Airlines Ground 737 Max During Busy Summer Travel Season: 6 Tips for Navigating Disruptions
Announcements from both Southwest and American Airlines that they will pull all 737 Max aircraft from their fleets until at least August is leaving travelers pondering how this may affect their summer vacation plans. The good news is that planning these changes months ahead of this busy season will allow the airlines the time to more smoothly transition flight schedules and adjust customer bookings in light of the reduced capacity that comes with these circumstances. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s guaranteed smooth sailing for summer vacationers. Here are six tips for navigating the potential disruptions the 737 Max grounds may have on summer travel:
- Make flight changes now. If you’ve already booked spring and summer flights, check to see if any of your flights are on 737 Max aircraft. If they are, contact your airline to find out your options for changing flights. While Southwest and American have grounded all of their 737 Max flights through August and United through early-July, other airlines may continue to ground more of these aircraft and as summer flights fill up, it will become more difficult to find alternative options. The good news is that airlines are proactively waiving change fees for customers with reservations on these aircraft.
- Continue to check in with your airline. As the airlines adapt their flight schedules to account for fewer aircraft, changes are bound to affect many summer travelers. Sign up for proactive airline alerts and download your airline’s app so you can easily check for any changes to your flights.
- Know what’s covered by travel insurance. If you have already booked travel insurance or are considering it, find out if disruptions resulting from this airline issue are covered as unforeseen changes that are beyond your control.
- Get ahead of a price surge, book flights now. Airfare prices are a supply and demand issue and grounded aircraft means less capacity and more expensive flights, particularly during one of the busiest travel periods of the year. If you haven’t already booked your summer flights, now is the time to lock in a fare before they likely continue to rise.
- Larger airline = more options. If you’re particularly worried about more summer delays and cancellations, consider that booking with a larger airline means there are typically more options for rebooking on alternative flights. Find out which carriers offer the most flights per day to/from your origin and destination airports and build your itinerary with this in mind.
- Be flexible. Broaden your flight options by being more flexible with everything from your travel dates, airport search and departure time. Broadening your travel dates opens you up to flights on less-busy travel days, taking early a.m. flights leaves more room to be rebooked should your flight be delayed or cancelled, and widening your airport search radius will increase your airline options.