HOUSTON — No time is a good time to deal with travel issues, but a busy spring break week can make matters even worse.
The TSA expects 107 million people to fly over the next month. So what does the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 planes mean for the average air traveler?
Three U.S. airliners use that type of aircraft. Southwest Airlines has 34 MAX 8s used in 160 daily flights. American Airlines has 24 MAX 8s used in 85 flights per day, and United has 14 MAX 9s, the newer version, used in 40 daily flights.
However, compared to total daily flights, very few are proportionally affected. Southwest operates 4,000 daily flights, American: 6,700 and United: 4,700.
“Accommodating passengers shouldn’t be as difficult, say, if they had grounded a more common aircraft type,” said aviation expert Josh Verde.
Verde believes Wednesday’s decision probably didn’t come as a shock to the airlines.
“I think the airlines were working ahead of time just in case there was a grounding of the aircraft type to look for alternate spares and to accommodate passengers. At least (to) have a plan in place," he said.
All three airlines said they are using spare planes and are rebooking passengers on other flights automatically. Rebooking fees for impacted passengers have been waived, and travelers can opt for a refund if their flight is canceled.
“I think, generally speaking, travelers in the Houston area are going to have very minimal impact. At least that’s what we are hoping for," Verde said.