DALLAS — Social media teams at Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and Fort Worth-based American Airlines stayed busy on Monday, with a constant stream of tweets from passengers asking why the airlines have not grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.
Passengers also wanted to know if their upcoming flights would be on the Max 8, and if so, if they could re-book on another aircraft.
Both airlines answered hundreds of inquiries.
“I am a frequent flier, but I will admit I am a little bit of a nervous flier,” said Amanda Mann of Dallas, who reached out to Southwest via Twitter to check on the aircraft she was scheduled for on an upcoming flight.
Southwest tweeted multiple times it has “operated approximately 31,000 flights utilizing the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.”
But when Mann discovered she was scheduled for a Max 8, she canceled and re-booked the trip on Delta.
She called Sunday’s crash of a Max 8 in Ethiopia, just five months after the same model of plane crashed in Indonesia “too coincidental.”
“I thought if at all possible if I could re-book until they figure this out, it’s probably the best bet,” she said.
American Airlines operates 24 Max 8 aircraft and Southwest operates 34.
The airlines repeatedly told customers safety is their top priority and that they remained confident in the safety of their fleets.
While Southwest customers must pay the difference if they rebook to another fare class on another trip, there is no penalty for changing or cancelling a flight. On American, there is a change fee that varies based on the class of ticket purchased.
The FAA said Monday there is no evidence linking the two Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes, but customers like Mann don’t need direct evidence to feel uneasy enough to seek out another aircraft.
She believes if international carriers are grounding the Max 8, U.S. carriers should too.
“I’m kind of amazed that Southwest and American haven’t done that, just for the PR hit alone,” she said. “I can’t tell them how to run their business but hopefully they’ll reconsider that because I know if there is somebody like me who flies a lot who is nervous, then there are a lot of others who also are.”