Alaska and United ground 737 jets, cancel hundreds of flights


Update on what to expect

This story has been updated to reflect Monday cancellations...

Just days after the U.S. Department of Transportation was popping champagne corks in announcing that 2023 was the best year in more than a decade for flight cancellations, things have taken a sharp -- and unexpected -- turn the other way. 

After a mid-flight door blowout of a Boeing 737 Max 9 Alaska Airlines flight caused chunks of the aircraft to fall to the ground over Oregon, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered the temporary grounding of those aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory.

“The FAA is requiring immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes before they can return to flight,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said.

“Safety will continue to drive our decision-making as we assist the NTSB’s (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation into Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.”

Who does this impact?

Two major U.S. airlines use Boeing 727 MAX 9 aircraft – Alaska Airlines and United Airlines. United has 79 MAX 9 planes and Alaska has 65 and both conducted inspections over the weekend.

How many flights does this impact? ConsumerAffairs found there were 231 United flights and 163 Alaska flights listed as “canceled” for Sunday, Jan. 7, on FlightAware.

For Monday, January 8, United has 204 flights canceled and Alaska 139.

In a post on X, United Airlines said that it has temporarily suspended all flights scheduled to fly those planes and will work with impacted customers to find them alternative travel. 

United suggested that anyone who has an upcoming flight check their United app for updates and assistance resources.

But early Sunday, the airline posted a note to customers, saying this: “Hi there, thank you for reaching out. We'd like to look into this for you. Can you please DM (direct message) us the confirmation number, the passenger’s name, and the date of birth?”

Some planes are back in service

In a separate post, Alaska said that its maintenance team had cleared 18 of its 65 MAX 9s and had returned those to service.

As far as travelers who might be impacted by the 47 MAX 9 planes Alaska has, the airline said that it has a “flexible travel policy in place nationwide and you may change or cancel your flight.”

“Guests affected by changes or those looking to adjust their travel plans can explore rebooking options on [or at this link].”

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