an airline group, so this needs clarification on which airlines in the group have MAX orders. Sorry for being picky. Otherwise great article, as always, Gilbert! You rock! 🙂

  2. As of Dec 22:
    “Alaska said Tuesday it will buy 68 of the 737 Max 9 planes, up from the 32 it had previously ordered. Alaska will buy 23 of them from Boeing and lease 13 others from Air Lease. Alaska also announced options to buy 52 other Max planes.”

    1. disable mcas and its unsafe, so you are prepared to put your safety in a “revised” piece of software? NO its not a “Safe” aircraft and never will be, if one more crashes and its attributable to sensor/sofware failure that will be the end of this aircraft , it shouldhave been permanently grounded and turned into scrap

          1. Most fighters are flying bricks (F-16, F-22, F-35…) and the V-22 has virtually no glide ability. These planes could not be flown without computers and sensors to take simplistic pilot inputs and drive hundreds of calculated outputs to avionic systems that keep the plane in the air. If it’s not your prerogative to fly on a plane that kept in the air with computers because it’s not aerodynamically stable then you’ll be flying less and less as new aircraft are developed. Especially when flying wings start coming out commercially. Just saying…

  3. Why would anyone would prefer to avoid flying the Boeing 737 MAX? Yes, it’s back and I am convinced that it is safer than ever before… probably one of the safest jet to fly now. …If it’s Boeing I am going, if it’s aint Boeing I am not going.

    1. boeing is a disgrace, a once great company ruined by moron management and accountants, ENGINEERS should be making decisions about the safety of aircraft design period

          1. Agreed. Boeing is most definitely at fault in it’s rush to get MAX certified, which led to urgent information regarding the aircraft’s design and MCAS system not being properly relayed to airlines that began operating this version. The aircraft itself is not at fault here. It’s one of the most technologically advanced machines flying, and easily one of the safest. You can have the world’s most foolproof and safest plane on the market, but when you put 2 pilots at the controls who are unaware of a key piece of automation it’s only a matter of time before it bites you.

    2. …just be sure to chant that cute slogan when you find yourself hurtling towards the earth (faster than the speed of sound) as a passenger in a MAX that the pilot crew cannot control… see if that comforts you at that point in time.

  4. What a prat, what does he know given all he does is fly about reporting on his experience of this airline or another, there a load like him but what does he know about the actual airoplane?

          1. Why won’t you answer?

            “buT tWo CrAsHeZ” will just show how unbelievably ignorant you are about the aircraft, and the two incidents in question, so choose your words wisely.

            There are two types of people here: you’re misleading one group with your uninformed, ignorant BS and the other group is laughing at you for being such a Facebook soccer mom.

          2. Why won’t you answer the question?

            I know why you won’t, but I wanna hear you say it.

            You’re simply regurgitating ignorant, MSM talking points. The aircraft is not unsafe when pilots are trained properly. The thousands upon thousands of flights flown by US/UK/European carriers prove that.

            You might not be willing to say it…but I am.

            You’re a low-budget hack when it comes to aircraft knowledge.

  5. I will be flying these planes after my training is done. I don’t have any problem jumping in them at all. A properly trained pilot is the best safeguard against any incident. If you do the research of the companies that had these 737 Max accidents and look into the quality of training that they went through, especially Lion Air, it’s not surprising why there was an accident.

    1. jeff, do you believe everything your told like a little boy at school ? boeing didnt even tell the pilots about the fucking crap they installed on it to prevent it stalling ,fucking WAKE UP FOR F***S SAKE

  6. Just. A quick question, why would anyone want to avoid the MAX now? Sure it has crashed once a many times but it should be fixed by now (I hope). And of course there are those safety freaks but other than them, everyone else should at least try it if they are flying anytime soon.

  7. Boeing betrayed us all with their greed and total lack of respect for our life’s. They avoided taking responsibility along with the FAA until they were forced in to a corner. We’ll done China for taking the lead in grounding this dreadful abomination. Zero trust.

  8. Why don’t European airlines avoid the 737max due to the fact the yanks are adding import tax for airbus parts into the states. Buy airbus, support local economy and stuff the yanks. Airbus are better aircraft anyway.

    1. What am I purporting to know, that the FAA does not? I’m simply stating facts about who will fly the plane, and how one might go about avoiding it, if they so wish. I won’t actively seek to fly it, and provide a balanced account of why one might not want to. My final line says it all “There’s going to be a lot of these things flying, and though moral objections are totally valid, it should now be the safest plane ever to fly, given the additional testing and scrutiny.”

      1. exactly ,its all about TRUST, the FAA are supposed to be answerable to the general public and the pilots ,FAILED, thats why 346 people are DEAD ,boeing management should be in jail along with FAA , utter disgrace

    1. The key word in your post is “recertify” which should tell the FAA certified it once but we’re criminally negligent in their testing of the plane why would anyone trust them again, good luck if you’re gonna fly with them you’re gonna need it,..R.I.P….

    2. You want “FACTS”(?) Here’s some: It doesn’t mean that it’s been “fixed”… It means that the FAA SAYS that it’s been fixed. Two different things. Further, tests don’t automatically reveal something’s flaws quickly-enough. Further yet, the FAA had originally certified it to be safe BEFORE the two crashes that took a combined 346 souls to their death, so it wasn’t worth much that it was certified at the time. So, this is an example of how the FAA ISN’T always correct when they say a craft is safe to fly, Fact-boy.

      1. my comments about the 737 would equally apply to ANY aircraft manufacturer , they all have a responsibility to ensure their products are well designed and “SAFE” for the travelling public. As to the FAA, had they performed their job with integrity and conviction instead of rolling over for boeing 346 people would still be here today

  9. Early on the Airbus 320, 737’s direct competidor, had a couple of accidents due to software issues, different times, less demanding air authorities and particularly a less aggresive press, the 737 Max is the most thoroughy tested aircraft in history, I will fly it with no issues!

    1. its not whether its boeing or airbus or anybody else, its doing the job right, peoples lives are at stake here, everybody involved in aviation must take responsibility whether its manufacturers, parts suppliers, regulators, operators, engineers,mechanics, and everybody else in this industry ,disasters like this should be “engineered out” not in, and must not be allowed to happen again

  10. If the FAA are so efficient why did they pass the aircraft in the first place, Boeing knew it had faults but flew it anyway even after the first plane crashed, they also tried to blame pilot error, they are not to be trusted with people’s lives any longer and the FAA needs investigating for its obvious incompetence, if you value your life and your families don’t fly this aircraft and hopefully Boeing will go bust making air travel safer.

  11. This article is pure BS. I am a pilot. I have flown fighters in the USAF. and many other civilian aircraft in my 45 yrs. of flying. Let me state without a doubt. The MAX is one of the safest airplanes flying. It wasn’t 2 years ago, but it is now. I would load my entire family on it everyday for a year if flown by a US carrier.
    The author of this article has no clue about flight safety. He is a fear monger. Disregard this clown.

  12. This “article” (blog post) is ridiculous. Spreading fear unnecessarily, only to end stating it should be one of the safest planes to fly on. Ridiculous.

  13. Boeing is culpable for selling an aircraft
    with a flight critical system that derived data from a single AOA sensor. They were further culpable for failing to ensure that flight crews received adequate training. That is enough to convince me not to trust Boeing or the FAA certification process ever again. There is, however, a bigger point. Modern aircraft designs continue to make the pilot ever more remote from the airframe. The warning signs were clearly there after Air France lost an Airbus due to sensors being impaired by icing. Pilots still need to acquire and retain the age-old basics of flying and be trained to recognise and manage systems degradation.

  14. Please… I’m more likely to avoid the max because it’s seats are reportedly quite uncomfortable, but a short hop won’t really matter. If I avoided every plane that had ever crashed, I’d have a short list of equipment I’d be comfortable flying on.

  15. I have flown the B-737 & several models…100/200. & 300…Never the Max. Also having flown the a320…is where I was introduced to stall recovery systems. Since the beginning of my training stalls were…recognition of & recovery from. Keeping the rubberband tight ( so to speak)…I am so sorry Boeing has to go thru this. The 737 is a very safe airplane. More power changed center of lift a bit…that’s why we train to standards…I would gladly fly on the 737 Max when certified.

    1. forrest vogel, this aircraft should have been retired decades ago, it belongs in a museum, instead it was fitted with engines that it was never designed for and we all know what happened next , like an old car thats past its best thats the 737 max

    1. whats that got to do with the MAX-i-mum crap 737 ? the workers building this joke of an aircraft were slagging it off as DANGEROUS, would you have put yourself or your family on it before the crashes ? l think not

  16. I understand that the software engineers that designed the MAX flight controls were a bunch of 20 year old Indian just graduated students. I hire these guys for my unrelated business for about $15 per hour.

  17. Been there, as a pilot in Great distress!… “Total Loss of flight control reliability” did happen!
    (See USAF Lockheed C-141 “Tab-Operable” procedure.). In 1983, those little “Trim Tabs” on the wings saved more than 25 souls aboard our “out-of-control” large transport aircraft.! (caused by spastic actuators)
    Look; I’m a US Air Force retired “Heavy Aircraft” (and helos) drive; There IS a universal Engineering safety-fix for all aircraft which might encounter flight control problems (especially killer-Airbus!) when “normal systems” go haywire; uncontrollable due to flight control malfunction, (mechanical or software induced!)
    Simple recovery procedure we figured out (after 1.3 hrs of Scary, nearly gone-inverted flight) at Charleston AFB. Step 1: Disable (neutralize) All hydraulics which power flight controls! Step 2: Engage Only the “trim tabs” for all aileron and elevator controls. Step 3: You stabilize with Very slow flight control responsiveness, but Very controllable!
    Easy fix ! (trim tabs moved by separate elec wires; No computers! (or cables-only). All the fly-by-wire manufacturers need to do is add those direct trim control cables/ elec controls for immediate emergency back-up! Somebody, just “read and heed.!” Implement on All aircraft.! NOT that expensive!

  18. 737 MAX should NEVER have been certified in the first place, and now boeing and the FAA say it will be the “safest aircraft in the sky” what an insult to the 346 that are DEAD, they didnt get a choice, the scum at boeing and the FAA saw to that , break up boeing, and the FAA both have ZERO integrity.

  19. special extras for you if you order a boeing aircraft today, step ladder,string of lights, various tools , boots , ppe, used rags , metal shavings , all provided free of charge , we will even throw in a torch so you can spend all your spare time trying to find out where we left it

  20. Everybody take a deep breath and remember that these (Max’s) were flying over your head and homes for almost a year and a half 12- 15 hours a day everyday 365 days a year before the 2 crashes happened.

    1. j anderson , unfortunately the 346 cant take a “DEEP BREATH” as they have taken their “LAST BREATH” courtesy of boeing and the FAA but never mind, as the “max is probably the safest aircraft in the sky” pathetic

  21. God, the author of this opinion piece is a fing moron! The Max is likely the safest plane in the sky right now. This guy is just an idiot.

    1. john , was it part of the certification that 346 people had to die first ? engage brain if you have one, before opening your mouth, but then again your talking out of your arse anyway just like DONALD TRUMP

  22. The Max is a turd! Building an aircraft with stall tendencies built in is a formula for disaster. Boeing should be ashamed for producing this turd. My thoughts early on were Boeing should be forced to buy back all Max’s they sold. After that all of them should be sent to the scrap heap. It’s time to quit applying Band-Aids and build a new aircraft from the ground up.

  23. Why would u want to avoid the aircraft….they were banned for such a long time … but for a purpose that is to fix the problem. seems like it’s fixed…so they must have done many test flights and all…so after doing all of that…they are confident about the aircraft..so why would u want to scare people. There’s nothing wrong in the aircraft now as they r flying again…and there’s you who wants people to avoid flying the max….guess u don’t have any knowledge or experience about aviation or the max. Pathetic

  24. Are u a pilot or an engineer or the designer. Do you have any idea how much deadly crashes happened with Airbus? Do you know the emotion or the pain attached with the 737 max? Don’t spread hatred. Encourage people to fly more.

  25. Mike, thats the point ,boeing said no extra simulator training was required to fly the max because it was almost the same as the previous model “NG” ,which is a blatant lie ,their reputation for producing a quality product is finished , and so it should be, everybody responsible for signing off this piece of crap should be in jail ,im sure most of the workers at boeing are decent people ,let down by the total arseholes at the top and that applies to the FAA as well

  26. why not just scrap the piece of shit 737 max and design a brand new plane ?, airbus are producing a better product at the moment, and if boeing doesnt get its shit together they will be selling less and less aircraft in the future , and with china on the up, it wont be a boeing/ airbus duopoly for too much longer either, more competition is coming and its coming soon

  27. I can’t believe this is even an article. If you don’t think that the MAX will be the safest aircraft after 20 months of intense scrutiny then you need to crawl out from under your rock and wake up.

  28. new, 40 year old, 737 max introductory offer : a one way trip to the other side, last rights, flowers, nice organ music, and framed picture of your newly deceased family member all included free of charge, book today

    1. 737-500. Your joining the gun pretty quick. Prove it wasn’t related to poor pilot training/experience. Please don’t be pointing fingers before you know any facts

  29. If you’re so good, why don’t you design an airplane. I think we both know the answer to that one. Just quit with your uneducated opinions already

  30. M.C.A.S stands for, Make Crap Aircraft Software, but they have a new piece of software its called, T.U.R.D.S and that stands for Totally. Useless. Recovery. Detection. System. (available as an extra)

  31. Haha you’re just an internet troll. Figures. Still have zero experience in the aviation field trying to prove to everyone you know everything about the Max. You know diddly squat. You’re a bloody joke. And being a millionaire is nothing these days you twit. Easy to do. Go read your online aviation week because we all here want to learn about the aviation industry from you. You make me laugh.

  32. Then keep your uneducated opinions to yourself. If you don’t want to fly on the max then so be it. I’m definitely not going to miss you on my plane.

  33. For all the Boeing lovers with that catchy ‘…not going’ slogan. Here’s mine; If it ain’t an Airbus…you’re nuts! Or…’If it’s a Max your judgement is lax’…Or my absolute fave; Boeing, Boeing, Gone.
    I will do everything in my power to make sure I do not have to fly on one of these ‘aero planes’; at least until they have maybe 10 years clear of any total airframe loss. As for those spouting on about military aircraft being deliberately unstable; the occupants have ejection seats.

  34. I refuse to be a guinea pig for an aircraft with proven issues, issues that, for whatever reasons, cost the lives of hundreds of people in fatal crashes. I might change my mind a few YEARS down the road IF the Max has been shown to be safe after YEARS of use.

  35. I liked the story and the comments are certainly entertaining. We have a long haul flight on a Max in a couple weeks. There are no viable alternatives for our trip as we would loose our Covid test window. And we really don’t want another 10 hours of airports & planes. I do, so,so, so blame Boeing and the FAA for the F-ups killing people. A high distrust of major corporations goes way back to tobacco companies and others. But as stated, we are in a new generation of flight and travel. I embrace technology…..when it works. Hear that Microsoft??? So we will fly and trust in our faiths that they have it right. But I would appreciate if something happens next week to a Max (or anytime for that matter.) that the people will bring the two aforementioned flight operations to the ground, for good! Please?

  36. I changed my flight from the Max to a 737-700 (adding 1 1/2 hour flight time and an additional stop) to AVOID the Max. I will continue to monitor what aircraft that will be assigned for any future flights and will change any future flights UNTIL I no longer can do so in the future. This DEATHTRAP will have to PROVE to be sound worthy before I will set foot in and fly in the Max.

  37. 737 Max is a dangerous airplane. Boeing is a very, very poor manufacturing company. Many technical problems combined with inferior work force. I worked at Boeing for 7 years, including at Flight Test in Seattle. I will NEVER fly in a 737 Max. It will kill you.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *