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.
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.
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.
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.