Passengers on Southwest and American airlines can expect new travel arrangements after the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday ordered the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft operated by U.S. carriers.
The FAA order also covers the Max 9 aircraft flown by United Airlines, which will automatically rebook passengers.
Up until this grounding, Southwest and American continued flying the Boeing 737 Max 8 after a crash Sunday killed all onboard an Ethiopian Airlines plane — the second devastating loss of a Max 8 flight in less than six months.
Here’s what travelers should do next:
1. Find out if your flight has been affected
Contact your airline to see what’s happening with your flight.
Southwest Airlines has removed its 34 Boeing 737 Max 8 models from service. In a statement, the company said the aircraft account for less than 5% of the airline’s daily flights.
American Airlines has grounded 24 Max 8 aircraft.
United Airlines, which doesn’t fly Max 8 models, has stopped flying its 14 Max 9 aircraft. The carrier estimates that the grounding affects about 40 flights per day.
2. Rebook without fees
Southwest will allow customers who were on a canceled Max 8 flight to rebook without any additional fees or fare charges within 14 days of their original travel dates. You can rebook on the Southwest app or website or over the phone. See the travel advisory at the airline’s website.
American Airlines will allow customers to rebook themselves on a different flight on the website or app. The company says that passengers who purchased their ticket through a travel agent should contact their agent to make changes.
United Airlines will automatically rebook passengers or switch out the aircraft. Customers will receive a notification if they are rebooked.
3. Get a refund
Southwest is offering refunds for canceled flights. American Airlines said that if a flight is canceled, passengers can request a refund by going to their website.
Bottom line: Contact your airline to find out what your options are — as this situation is developing — and alter your travel plans as needed.