American Airlines Cancels Crazy 7 Hour Long 737 MAX Flight Plans

American Airlines’ plans to fly its Boeing 737 MAX on what many would consider the “worst flight in the world” from the US to South America are canceled. Although the seven hour route remains unchanged, the airline will continue to use the 757 aircraft for the flight.

Amercan Airlines 737 aircraft
AA announced in November it would use the 737 MAX instead of the 757s when flying MIA to BSB. Photo: AA.

Proposed plans for the 737 MAX

American Airlines announced back in November that it would be changing the aircraft that operates the route between Miami (MIA) and Brasilia (BSB). Currently, the airline uses the Boeing 757s for the seven-and-a-half  hour journey, covering a distance of approximately 5,800km. Beginning in May, American Airlines expected to introduce its 737 MAX as the replacement aircraft.

The announcement came as a surprise considering the drawbacks of this model. Designed for short to medium haul routes, it’s not best placed to give passengers a comfortable ride on such a long journey. The 737 MAX is smaller and not really designed for a good flight experience, especially when traveling for more than seven hours.

Compared to the 757, the Boeing 737 MAX has less seating room in all cabins and less seat padding too. The bathrooms are also smaller. One of the biggest changes in the switch to the 737 MAX, however, was going to be the in-flight meal.

American Airlines ordered its 737 MAX aircraft without adding a hot oven on the plane. Passengers would therefore no longer receive a hot meal for the entire seven-hour flight. Instead, a deluxe snack box was planned to be offered as an alternative.

American Airlines aircraft interior
The proposed aircraft switch would mean an inferior flight experience for passengers. Photo: AA.

The equipment change would have been was reflected in the travel itinerary at the time of booking. Although flight amenities changed, the overall pricing of the flight remained the same, whether flying Business Class or Economy.

AA will continue to use the 757s

American Airlines has since canceled its plans to use to 737 MAX aircraft for the journey between MIA and BSB. The 757 and all of its amenities will remain. But why did American Airlines want to operate the route using a different aircraft?

The route from Miami to Brasilia is underperforming for the airline. The demand for the flight isn’t as high as the airline initially projected when it was launched. The profitability of using the 757 vs. switching to the 737 MAX was a major factor in the decision to make the change.

American Airlines uses a range of aircraft based not only on the route itself, but also on how much revenue is expected from that service. Popular routes will see a Boeing 767 on the itinerary, whereas the less busy trips will have the 757 allocated. Lastly, for the thinnest routes of all, it would be the 737 MAX.

Due to low numbers of travelers on this particular route, the 737 MAX would have provided more than enough capacity to maintain operations for the route. The only other option would have been to cancel the route altogether.

Amercan Airlines 737 aircraft side view
AA cancels plans to use the 737 MAX on its 7-hour flight between US and South America. Photo: AA.

How long American Airlines expects to fly to the South American destination remains uncertain, at least while the route performance remains low. Until then, passengers can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to a bit more comfort and a hot meal during their travels.

7 comments
  1. As long as the cabin is adapted to “long haul” flight, with the right spacing, with internal entertainment, the right kitchen stuff, and so on, I really don’t see why such airplane couldn’t be a good replacement…
    The width of the cabin is exactly the same on both aircraft ! So only the internal arrangement would make a difference…
    Do I miss some elements?

    1. This post erroneously attributes the lack of comfort to the airplane, not the configuration. AA was not planning to use a different international configuration for this long flight than they use on domestic flights. That’s the comfort issue. As you say, it has absolutely nothing to do with the width of the cabin, which is indeed exactly the same as the 757, and the length of the cabin doesn’t affect the comfort of the seats. And the article attributing the padding in the seat cushions to the 7M8 rather than a decision by AA management is ridiculous.

  2. In defense of this idea, passengers have proven willing to pay for any atrocity committed against them to save a few dollars in fares. And the Max 8 has lots of basic economy seats. There would likely be a huge market for extremely price conscious customers to a third world country like Brazil, even in basic econ for 7 hours.

  3. Norwegian operates (operated?) the MAX 8 between SWF and DUB/SNN, which on the westbound leg is over 7 hours. Seat pitch is a nice cozy 29-31 inches, with about 2″ of foam padding. On the other hand, you can snag a promotional off-peak sale for about $250 USD return, so you tell me if it’s a valid trade-off.

  4. There are other comfort considerations flying across the equator (ITCZ) in a small plane at attitude is no fun for either the crew or the passengers. THE 8 hours (since the 757 is doing it in 7.5 hours and the 8max does not fly as fast) is one thing, but add a couple of hours in severe turbulence in the dark since these are redeye flights both directions.

  5. I don’t see why not I’ve flown copa airlines flight on a 737-900 panama Los Angeles 7 hours many times and it isn’t uncomfortable

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recommended: