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Unfortunately this aircraft is notorious for its safety, with the latest fuselage hole midair incident sparking fear. Online booking systems added a filter to avoid Boeing 737 Max.

If I book a flight with this filter enabled, am I guaranteed to avoid flying with this dangerous aircraft?

I am scared because from my experience airlines might change aircrafts at the last minute, even using aircrafts of different airlines (e.g. Lufthansa used an Airbus Neo A320 from BA to fly Athens-London, when Munich was hit by a snowstorm that morning).


Related 2019 question What Happens when Passenger Refuses to Fly Boeing 737 Max? (Horrific to put into perspective this aircraft's bad history).

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    Do you have to fly? I am avoiding the problem by not flying at all.
    – Willeke
    Jan 26 at 20:44
  • @Willeke yes, I need to. I feel super safe in aircrafts, just not this particular one, given the number of incidents.
    – gsamaras
    Jan 26 at 20:50
  • Probably the only way to guarantee is fly an airliner that does not have them. But even then you might get rebooked on a different airline. The other thing to consider is they have now been looked at more closely than anything else…
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 26 at 21:06
  • Exactly @JonCuster, like the Athens case I mentioned. I thought that they were looked close enough after the two related crashes some years back, so I wouldn't like to risk it.
    – gsamaras
    Jan 26 at 21:17
  • Just to be clear, it’s not a “fuselage hole” (as happened on Southwest 812 in 2011, Southwest 2294 in 2009, Aloha Airlines 243 in 1988 or on the Comets in 1954 for instance), this was a plug which blew out. Take a look at the Aloha flight pictures for what a “hole” really means.
    – jcaron
    Jan 26 at 21:33

1 Answer 1

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It’s difficult to have any certainty, as “operational reasons” can lead to aircraft changes up to the last minute, with a different aircraft from the same airline or even an aircraft for a different airline. However:

  • You can use the filters you mention. Even on sites which do not have those filters, you can usually see the scheduled aircraft type for each flight.

  • With limited exceptions, long-haul flights will not use that aircraft type.

  • Much larger aircraft (widebodies such as 747, 777, 787, 330, 340, 350 or 380) will nearly never be replaced with a small 737 Max. In extreme cases they could switch to multiple smaller planes, but that’s probably extremely rare.

  • You can pick only airlines which do not have any 737 Max aircraft (check that the flight is indeed operated by the airline itself and not a codeshare), especially those which have Airbus-only fleets. This does not guarantee that they will not have to switch to an aircraft leased from another airline, but that remains less likely than a switch to another aircraft of the same airline.

  • When they switch to a wet-leased aircraft, those are usually virtually unknown airlines with quite old planes (MD80, very old 737 or 320…). It would be very surprising if you ended up on a Max in those cases.

  • More generally, the Max are rather the aircraft the airlines want to fly and have issues getting their hands on rather than backup aircraft. So you are a lot more likely to have a flight scheduled on a Max which ends up being operated with a different aircraft than the opposite.

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