RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The grounding of the 737 Boeing Max fleet in the United States continues to have repercussions for travelers. It could now impact the entire summer traveling season.
“I do a fair amount of business travel and that will have an impact on the number of travelers and finding seats,” said traveler Dax Khufuss.
Southwest Airlines announced big changes to its flight schedule today because of the unavailability of the 737 Max aircraft. It said the changes will actually make its flight schedule more reliable.
Southwest said it’s now canceling its flights using the Boeing 737 Max 8 through August. It said 160 flights will be impacted per day during peak summer travel season. Anyone flying Southwest during that time is encouraged to check flight statuses.
Southwest also promised passengers who already booked summer travel can rebook without any fees.
However, CBS travel editor Peter Greenberg warns “you may not be rebooked on a flight you want or on a route that you want.”
Southwest isn’t the only airline scrambling to make changes. American Airlines and United are also no longer flying the 737 Max series.
“Your fares might go up because the law of supply and demand kicks in,” Greenberg said. ”Fewer planes means fewer seats, which means more planes will be full and prices will be adjusted accordingly.”
For travelers, this also means finding workarounds during a time stressing about summer vacations.
“I would try and book the first flight of the day,’’ Greenberg said. “Book routes that are alternative routes and look at alternative airports that might have alternative service.”
As it tries to rectify the problem, Boeing has scheduled scores of test flights as it tests software updates for the 737 Max jets.
“As for the 737, if I had to, I’d get on it I would,“ air traveler Nick Smith said. “To get from point A to point B quicker, I don’t have too many options.”
“I have confidence in the system,” Kuhfuss said. “I realize there are errors, but I think it’s still a safe and secure way to travel.”
Also pilots need to have a say in the aircraft’s return to service.
As a result, the FAA met Friday with representatives of affected U.S. airlines and the pilots union to decide what needs to be done before returning the aircraft to service.