United Starts Commercial Boeing 737 MAX 8 Operations

United has started commercial operations with its brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8. The aircraft made its maiden passenger flight on 16th July, flying from Houston to Las Vegas. Let’s find out more about this new aircraft and why it is special in the United fleet.

United 737 MAX 8
United took delivery of its first MAX 8 in June and unveiled its new cabin product at the end of the month. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying

In the sky

Two weeks after first unveiling its new 737 MAX 8 to the public, United has sent the aircraft on its first passenger flight. Flight UA789 from Houston to Las Vegas was operated by the most popular MAX variant, and featured United’s new flagship narrowbody product onboard. The flight departed at 12:26 PM and arrived in Las Vegas at 13:00 local times, completing the journey in 2 hours and 35 minutes.

While this was the first revenue flight for the United’s MAX 8, it was far from the first flight. Map and Data: RadarBox.com

However, this is wasn’t the first time this plane has flown. United’s first MAX 8 is registered N27251, and had some interesting flights before this one. Last week, it flew from Houston to Los Angeles and onward to Kahului, Hawaii, according to FlightRadar24.com. These longer flights were likely to prepare crew and test the aircraft before its deployment.

Now that the plane is in service, it can be spotted on the Houston-Las Vegas-Newark route for those looking to fly it.


So why is there so much excitement for this new aircraft variant? While United already operates the MAX 9, the smaller MAX 8 offers a host of new premium features for passengers. The most prominent one is the addition of in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens in every seat.

The aircraft also features power outlets at every seat, USB charging, and larger overhead bins to store bags. All of this makes the travel experiences ever so slightly better and ensures you don’t run out of baggage space for your suitcase.

Seatback screens
Seats in all cabins are now equipped with IFE screens, something absent on the MAX 9. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying

The plane is split into three cabins of first class, economy plus, and standard economy. First seats 16 passengers in a 2-2 layout and offers a recliner-style seat. Economy plus seats a huge 54 passengers and offers extra legroom, and there are 96 standard economy seats.

Overall, this 166-seater plane is likely the best one to pick on United’s short- and medium-haul routes in the US. For a full cabin tour of the aircraft, you can read our coverage from the unveiling event here.

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United has taken delivery of two more 737 MAX 8s this month, according to Planespotters.net. These aircraft will likely come into service in the next few weeks and boost the presence of this airframe on United’s network.

However, the MAX 8s are certainly not in short supply, United doubling down and buying another 50 as a part of its mega 270 aircraft order. For now, expect to see this plane play a larger role in the fleet as the airline shifts towards a more premium travel experience.

What do you think about United’s newest aircraft? Let us know in the comments.