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Are Boeing 737 Max planes safe? This travel agent lets you exclude them from search results

Max 9s were grounded temporarily by America’s Federal Aviation Administration following a cabin panel blowout during an Alaska Airlines flight.
Max 9s were grounded temporarily by America’s Federal Aviation Administration following a cabin panel blowout during an Alaska Airlines flight. Copyright Y S
Copyright Y S
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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Max 9s were grounded temporarily by America’s Federal Aviation Administration following a cabin panel blowout during an Alaska Airlines flight.

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A major travel search engine is giving people the option of excluding flights using Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft from its results.

Kayak added the aircraft to an existing filter after a piece of fuselage blew out of a Max 9 plane during an Alaska Airlines flight.

The online travel agent says it has seen a jump in users wanting to avoid the airliners since the incident earlier this month.

Kayak began allowing customers to filter out certain aircraft back in 2019.

Why do people avoid flying on certain planes?

“[The company] introduced its aircraft filter in March 2019 following safety concerns around the Boeing 737 Max combined with customer feedback to make KAYAK’s filters more granular,” the group says.

The airliners were grounded worldwide between March 2019 and December 2020 (or longer in some countries) after 346 people died in two similar crashes: Lion Air Flight 610 on 29 October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on 10 March 2019.

Travellers also sometimes have preferences as to seat locations or row numbers (some airlines skip row 13 because of superstition) which leads to them avoiding certain types of jet.

However, the filter was relatively little used compared to other options like airports or number of stops.

Following the Alaska Airlines incident involving a Boeing 737 Max 9 plane on 5 January, the company says there was a 15-fold increase in use of the setting recorded between 6 and 10 January.

“The jump from low numbers led to Kayak making the airplane-type filter easier to find. We also added the ability to filter specifically by the 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft models,” the company says.

Now users can filter out the same model of plane involved in the Alaska Airlines incident.

Are Boeing 737 Max 9 planes safe?

Max 9s were grounded temporarily by America’s Federal Aviation Administration following the cabin panel blowout.

However, after a ‘thorough inspection and maintenance process’, the jets are set to return to service in the next few days.

“We grounded the Boeing 737 Max 9 within hours of the incident over Portland and made clear this aircraft would not go back into service until it was safe,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a statement.

“The exhaustive, enhanced review our team completed after several weeks of information gathering gives me and the FAA confidence to proceed to the inspection and maintenance phase.”

When asked if the company was concerned the Max 9 filter might compound fears over flying on those planes despite being deemed safe to reenter service, Kayak responded: “Our goal is to provide travellers with the ability to tailor their travel plans based on their personal needs and preferences.”

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