After part of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliner exploded in midair just minutes after takeoff from Portland on Jan. 5, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded about 170 Max 9 planes. There is a surge in air traffic that has canceled thousands of flights and disrupted many passengers.
On Wednesday, the FAA approved inspection and maintenance procedures for the planes, allowing the grounded Max 9 planes to fly again.
The airline said it plans to fly the Max 9s again this week, and Alaska Airlines began using the plane again on Friday with a flight from Seattle to San Diego. If passengers want to avoid flying, here's what they need to know about the airline and their rights.
Which airlines use Max 9?
Of the 215 Boeing Max 9s flying worldwide, United Airlines operates 79. Their combined fleets represent 70 percent of Max 9 jets in service.
Other operators relying on the Max 9 include Panama's Copa Airlines, Aeromexico, Turkish Airlines, Fly Dubai and Icelandair.
Airlines in general Share detailed information About all flights on their sites.
When will airlines restart Max 9?
Alaska said in a statement Final inspections are underway which take 12 hours for each flight. The airline said it plans to bring back “the first few flights” for flights scheduled for Friday.
United said in a statement that it is preparing Max 9 flights to return to service starting Sunday. However, United Airlines spokesman Josh Freed said the flights “may be used as spares” this Friday.
Copa, which has grounded 21 MAX 9 flights, said in a statement that it would “gradually restore previously canceled flights” from Thursday and return to a full schedule on Sunday.
How do I tell if I have a reservation at Max 9?
Passengers can usually find information about their flight type when they book their flights online, during the seat-selection process or elsewhere on the airline's website.
After booking, passengers can find the flight type on the airline's mobile app in the booking details. For Alaska, this is available in the “Details” section of the app. Flight tracking websites like FlightAware also contain flight information if users search for specific flights using the flight number.
But this is not guaranteed. Although passengers know in advance which flight they will be flying, it is always subject to change. Airlines change flights at the last minute depending on factors such as weather and logistics.
What if I don't want to fly the Max 9?
Both United and Alaska allow passengers to cancel or change their flights without paying because of the Max 9 inspections. Alaska's Waiver Valid for flights up to February 2. “After that, guests can call our reservations team and we'll put them on another flight at no additional charge, including our saver fees,” an Alaska spokesperson said.
United's discount for flights through January 28.
Airlines have different policies covering cancellations and refunds, depending on factors like when you booked, how far in advance you want to cancel, and what type of fare you've purchased. Once the Max 9 discounts expire, passengers will no longer have penalty-free rebooking or refund rights for flights they wish to cancel on their own.
For future bookings, Kayak has created a new filter to exclude Max 9 flights. That often means booking flights on a carrier that doesn't use them. But on some routes with a limited number of carriers, that may not be an option. For example, Alaska is the only carrier that flies nonstop between Anchorage and Kona on Hawaii's Big Island. The airline mostly uses the Max 9 on this route. According to FlightAwareA flight tracking website.
But experts say it doesn't make sense to avoid flights that are subject to strict scrutiny.
Aviation investigator Robert W. Man Jr. said.
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