Just earlier this week I posted that Southwest proactively canceled all flights operated by the 737 MAX 8 aircraft. This impacted all flights through Nov. 2 and all passengers affected were able to go ahead and change their flight for no cost. (Or receive a full reimbursement if another option didn’t work out).
Then a few days later, Southwest announced that they were leaving Newark Airport and they would actually pull the 737 MAX 8 aircraft out of service through Jan. 5, 2019 (instead of the previously announced Nov. 2nd date). Since it is still unknown when Boeing will resolve their issues, it is a smart move on Southwest’s part. This means that customers can make alternative plans far in advance and not be stuck last minute (something that happened to many back in April).
Although their statement states January 5th, if you are playing around on the Southwest site, you’ll see that there are still many routes operating the 737 MAX 8 between Nov. 3rd and Jan 5th. I reached out to Southwest regarding this as it does not align with their announcement at all. As of today, the 737 MAX 8 aircrafts are still very much so in service.
This means, Southwest passengers can still book a flight on this aircraft (without realizing it) and receive a cancelation email at some point within the next few weeks. If you want to ensure you are not affected by a cancelation, make sure to see which aircraft is operating the flight you are going to book.
When you are booking a flight, click the blue flight number and a pop up window will appear. You’ll then be able to see the scheduled aircraft. If you already have a flight booked and want to see the scheduled aircraft, go make a mock reservation for the same flight routing and see if you will be impacted.
To avoid being impacted, I suggest booking a flight that is not currently scheduled by the 737 MAX 8 aircraft. Although there is always the chance they might be able to swap the aircraft instead and not actually cancel the flight.
I was not given any timing from Southwest on when they will actually take the aircraft out of service and cancel impacted flights, but I assume it will be within the next few weeks.