Passengers on Southwest Airlines thought they were flying on a grounded Boeing 737 Max after confusion about their onboard safety cards
- Southwest Airlines passengers expressed concerns after the safety card on board their planes suggested that they might have been on a Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
- The airline said that the plane was still grounded and that the safety card is used for more than one plane model.
- Safety procedures on the 737 Max and more widely operated 737-800 are identical.
- Passengers on other airlines have experienced similar confusion.
- Boeing 737 Max jets remain grounded around the world as Boeing works on a software update to the aircraft that was involved in two fatal crashes.
Southwest Airlines passengers expressed their concerns on social media after confusion over onboard safety cards led many to believe they were flying on a Boeing 737 Max, the plane model which was grounded by regulators after being involved in two fatal crashes in under six months.
The airline, however, insisted it was a simple mix up, saying that the same safety card is used for multiple plane models.Travellers tweeted at the airline on Sunday after they noticed that the safety card said that it was for a 737 Max aircraft, which has been grounded around the world after two fatal crashes that killed almost 350 people.
Passengers questioned whether the airline had actually grounded the plane model, and described seeing the 737 Max 8 listed on the safety card as "nerve wracking."
But Southwest clarified in response to customer fears that all of its 737 Max jets have been grounded following instructions from the Federal Aviation Administration, and said that it uses the same safety card for multiple plane models, all of which are listed on the card.
"Hi, just wondering why I was on a 737 max 8 yesterday. I thought they were grounded until end of May? Nerve wracking!," one passenger tweeted.
Southwest replied, saying "You were not on a MAX 8 aircraft. You were on a Boeing 737 800 series" and clarified that the safety procedures for both aircraft models are the same for passengers.
"The Safety Card for Customers is the same card for both the 737 MAX 8 and the 737 800 series. The layout of the aircraft from the Customer perspective is the same," the airline wrote in another tweet.
Southwest apologized to other passengers for the "confusion."
Passengers on other airlines have experienced similar confusion. A Norwegian passenger tweeted on Wednesday that she noticed the plane model listed on the safety card after takeoff. "BOEING 737 MAX 8!!! Are they not banned?! Panic!," she wrote.
Norweigan said in a statement on Sunday that its safety cards are designed for both the 737-800 and the 737 Max aircraft, The Sun reported.
"The Boeing 737-800 is not affected by the global grounding by aviation authorities of the 737 MAX aircraft," Norweigan said.
"Our safety cards on board display the two model variants since passenger safety instructions on both aircraft are the same."
Boeing is working on update to the 737 Max 8's automated anti-stall software system, which it confirmed experienced similar issues on the fatal Lion Air flight in October 2018 and the fatal Ethiopian Airlines flight in March.
The 737 Max fleet will not return to service until the update is approved by the FAA and its equivalent regulators around the world.
Southwest has more exposure to the 737 Max than any other US airline. Around 6.3% of its available seat miles were from the 737 Max as of March, Stifel Financial said.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg apologized for the crashes on Thursday, saying that Boeing is "sorry for the lives lost" and that the "tragedies continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and mind."
Muilenburg said Boeing has had its "top engineers and technical experts working tirelessly" and that the company will give pilots "training and additional educational materials" to deal with the software system.
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Hi, there. You were not on a MAX 8 aircraft. You were on a Boeing 737 800 series. -Linnea- Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) April 7, 2019
Southwest has removed our Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from service in accordance with FAA requirements. As always, the most up to date flight status is available here: https://t.co/jZgOomCMxC. Our 737-800 and 737 MAX 8 use the same safety cards. Sorry for the confusion. -Shelley- Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) April 7, 2019
Hi, Brittany! Southwest has removed our Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from service in accordance with FAA requirements. That said, it's important to note that the Boeing 737-800 and 737-MAX 8 aircraft share the same safety card. We apologize for any confusion! -Lauren- Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) April 8, 2019