CHICAGO (CBS) — It might be July, but it’s not too early to think about planning for holiday travel, and if you’re flying, you could get booked on a Boeing 737 Max, even though the jets remain grounded due to safety concerns after two fatal crashes.
CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg said it’s unlikely the planes will be flying again in 2019.
“Boeing will be lucky if the plane is certified or flies in the first quarter of next year,” he said.
However, the three U.S. airlines that fly 737 Max planes – United, American, and Southwest – are banking on those planes being back in the air by fall.
If you’re booking a flight for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you should double check the type of plane on the flight.
Southwest has the 737 Max back on the schedule in early October. Both American and United have the 737 Max back on the schedule in November.
Greenberg said that’s not realistic.
“If you still have a reservation on a Boeing 737 Max for the rest of this year, odds are very very good you won’t be flying on it. So you might as well call the airline now, and see if they’ll rebook you on another airplane,” he said.
As for Chicago-based Boeing, the two deadly crashes involving the 737 Max have hit overall sales hard, dropping from 453 planes sold in the first half of 2018 to just 108 during the first six months of 2019.
Despite the woes with the 737 Max, don’t expect Boeing to go out of business.
“Boeing is a very resilient, strong company. They may have to have some changes in management,” Greenberg said.
If you do find yourself booked on a flight scheduled for a 737 Max, United Airlines said it is automatically booking customers on alternate flights if their original flight is cancelled. American said it is working to finalize customer assistance policies for when the 737 Max returns to the skies. Southwest said it always allows customers to change travel plans without paying a fee.