The Boeing 737 Max returns to US skies next week with American Airlines – here's how to tell if you're flying on one

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  • The Boeing 737 Max will begin flying paying customers again in the US on December 29 in service with American Airlines and later with United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. 
  • Flyers can tell if they’re on a Max by looking at markings on the plane, the size of the engines, inside the cockpit, and other identifying features. 
  • A passenger’s reservation details will also say which aircraft they’re booked on and US airlines will let passengers change their flights free of charge if they don’t want to fly on a Max. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Boeing 737 Max will fly paying passengers in the US for the first time in 21 months next week as American Airlines is set to fly the first scheduled flight from Miami to New York on December 29. 

American is arguably the most eager US airline to get the ill-fated jet back in the air, beating out rivals United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines to reintroduce the plane by over a month. The weeks following the aircraft’s ungrounding saw American waste no time in taking delivery of new models, begin demonstration flights for employees and the media, and plan for a Max resurgence in 2021.

By the end of February, 91 daily American flights will be flown by the Max, according to Cirium, with United, Southwest, and Alaska also resuming service in the first quarter of the year. Soon, it will be harder to avoid the Max.

All airlines flying the Max are touting its safety features, but after two fatal crashes and a scathing report from the US Senate criticizing Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration’s handling of the aircraft’s return to service, some passengers are understandably skeptical of stepping back onboard.   

Here’s how to tell if your next flight is operated by a Boeing 737 Max. 

Only three airlines in the US currently fly the Max

Flyers on American, United, Alaska, and Southwest are the only ones that need to be concerned about potentially flying on the Max. American begins Max service on December 29, United on February 11, 2021, and Alaska on March 1, 2021, according to Cirium data, while Southwest hasn’t yet announced a start date. 

Flyers on Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Allegiant, Air, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Silver Airways, and Sun Country Airlines, among others in the US, don’t need to worry about flying on the Max.

In Canada and Mexico, only four airlines fly the Max including Air Canada, WestJet, and Aeromexico. In the Caribbean, Cayman Airways currently flies the Max with Caribbean Airlines slated to fly the Max in upcoming years.  

Check your reservation before flying

Each airline tells flyers exactly what plane they’re flying on during and after booking and it’s as easy as checking your reservation details online and checking the aircraft type. Some airlines will even give an explicit warning that you’re booked on a Max when reviewing the booking details. 

If you’ve found yourself inadvertently booked on a Max, fret not, as airlines are allowing passengers to ditch the jet if they feel uncomfortable. American, Alaska, United, and Southwest have all vowed to work with customers to rebook them free of charge to another non-Max flight.

Check the plane markings

Airlines will often brand their aircraft with a placard that reveals its model. These markings are typically placed under the last few windows, under the cockpit windows, or even on the front landing gear door. 

Gallery: Airbus’ new $260 million answer to Boeing’s 787-8 Dreamliner just began flying passengers but it’s already looking like a flop (Business Insider)

  • Slide 1 of 25:  The Airbus A330-800neo entered service with Kuwait Airways in November after being delivered in October as Airbus' newest passenger jet. It's the smaller variant of the A330neo family but still boasts an impressive range of 8,150 nautical miles and greater efficiency thanks to new Rolls-Royce engines.  With only three airlines publicly placing orders for the aircraft, however, it's likely to be a flop. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The latest passenger jet from Airbus just began flying passengers, placing it among the most exclusive airliners currently flying. Kuwait Airlines took delivery of two Airbus A330-800neos in late October, the first arrivals of an eight-aircraft order from the flag carrier. The jet can now be found flying on the Kuwait City-Dubai route exclusively, according to Flightradar 24 data, as Kuwait Airways and its flight crews become acquainted with Airbus' latest innovation. Known as the "entry-level wide-body," the A330-800neo is the smallest in the A330neo family. Its 2018 list price of $259.9 million makes it the second-cheapest wide-body aircraft in the Airbus lineup behind the jet's predecessor, the A330-200.Airbus, however, had little reason to celebrate the aircraft's entry into service as the jet is proving to be a commercial flop. Only three airlines have publicly ordered the aircraft with Airbus failing to break even 20 orders, paling in comparison to the larger A330neo that's seen orders from the likes of Delta Air Lines and TAP Air Portugal.Read more: 6 cargo airlines and freight operators poised to win big when Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine is ready to goBut despite its commercial shortcomings, the A300-800neo is still an impressive plane with advances in range and efficiency compared to its predecessor. Here's a closer look at the Airbus A330-800neo, now flying passengers for Kuwait Airways. Read the original article on Business Insider

  • Slide 2 of 25: The A330neo family is the 2.0 version of Airbus' popular A330 wide-body jets, equipped with new engines and a slightly reworked design to maximize range and efficiency.

  • Slide 3 of 25: It's the latest in Airbus' next-generation lineup that also includes the A350 XWB...

  • Slide 4 of 25: And the A320neo family of aircraft.

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  • Slide 5 of 25: Airbus developed two A330neo aircraft in the new series: the larger A330-900neo and smaller A330-800neo.

  • Slide 6 of 25: The A330-800neo is based on the A330-200, with the two nearly identical except for three main differences.

  • Slide 7 of 25: Source: Rolls-Royce

  • Slide 8 of 25: Next, the sharklet wingtips on the A330-800neos are curved, compared to the sharp-edged design on the A330-200.

  • Slide 9 of 25: And finally, the cockpit windows are surrounded by black paint, almost as if wearing a mask.

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  • Slide 10 of 25: Source: Airbus

  • Slide 11 of 25: Source: Airbus

  • Slide 12 of 25: Source: Business Insider

  • Slide 13 of 25: Read More: Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet.

  • Slide 14 of 25: Source: Airbus and Flightradar 24

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  • Slide 15 of 25: Source: Airbus

  • Slide 16 of 25: Although flying for a major carrier like Kuwait Airways, the A330-800neo won't likely be as big a success as its sibling since so few have been ordered by airlines.

  • Slide 17 of 25: Source: Airbus

  • Slide 18 of 25: Source: Airbus

  • Slide 19 of 25: Source: Airbus

  • Slide 20 of 25: It's based on the A330-300.

  • Slide 21 of 25: TAP Air Portugal first took delivery of the jet in November 2018 and it also yielded orders from major global carriers.

  • Slide 22 of 25: Source: Delta Air Lines

  • Slide 23 of 25: It could also be found flying with Air Mauritius...

  • Slide 24 of 25: And Air Senegal, among others.

  • Slide 25 of 25: Luckily, the A330-800neo isn't a clean-sheet design and it didn't cost Airbus as much to develop it as it would've if the jets were built from scratch.

Airbus’ new $260 million answer to Boeing’s 787-8 Dreamliner just began flying passengers but it’s already looking like a flop

  • The Airbus A330-800neo entered service with Kuwait Airways in November after being delivered in October as Airbus’ newest passenger jet.
  • It’s the smaller variant of the A330neo family but still boasts an impressive range of 8,150 nautical miles and greater efficiency thanks to new Rolls-Royce engines. 
  • With only three airlines publicly placing orders for the aircraft, however, it’s likely to be a flop.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The latest passenger jet from Airbus just began flying passengers, placing it among the most exclusive airliners currently flying. 

Kuwait Airlines took delivery of two Airbus A330-800neos in late October, the first arrivals of an eight-aircraft order from the flag carrier. The jet can now be found flying on the Kuwait City-Dubai route exclusively, according to Flightradar 24 data, as Kuwait Airways and its flight crews become acquainted with Airbus’ latest innovation. 

Known as the “entry-level wide-body,” the A330-800neo is the smallest in the A330neo family. Its 2018 list price of $259.9 million makes it the second-cheapest wide-body aircraft in the Airbus lineup behind the jet’s predecessor, the A330-200.

Airbus, however, had little reason to celebrate the aircraft’s entry into service as the jet is proving to be a commercial flop. Only three airlines have publicly ordered the aircraft with Airbus failing to break even 20 orders, paling in comparison to the larger A330neo that’s seen orders from the likes of Delta Air Lines and TAP Air Portugal.

Read more: 6 cargo airlines and freight operators poised to win big when Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is ready to go

But despite its commercial shortcomings, the A300-800neo is still an impressive plane with advances in range and efficiency compared to its predecessor. 

Here’s a closer look at the Airbus A330-800neo, now flying passengers for Kuwait Airways. 

The A330neo family is the 2.0 version of Airbus’ popular A330 wide-body jets, equipped with new engines and a slightly reworked design to maximize range and efficiency.

It’s the latest in Airbus’ next-generation lineup that also includes the A350 XWB…

And the A320neo family of aircraft.

Airbus developed two A330neo aircraft in the new series: the larger A330-900neo and smaller A330-800neo.

The A330-800neo is based on the A330-200, with the two nearly identical except for three main differences.

The first difference is the engine choice. Two Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines exclusive to the A330neo family provide between 68,000 and 72,000 pounds of thrust.

Source: Rolls-Royce

Next, the sharklet wingtips on the A330-800neos are curved, compared to the sharp-edged design on the A330-200.

And finally, the cockpit windows are surrounded by black paint, almost as if wearing a mask.

Even though it’s the smaller of the two A330neos, it can still seat up to 406 passengers in a high-density configuration. In a normal configuration, it seats up to 260 passengers.

Source: Airbus

The jet also has a top range of 8,150 nautical miles, 900 more than the A330-200 can fly.

Source: Airbus

Its main competitor is the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, with the two jets commiserating as the smallest in their respective families.

Source: Business Insider

But judging from Airbus’ order book, the Boeing jet is clearly the bigger winner.

Read More: Boeing’s revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here’s how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet.

Kuwait Airways took delivery of the first A330-800neo on October 29 and began passenger flights with it in November between Kuwait City and Dubai.

Source: Airbus and Flightradar 24

The flag carrier opted for a 235-seat configuration with a 32-seat business class cabin and a 203-seat economy class cabin.

Source: Airbus

Although flying for a major carrier like Kuwait Airways, the A330-800neo won’t likely be as big a success as its sibling since so few have been ordered by airlines.

The only other known carriers that have the aircraft on order is Africa’s Uganda Airlines with two aircraft…

Source: Airbus

And Air Greenland with a memorandum of understanding for one aircraft.

Source: Airbus

Airbus has had better luck, however, with the A330-900neo, developed first as the larger variant seating up to 440 passengers with a 7,200-nautical mile range.

Source: Airbus

It’s based on the A330-300.

TAP Air Portugal first took delivery of the jet in November 2018 and it also yielded orders from major global carriers.

In the US, Delta Air Lines placed a 25-aircraft order, the only American carrier to take on the A330neo.

Source: Delta Air Lines

It could also be found flying with Air Mauritius…

And Air Senegal, among others.

Luckily, the A330-800neo isn’t a clean-sheet design and it didn’t cost Airbus as much to develop it as it would’ve if the jets were built from scratch.

Not all airlines place these markings on their aircraft and some airlines also may not include the Max name, simply writing “737” instead. If that’s the case, a quick Google search of the registration number will also quickly identify whether the plane is a 737 Max. 

The engines are larger on a Boeing 737 Max

The telltale sign that you’re flying on a Boeing 737 Max is going to be its engines. The CFM International LEAP-1B engines are larger than on the 737 Next Generation, which is part of the reason Boeing had to install the quasi-autopilot Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System that inadvertently caused the fatal crashes, and slightly rounder.

What gives them away, however, are the chevrons on the back edge. No other Boeing narrow-body jets are equipped with this type of engine or have chevrons on the engine, letting you know that this is a Boeing 737 Max engine.

Larger aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or 747-8i do have these engine chevrons but those planes are markedly larger. 

The winglets have a special add-on

Most modern airplanes have wing extensions, known as winglets on Boeing 737 aircraft, that help improve the plane’s aerodynamics. They’re not found on every aircraft but they look like someone took the last few feet of the wing and pointed it upward.

All Max aircraft come standard with winglets, known as “advanced technology” winglets, that feature an extra add-on pointing toward the ground at an angle, creating almost a sideways Y-shape at the end of the wing. 

This type of winglet, however, can be easily confused with the split scimitar winglet found on some updated 737 Next Generation aircraft flying for Southwest, United, and Alaska, so this method of identification should only be used in conjunction with another identifying feature. 

The cockpit is highly advanced

If you’re still unsure about whether you’re flying on a Max when you step onboard the plane, a quick peek into the cockpit will help. The Max jets have been updated with new high-definition display screens for pilots that are markedly larger than the four cube-like displays on the 737 Next Generation.

Put simply, if the cockpit looks more high-tech with larger screens than you’re used to seeing when flying an aircraft like the Boeing 737, it may be a Max. 

The safety card (sometimes) tells all 

Each aircraft has its safety procedures outlined in a safety card that will also inform passengers of the aircraft on which they’re flying. As most flyers will know and the flight attendants will reiterate during their briefing, they can be most often be found in the seat-back literature pocket. 

Since the Boeing 737 Next Generation and 737 Max have so many similarities, however, many airlines have resorted to a single safety card for both types, so it’s best to clarify with a flight attendant if you think you’re on a Max. 

Just ask an airline employee

Any pilot, flight attendant, or customer service agent can tell you the type of aircraft on which you’re flying and they often have the most up-to-date information. When in doubt, just ask.  

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