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Boeing 737 MAX 8 FAQs

Southwest Airlines has been in constant contact with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing, and we are complying with the FAA requirement issued Wednesday, March 13 for all U.S. airlines to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8. Our goal is to continue operating our schedule with every available aircraft in our fleet to meet our Customers’ expectations during the busy travel season.

 

Below are answers to some of our Customers’ most frequently asked questions regarding the 737 MAX 8. 

 

What is Southwest’s timeline for returning the 737 MAX to service?

Southwest estimates service will resume no sooner than the second quarter of 2021.

 

Is Southwest confident in the 737 MAX?

Yes, we are. The Southwest Team has carefully reviewed the FAA-required software enhancements, revised operational procedures, and Pilot training requirements. With these changes, we believe the MAX is now among the most reviewed and tested commercial aircraft in the world, and we have confidence in our ability to operate the MAX in accordance with FAA requirements. Additionally, aviation regulators from countries around the world have reviewed Boeing’s changes to the aircraft and the FAA’s new requirements.

 

Related Video: Alan Kasher, Southwest Pilot and Senior Vice President of Air Operations, Discusses the 737 MAX 8 Return to Service at Southwest Airlines

 

Are Southwest Pilots experienced at flying the 737 MAX?

Southwest Pilots are among the most experienced Boeing 737 aviators in the industry -- in fact, it’s the only aircraft we fly. Our Pilots flew almost 40,000 flights with the MAX prior to the grounding, which is more than 89,000 flight hours. We know the 737, we train in the 737, and we take our mission to return the 737 MAX safely to the skies very seriously.

 

Will Southwest Pilots undergo additional training for the 737 MAX?

Yes! Before we bring the aircraft back into service, every active Southwest Pilot will undergo FAA-required flight training in a 737 MAX simulator.

 

In fact, Southwest has spent more than a year obtaining, installing, and certifying nine 737 MAX simulators that join 15 other 737-700 and 737-800 simulators as part of our Pilot training center in Dallas. To supplement the flight training, all of our active Pilots will complete computer-based training modules reviewing MAX procedures and operations, as required both by the FAA and Southwest. 

 

What is Southwest’s process for returning the MAX to service?

To prepare for service, there will be a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to remove Southwest’s 34 MAX aircraft from storage, install the new software, and perform maintenance checks on every aircraft. Additionally, our Flight Operations Team will conduct Readiness Flights by flying each Southwest 737 MAX multiple times, without Customers onboard, prior to welcoming you and our fellow Southwest Employees back onboard.

 

What changes has Boeing made to the 737 MAX?

We understand that Boeing has made changes to the flight control system that now compares input from two angle of attack sensors as opposed to one; the aircraft only responds if data from both sensors agree and only activates once per event; and Pilots always have the ability to override the aircraft’s input.

 

The Southwest Pilot Leadership Team has reviewed the software and training updates proposed by Boeing, and required by the FAA, and has expressed confidence that the changes will add another layer of safety to the MAX.

 

Additionally, Southwest believes the MAX will be among the most reviewed and tested commercial aircraft in the world, and we have confidence in our ability to operate the MAX in accordance with FAA requirements.

 

What are Customers’ options if they don’t want to fly on a 737 MAX?

Southwest’s goal is to provide transparency and flexibility to Customers when the 737 MAX 8 returns to service. The temporary policy flexibilities will include allowing Customers booked on a 737 MAX 8 to request a change to a flight on one of our 737-700 or 737-800 aircraft as they approach their departure date, subject to seat availability. There will be no fare difference charged so long as the new flight includes the same origin and destination cities. Please be aware the flight a Customer changes to may ultimately depart on a 737 MAX 8, as aircraft type always remains subject to change per Southwest's Contract of Carriage.

 

If a Customer chooses not to travel, they also may request a full refund of refundable tickets back to the original form of payment. Nonrefundable tickets may be cancelled, and the funds will be converted to reusable travel funds for the originally ticketed Customer, in accordance with Southwest’s travel fund policies.

 

We will communicate specific details on policy flexibilities, including the duration, as we move closer to putting the MAX back into our schedule in 2021.

 

How can a Customer learn if they’re flying on a 737 MAX?

Southwest estimates the 737 MAX will not return to service until at least the second quarter of 2021. Customers are able to view the scheduled aircraft type on their itinerary. Please keep in mind that aircraft swaps can occur, meaning the scheduled aircraft at the time of booking may be different than the aircraft type scheduled on the day of travel. We encourage Customers to check aircraft type closer to the scheduled departure date.

 

Related Article: How do I look up my aircraft type? 

 

How can I get in touch with a Customer Service Representative?

Customers can reach Southwest Airlines Customer Service and Support at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA or choose another on Southwest's "Contact Us" page.

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