Skip to content

The Boeing 737 MAX returns to commercial service on Wednesday

Dec. 08, 2020
4 min read
The Boeing 737 MAX returns to commercial service on Wednesday
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The nearly two-year grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX is set to come to an end on Wednesday.

GOL, the largest domestic carrier in Brazil, is slated to resume commercial service with the troubled jet, with the first flights on routes to and from the company's hub in Sao Paulo.

The airline plans to have all seven of its MAXes back in the sky by the end of December.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

In announcing the restart of commercial MAX operations, Celso Ferrer, vice president of operations at GOL said "our first priority is always the safety of our customers."

Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter for more airline-specific news!

Prior to returning the MAX to service, GOL, along with all other operators, must implement a software update designed to fix the MCAS system, which was partially blamed in two crashes of the jet that took 346 lives. In addition, pilots must undergo a recertification process, which includes a three-hour simulator-based training, running through a combination of emergency scenarios.

According to GOL, all 140 of its pilots have already undergone the required training. Plus, the company has operated some test flights with pilots and other employees before relaunching commercial service.

The countdown to the first commercial MAX flight has been ticking since Nov. 18 when the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it would lift the 20-month grounding order that kept the MAX parked while regulators worked on a fix for the plane's issues.

Immediately following the un-grounding order, every major U.S. carrier announced their intentions to restart MAX flights within months.

Of the three U.S. airlines with MAXes in their fleet, American Airlines has been the most ambitious with its plans to restart MAX service by the end of the year. The Fort Worth-based carrier is slated to re-inaugurate MAX service on Dec. 29 with a flight from Miami (MIA) to New York LaGuardia (LGA).

American's 737 MAX hangar in Tulsa (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In fact, on Dec. 2, American flew a media delegation on the MAX on a roundtrip flight from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Tulsa (TUL) as the first public flight since the plane's grounding. Members of the media heard from the carrier's top brass of pilots and mechanics about how the carrier is bringing the plane back to the skies.

In the weeks leading up to Dec. 29, American is operating several employee-only charter flights with the MAX to "ensure our own team members are comfortable" flying the jet.

Related: A pilot and mechanic explain what’s needed to bring the 737 MAX back

Interestingly, both American and GOL, are citing the MAX's efficiency as one of the top reasons to bring it back so fast, especially during the demand downturn due to the pandemic.

In a recent Skift forum, American's president, Robert Isom said that the MAX "can really do things in an efficient way. From a sustainability perspective, the single best thing an airline can do is buy new planes — and we can't wait to get these MAXes in our fleet." According to the Brazilian airline, "the 737 MAX is critical to GOL's expansion plans due to the greater fuel efficiency and reductions in carbon emissions."

Other U.S.-based carriers aren't acting as fast as AA or GOL. Southwest plans to have its MAXes back in the sky in the second quarter of 2021, while United is gearing up to restart flights from its Denver and Houston hubs in the first quarter of 2021.

Alaska Airlines, which just announced that it's leasing 13 more MAXes in exchange for 10 A320s, plans its first MAX flight in March.

Featured image by AFP via Getty Images

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees