Alaska Airlines returns the 737 MAX 9 to service today

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Alaska Airlines plans to bring back… 737 Max 9 aircraft Returns to service on Friday, with the first flight departing from Seattle this afternoon and landing in San Diego. The flight will be the first for this model of Boeing aircraft since 2008 An explosion in the air Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration pushed to ground the planes.

Alaska Flight 1146 will depart Seattle at 2:20 p.m. PT, the airline said. It plans to fly two more 737 MAX 9 flights later in the afternoon – Flight 621 from Las Vegas to Portland, Oregon, and Flight 1086 from Seattle to Ontario, California.

United Airlines, the only other U.S. airline to operate the plane, said its fleet of 737 MAX 9 jets would begin returning to service on Saturday. United told CBS News it will allow passengers who don’t want to fly on the Max 9 to change flights at no additional cost, depending on seat availability.

The air blast occurred when the door seal, which is panels designed to fit over an unused exit and turn it into a wall section with a window, burst a few minutes after leaving. None of the passengers were seriously injured, but fortunately no one was sitting next to the door stopper that fell from the plane’s body. Experts said the accident could have been much worse if passengers had been seated next to that section or if the accident had occurred later in the flight when people typically unbuckle their seatbelts.

Alaska Airlines grounded all of its Max 9 aircraft within hours, while the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all other Max 9 aircraft in the United States the next day.

Airlines found problems on other planes. Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci told NBC this week that “several” planes had been inspected He had loose screws It should help secure the door plug to the airframe. United Airlines also found loose bolts on some of its Max 9 planes.

On Wednesday, the F.A.A Announce It paved the way for the aircraft to return to service after a rigorous inspection and maintenance process.

Alaska Airlines told CBS News it will take several days for its network to be fully operational. It plans to move some of its 737 MAX 9 aircraft from where they were inspected to airports where they will resume commercial service.

Will people want to fly on the 737 MAX 9 again?

Alaska Airlines officials said Thursday they lost some sales among people buying flights in February — a phenomenon called “booking away” in the airline industry. They did not say how many people had booked away from the Max 9 hotel, but they expected it to only last a few weeks.

Minicucci, Alaska’s CEO, said travelers may initially have “some anxiety” about flying on the Max 9, while he said he expects them to steadily regain confidence that the plane is safe.

Passengers returned to Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after two of them crashed in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 people. After those accidents, Boeing had to redesign an automated flight control system before the Federal Aviation Administration allowed the Max 8 and Max 9 to resume flying after a 20-month grounding.

-With reports from Chris Van Cleave of CBS News and The Associated Press.

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