United Won’t Force Customers To Fly On The Boeing 737 MAX

It was previously reported that United Airlines expects the Boeing 737 MAX to remain grounded until January 6. However, airline CEO Oscar Munoz won’t force customers to board the aircraft once its back in operation.

Boeing 737 MAX, United Airlines, Grounded
The Boeing 737 MAX has now been grounded for almost nine months. Photo: United Airlines

Not in any rush

Speaking today at The Aviation Club UK, the executive shared how his airline is not in any rush to get the aircraft back in the sky. United is prioritizing safety above all else, and understands that procedures need to be done in order to ensure this.

“It’s quite simple for us. We really do focus on the safety and security of not only our customers but our employees as well,” Munoz said at the talk, attended by Simple Flying.


“So, we await the overall procedural regulatory process that ensures that the aircraft will be safe to return. We will abide by that, we are not in a particular hurry to force them to do anything differently.


“With regards to international regulators, they will have to do their own assessments. We hope that it’s a relatively compact period but at the end of the day, it really is a simple concept that they have to be safe and secure.”

Boeing 737 MAX, United Airlines, Grounded
United doesn’t want to pressure regulators into making a decision regarding the 737 MAX. Photo: United Airlines

Strong pledges

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019, following two fatal accidents. The widespread negative publicity surrounding the incidents has led to many passengers skeptical about boarding the airliner. Even after approval, many may still feel anxious about stepping on the jet.


However, there have been around 5,000 units of the aircraft ordered. The majority of these haven’t yet been fulfilled as Boeing has been focusing on getting the plane operating again. In an effort to reassure passengers, Munoz has stated that he will be the first person on a United flight that operates with a 737 MAX.

“I pledge to be on our first flight, which may not sound like much to a lot of people. It’s important for us, not just because a regulatory agency, a manufacturer, or an airline says its safe. I think it’s important that as part of my ‘proof not promise’ mantra, that I be on the first flight,” he added.

United 737 MAX
United will be considerate with customers when it comes to operating the aircraft. Photo: United

Passenger first

Munoz also understands that the process of trusting the aircraft will be slow. Therefore, he doesn’t want passengers to be forced into doing anything that they don’t want to do. So, United will introduce measures for passengers to rebook their flight if it happens to be on a 737 MAX.

“More importantly, we are going to make it incredibly transparent for our customers to know that when they book a flight if it is indeed on a MAX aircraft, they will absolutely know,” Munoz explained.

“If for some reason, if they get closer to their flight, and they are determined that they don’t feel comfortable, or safe, we will absolutely rebook them at no extra cost. It is that important to us that we don’t just assume that everybody is going to just jump back on that aircraft.”

United has 14 Boeing 737 MAXs currently grounded. The carrier has been planning on retiring its 757 fleet, but the groundings could push these plans back. By operating from January 2020, the airline would start the year in a strong position for new operations. However, the airline has affirmed that they will only fly the aircraft when they are comfortable.

What do you think of United’s statement on the 737 MAX? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.


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Excellent initiative by United. I hope other MAX operators will follow with similar schemes (though I doubt it).
It will be VERY interesting to see the load factors on the MAX if/when this pre-warning / opt-out policy is up and running…I hope that United publishes that data.


I agree with you Peter, safety is first


Will I have the option to not fly on A320Ns or A220s? Because they can’t seem to keep engines running or fly fast at an normal altitude.


TheDude. TheA320N and A220 engine issues are a Pratt and Whitney failure NOT Airbus. The 737Max issue was pure corporate negligence and greed. The Max is a flying coffin by poor design and I’m glad not to fly in one.


Ohhhh my!


Ok well the A320 just had to redesign the go around logic because it was unsafe. Flying coffin lol. I must have imagined all the crashes with Airbuses.


But you’re missing my point I think. The general public does not know that. All they know is what I just said. They don’t distinguish between the two. Engine is the plane according to them. Oh and MCAS is safe with two AOA sensors. Just because third world countries went cheapt by only buying one does not make it a coffin.


Isn’t it the case that all 737 MAX aircraft have twin AOA sensors, the issue being that MCAS only takes sensor data from one (which is now being corrected)?

The optional feature that some operators, including US carriers like Southwest, lack is a disagree light to alert flight crew of a discrepancy in AOA readings.


I think you have missed the point. The MAX is poorly designed with a huge engine too far forward and high on it’s wing to work around its 1960’s architecture. It needed MCAS to solve a fundamental engineering design issue. Software solutions to fix poor design? Come on…..


More an allowance for poor quality pilots than to fix a fundamental design issue. Like Tesla is trying with its ‘semi-automatic driving” cars. Got to have a lot of driving skills to drive a Tesla safely. Got to have a lot of skills to drive a 21st century aircraft. Without those “software’ solutions we would be having continuous accidents if we were trying to do the same passenger miles. Can there be a mistake in one – sure. But throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not what engineers do; and neither should you.


Get a grip Martin. You obviously have no idea the amount of design engineering that goes into producing a modern aircraft. It was an generation-x engineering mistake pure and simple coupled with young pilots implicit belief in technology. Kind of like A330 and AF447. No corporate negligence or greed involved. In case you are wondering – I can say with certainty that there WILL be failures in engineering in the future aircraft too and that the engineering is of the same quality in Europe (Airbus) as it is in the America (Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer). If this concerns you please don’t… Read more »


It was a cost cutting exercise. The awkward engine placement was the only solution to prevent the plane having to be designed in a way which would make it classified as an entirely new type of plane (as opposed to a next generation B737….but still a B737), and thus cost more money for it to be checked out.

Boeing preferred to make the plane unstable (with the idea of the software making it stable again), in order to avoid the costs that certifying a brand new ‘type’ would.


Why not let this be a matter of supply and demand? Passengers should be offered an insurance for not being placed on a plane type they don’t trust/like with an option to re-book on a different flight. This would add a source of income for airlines and give them a clear indication of which types are trusted and which not.


Boeing shill incoming


Yeah – what about the A330 (and AF447); can I get some assurance from AirFrance and AirCanada that their pilots know what to do when the pitot tubes ice up and some of the technology lie’s to them. United are insulting our intelligence as customers – it is our right to choose whatever airline (and the aircraft they put on a route) that WE feel comfortable with and can afford. They are not doing a favor to us by letting us travel with them – we are doing them a favor by choosing to travel with them: I don;t care… Read more »


Agreed Peter !


I wonder how many of those who refuse to fly the MAX are smokers, or obese, or heavy drinkers, or fast food junkies, etc. Boeing has corrected the problem and keep in mind, no US airline had experienced the problem that the other two carriers had with the MAX. Investigations lay some of the blame on poorly trained pilots and poor maintenance work. There is a reason why some countries are labeled as third world.


Boeing has NOT corrected the problem. The problem boils down to adding the larger LEAP engines onto a 60 year old plane. Boeing took the cheap way out by slapping the LEAP engines onto an old airframe design and moving the engines up and forward causing high rate of climb. LEAP engines makes the 737 unstable and Boeing had to add a bandaid solution by altering the elevators (MCAS). Has nothing to do with pilots or maintenance..


Then this link should interest you, as it relates specifically to US pilots:


I am neither obese, smoke or drink alcohol, nor do I partake in junk food, I am 23 years in the military and I will never fly a boing again.


Yep. and i’m the queen of england.


US airlines had the same problems, at least 6 incidents were reported to a NTSB hotline.


I’m assuming that this will mean United will potentially be flying the MAX as well as say a 757 on the same route at the same time, so does this make Economical or in a day where environmental critics are high, environmental sense?


No way I would ever get on a Max, and I fly a lot. Boeing needs to change its corporate culture from short term share price fixation to long term customer focused business.


Umm and your point is what exactly ??
I quote ” I wonder how many of those who refuse to fly the MAX are smokers or are obese are heavy drinkers or fast food junkies etc ”
Where are you headed with these claims?


People are overreacting to the MAX issue and think they are protecting themselves by not flying on it, but at the same time some of those same people are killing themselves due to the concerns I listed. Obesity related illnesses kill half a million a year, tobacco kills another half million a year. With all the time spent on the MAX, it will be one of the safest planes in the sky. “Strain out the gnat and gulp down the camel”. I look forward to flying the MAX, the 737 is a great plane and the most popular airliner in… Read more »


You’re assuming that people are only motivated by fear…but disgust also plays a role. Some people may not want to associate themselves with a piece of junk that has been at the center of a Greek drama of incompetence, shortcuts, greed and deceit…and manslaughter. People are well able to boycott something when they feel that it compromises their principles.


Boeing was once a great company and the 737 was once a great plane. I’m sorry but recent experience with Boeing has been at best problematic and at worst bean counters ruining a once engineering giant. The 737 Max is a design and serious engineering compromise supposedly saved by MCAS (LOL). The 787 was itself grounded for months and continues to have questions raised over its quality and they cannot get the 777 program moving (yes, an engine issue….) What civilian aircraft are they making that is is well respected and whose introduction was trouble free?


I totally agree with you Steven! Boeing HAS fixed the issue, and it will be 100% safe! I can’t wait to fly this magnificent jet;)


Well, I`m none of the above mentioned, an ex aircraft mechanic and loves flying – also the 737, just not the 737 MAX if I can avoid it. And I will try my best to do exactly that.


United should have bought Airbuses. The A321XLR (which is considered a direct competitor to the MAX) would be an excellent fit for them to replace their 757s.

Delta did not buy any 737 MAX, and look how they’re doing right now.


While being pretty sure the Boeing 737 MAX will definitely be safe when it is finally approved by aviation regulators around the world, I will hesitate flying any Boeing airplane if I can avoid it, not because they are unsafe but simply because Boeing has proven to the world that they care more about profit and their shareholders than about the safety of the passengers flying in their airplanes. In case of the Boeing 737 MAX, the American business model has really come up short and unfortunately proven to be deeply flawed. At the same time, it has also been… Read more »


The governments of most countries and their political leadership defend their businesses and their products. The FAA failed to defend and document why the MAX hasn’t crashed for any airline outside of the third world. Especially the Indonesian carrier with a problematic safety and maintenance record that goes back years. Plus, the President of the U.S. got involved in grounding the MAX. That is why, should Boeing survive as a business, they would be entitled to refuse all future U.S. government contract “opportunities”. They should respond to RFP’s with tourist brochures of Toulouse and Hamburg.


Wouldn’t it be something if the U.S. airlines stated (with true integrity) that they won’t fly the 737 MAX until at least 2 other international equivalents of the FAA lifted the no fly ban? I say this in the context of passenger safety. As time has passed during 2019 so much less than stellar actions have come to light both about Boeing and the FAA’s way of doing things to the extent that an unsafe airplane into service for financial benefit.


I agree, this would be a wise move, imagine if the FAA certifies it only for other agencies to not do so and report it as unsafe.
I don’t blame the FAA or the hard working dedicated boing employees, this problem comes direct from the ceo and upper management.


Look at this gem that is on FlightGlobal today:

Is it any wonder that people want nothing to do with the MAX?


If the Captain and the cabin crew are confident enough to fly on the 737 MAX, when it takes to the skies again, that’s good enough for me! With all the work and testing done, it will be the safest plane in the world.

Normal man

Pilots and cabin crew will fly the MAX because this is their JOB. Just like, if you work in a factory, can you refuse to work and tell your boss that the factory is not safe?


Are there no trade unions where you live?
Three big cabin personnel unions in the US have already expressed reticence about working on the MAX if/when it returns to service.


Well I for one am glad to see so many of the BWC (Boeing Worship Club) planning to be on the Max when it returns to service. Better that they should be the lab rats, and not me. I’m not planning to be on a Max ever, and I know how to avoid them thank you very much. And, oh, to The Dude, Boeing designed and built all the Maxes with a single AOA sensor point of failure. Therefore all the airlines, US and International alike, received Maxes with a single AOA point of failure. Just so you know.

King air

Ii was trained on the very first 737s to come into service with the old Pratt and Witney engines, that was an experience in its self but it was a good aircraft. But now for a company to design an airplane that is out of it’s flying perimeters is stupid to say the least and I for one would never fly on one


Very wise Marketing move, and shows the airline cares about its clients’ opinion and possibly fears. I would be one of those, after having seen all the Inhumane/Profit oriented behavior and reasons of BOEING in getting the B737 MAX flying in a RUSH.

d g

It took x years before the sensors wore out or were replaced with new ones that didnt get along with MCAS and brought two nearly at the same time. So the first flight will not be the tell all. give it a few years and some change of parts and then see if they drop out of the sky