President Donald Trump has grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 airplanes in the U.S. following a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia killed 157 people on Sunday. Other countries, including those in the European Union, China and Indonesia, previously grounded the planes.
U.S. airport administrators and airlines are still unsure how the action will impact travelers. American Airlines canceled 19 flights out of Miami International Airport after Wednesday’s announcement and is urging travelers to rebook through its website. Southwest, Air Canada, Norwegian and United are among the airlines that operate some affected planes.
Airline experts say the action puts travelers in uncharted territory. While the Boeing 737 Dreamliner was grounded in 2013, it involved far fewer planes, said Julie Loffredi, a spokesperson for InsureMyTrip, a travel insurance sales platform. That ban lasted 123 days.
“These are extreme circumstances, [and are] extremely rare,” she said.
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Other travel suppliers such as hotels and cruise lines may be affected, but it’s too early to tell, said South Florida-based cruise lines Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
For those booked to travel this week, experts have these recommendations:
▪ Sign up for alerts from your airline. Even if you were originally booked on a 737 Max 8 or 9 plane that has been grounded, the airline may rebook you on another flight or substitute the type of plane. You can check to see if your flight is on a grounded plane using SeatGuru.com or FlightAware.com.
▪ If your flight on a 737 Max 8 or 9 has been canceled, contact your airline about rebooking. Southwest Airlines said it will rebook passengers on alternative flights with no charge within 14 days. American Airlines said it is providing refunds to passengers on canceled flights.
▪ If you purchased travel insurance through a third party insurer, contact the company to see if they can help you. You may be entitled to reimbursement for food and accommodations in the case of delay or cancellation.
▪ If you are continuing on to a cruise or a hotel stay, contact the cruise or hotel company to see if you have any flexibility in your reservation.