How to check if your flight is on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 & find the best seats on any aircraft...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 12
The problems with the Boeing 737 MAX 8 have made passengers start to check what aircraft their flights are on. The way that you can check this, though, is the same way that also gets you more information to buy the best flight for you on any aircraft with any airline.

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 (source: WIkiCommons)
A Boeing 737 MAX 8 (source: WIkiCommons)


If you already have your next flight booked, the odds are that you don't know what exact type of aircraft it's going to be on. Compared to the price, destination and flight time, it's hardly on your priority list. Similarly, if you've just been on a flight you may not even have noticed what type of aircraft it is because you didn't bother reading the safety card where it's printed. Yet if aircraft type is so often the last thing we think about when booking, making sure you do check it is going to pay off.

There's no good way to say this, but the topic is on every airline passenger's mind at the moment because of the problems with Boeing's 737 MAX 8. At time of writing, 20 of the approximately 50 airlines around the world that operate this aircraft have suspended services and more are considering doing the same.

Some countries such as the UK have completely banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8, to the extent that even aircraft that were already airborne and en route were turned back rather than be allowed into their airspace. That level of disruption and how booked passengers are being promised alternative flights means that there will now be a scramble to keep people moving. That in turn means that flight booking apps and services are going to be heavily used.

While you need to use news apps to check on the status of 737 MAX 8 flights on your route, these flight booking services will help with any quick arrangements you have to make now.

Naturally, the accidents involving this aircraft type are being investigated and hopefully a solution to the problems will be found soon. We're not suggesting that you forever avoid Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft but we are saying that, actually, you can. You can avoid any type of aircraft for any reason -- or at least you can find out if there's an alternative type on the route you need.

You can know in advance precisely what type of aircraft you're looking at booking -- and then if you know the type, you can make much more informed decisions about the right flight for you.

Regardless of whether you're flying long- or short-haul, regardless of where you're flying anywhere across the States or around the world, take some quick steps to get the best flight going.

Boarding delay

This advice uses services and apps that have been around a long time and aren't going away. However, the volume of suspended services that are affecting the Boeing 737 MAX 8 at the moment is doubtlessly having an effect on them. With this number of flights being changed, passengers are going to be moved to a different aircraft and even the airline may not know which type very much in advance.

Seat Guru's website does include a flight search but it's best when you already know some trip details
Seat Guru's website does include a flight search but it's best when you already know some trip details


In general, though, when you're comparison shopping for the best and cheapest route to somewhere, take a moment to note down the flight number, airline and dates of travel before you buy.

Then go to seatguru.com and enter that detail.

Seat Guru will tell you precisely what type of aircraft that flight is scheduled to be on. If you were just trying to avoid a particular aircraft then you're done. Carry on with your booking or search for an alternative flight and then check out the aircraft on that one.

Take a seat

However, there is much more you can do. Whatever the flight and whatever the aircraft you find on seatguru.com, click on View Map in its listing. You'll get a diagram of the aircraft with every single seat shown and the important ones marked out in color.

There are also green seats which are the ones recommended for legroom and position in the cabin
There are also green seats which are the ones recommended for legroom and position in the cabin


There's a key next to the map but every flight uses the same and obvious colors. If the seat is green, it's considered a good one, for instance. That typically means that it has good legroom.

If a seat is in red then avoid booking it if you have any choice at all. A red chair is one that will probably have less legroom or might be next to a toilet.

There are also yellow seats which are ones that are okay but have certain issues. For instance, they might not be able to recline because of there being an exit behind them.

Those colors give you the quick overview but you can also select any seat to get more detail. On the website or on the iOS version, selecting a seat will give you a description of exactly why it's considered good or bad.

Review culture

These seat maps do also add general descriptions of the aircraft so that you can see, for instance, what types of inflight entertainment there are or read about what meals are included in your fare.

Perhaps the most useful part, however, is the way that the Seat Guru service features user reviews of each aircraft type plus their photographs.

If this sounds like our TripAdvisor-style world gone mad, there's a reason for it. Seat Guru was bought by Expedia back in 2007 and is now part of TripAdvisor.

Apps and ways

Seat Guru includes its own flight comparison shopping feature but it's more clunky than alternatives such as Kayak. The website version appears to let you enter airport codes such as WAS for Washington (All), for instance, but then rejects them and insists you enter a city name instead. It then converts that into the airport code you already knew.

Seat Guru's information is included in other apps such as Flight Update Pro
Seat Guru's information is included in other apps such as Flight Update Pro


So we tend to use other services for finding flights to book, it is Seat Guru that we come back to for checking out the aircraft. There are alternatives to Seat Guru such as Seat Link but that consistently failed to find flights we knew existed.

However, even if it's Seat Guru that we use, it isn't seatguru.com we go to most often.

Hours and minutes

Considering that you're going to be spending hours on a flight, it's surely worth the couple of minutes it will take to check out an aircraft's details on Seat Guru's website. Yet later on you're going to be managing your flight booking, you're going to be checking times and whether the gate has opened yet, and so on. We prefer to do as much of that as possible in one app.

So while we would find flights using the Kayak app, we'll then do everything else including scoping out the seating plans using Flight Update Pro which includes aircraft details provided by Seat Guru.

Now and in the future

Right now this kind of app and service will help you out and especially so if cancellations or suspensions of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 mean you're left having to organize alternative arrangements.

So use them now as an emergency aid but when this situation is resolved and airlines can all return to normal, keep these apps and services to help ensure regular flights are as comfortable as they can be.

Keep up with AppleInsider by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    I hope this is an isolated incident. There are 371 of them in-service. Southwest Airlines has the most fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8. Source.
    maciekskontakt
  • Reply 2 of 27
    When I had to fly 15 hours each way nonstop to the Far East, I was glad that I used SeatGuru to find the seat in economy class with unlimited legroom (no seat in front of it). Made the trip just a little more bearable, although still not easy by any measure.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,167member
    I hope this is an isolated incident. There are 371 of them in-service. Southwest Airlines has the most fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8. Source.
    Same here. Hopefully, they are non-related in cause albeit in the level of tragedy.  Our family use SouthWest almost monthly.
    edited March 12
  • Reply 4 of 27
    seankillseankill Posts: 462member
    A couple hundred people die on a comercial flight in another country and everyone freaks out. Meanwhile, nearly 100 people die on the road in the US alone every single day. 

    Unfortunate loss of life, hopefully they get to the bottom of it and prevent it from happening again. 
    racerhomie3SpamSandwichrandominternetperson
  • Reply 5 of 27
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,160member
    I hope this is an isolated incident. There are 371 of them in-service. Southwest Airlines has the most fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8. Source.
    Hopefully but who knows. Pretty rare for two brand new aircraft to crash months apart. The majority of the 737 Max fleets are grounded around the world. It will be interesting to see if the FAA follows suit and grounds the aircraft in the U.S.
    chia
  • Reply 6 of 27
    The Boeing 737 MAX is a lesson for our autonomous vehicle aspirations. 

    Before there was self-driving cars, there were self-driving planes.  Self-driving planes are relatively easy, there’s not a lot of congestion at 35,000 feet.  If the “road” gets bumpy, planes can go around or over it.

    But, self-driving cars and planes share the same flaw...sensors.  What I’m reading is the 737 MAX sensors likely caused both crashes.  The sensors aren’t sensing the conditions properly and the autopilot responds...  In the first crash the autopilot sent the plane into the sea “thinking” it was preventing some other disaster.

    The vast majority of the time the autopilot would be right, but that’s only the case when the sensors are functioning properly.  Boeing is saying if the sensors were properly maintained there would be no problem.  The problem is these planes are practically brand-spanking-new.  You know how many 20+ year old planes are still in the air? A shit-ton!  Normally, these planes start out their lives in a big reputable airline.  But when they get older they’re resold to an extreme budget airline usually in the 3rd world.  How many of these planes get proper maintenance? Remember the complexity of maintenance is increasing...

    So, the safety of the 
    Boeing 737 MAX is already an issue and every year that goes by the problem/danger increases.  Boeing is going to put out a software update that’s going to help.  Probably, by requiring more pilot intervention and be less autonomous.  It’s a patch, but the problem with the sensors still exist.  Pilots make less money today because they are less well trained, the new “smart” planes are supposed to make up that gap...oops.  

    Soon we will have self-driving cars.  Do they rely on sensors?  Will the driver even have a steering wheel?  Will the occupant rely on the vehicle for decisions?  We already see accidents because the driver is over reliant.  What happens when the car correctly tries to turn over control to the driver and the driver is unprepared or inebriated?  What happens when these vehicles are on the roads for 10-20 years?  Do you think all those vehicles (sensors) will be maintained properly?

    Boeing 737 MAX is giving us a look into the future, and there’s a big sigh flashing DANGER DANGER DANGER.
    edited March 12 chiacat52
  • Reply 7 of 27
    First you can always check while booking and you should pay attention - it is on ticket iternary. Second it is always in emergency procedure card and you should always at least swipe your eyes on it rather than be know-it-all routine expereinced person who never checks where emergency exists are or what it means when you sit next to those doors (you have more space, but now you have also more obligations to other passengers). It is too late however. Airline can also change aircraft at any time and then what? One of examples is defect detected by crew during departure procedures or some administrative reasons.

    And BTW so they starterd falling from sky en masse? Maybe this panic is not in place. Dreamliners had big technical problems, but never fell. This one fell from sky in unknown circumstances, but judgment is already there that it must be technical issue with plane. Good luck with this attitude. It requires investigation first. There were incidents recorded by NTSB such as miscalcualted fuel amount or cargo doors not closed and signalled by ground crew properly and many others, but everybody starts putting blame on aircraft.
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 8 of 27
    When I had to fly 15 hours each way nonstop to the Far East, I was glad that I used SeatGuru to find the seat in economy class with unlimited legroom (no seat in front of it). Made the trip just a little more bearable, although still not easy by any measure.
    Yes and you say front economy row or next to emergency exit doors. Did you read whta YOU are supposed to do in case of emergency? Yes you have obligation - not crew. Check all papers on flying commercial. That is why those places are reserved only to those who can lift a bit heavier stuff and place on seats... like emergency doors. No kids are allowed on those seats.
    chia
  • Reply 9 of 27
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 932member
    Soon we will have self-driving cars. DANGER DANGER DANGER.
    A self-driving car will be many magnitudes safer than one with an inexperienced/inebriated/distracted/tired/road rule ignoring human behind the wheel.
    DAalsethfastasleepbarthrhbeowulfschmidtcharlesatlas
  • Reply 10 of 27
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,288member
    The Boeing 737 MAX is a lesson for our autonomous vehicle aspirations. 

    Before there was self-driving cars, there were self-driving planes.  Self-driving planes are relatively easy, there’s not a lot of congestion at 35,000 feet.  If the “road” gets bumpy, planes can go around or over it.

    But, self-driving cars and planes share the same flaw...sensors.  What I’m reading is the 737 MAX sensors likely caused both crashes.  The sensors aren’t sensing the conditions properly and the autopilot responds...  In the first crash the autopilot sent the plane into the sea “thinking” it was preventing some other disaster.

    The vast majority of the time the autopilot would be right, but that’s only the case when the sensors are functioning properly.  Boeing is saying if the sensors were properly maintained there would be no problem.  The problem is these planes are practically brand-spanking-new.  You know how many 20+ year old planes are still in the air? A shit-ton!  Normally, these planes start out their lives in a big reputable airline.  But when they get older they’re resold to an extreme budget airline usually in the 3rd world.  How many of these planes get proper maintenance? Remember the complexity of maintenance is increasing...

    So, the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX is already an issue and every year that goes by the problem/danger increases.  Boeing is going to put out a software update that’s going to help.  Probably, by requiring more pilot intervention and be less autonomous.  It’s a patch, but the problem with the sensors still exist.  Pilots make less money today because they are less well trained, the new “smart” planes are supposed to make up that gap...oops.  

    Soon we will have self-driving cars.  Do they rely on sensors?  Will the driver even have a steering wheel?  Will the occupant rely on the vehicle for decisions?  We already see accidents because the driver is over reliant.  What happens when the car correctly tries to turn over control to the driver and the driver is unprepared or inebriated?  What happens when these vehicles are on the roads for 10-20 years?  Do you think all those vehicles (sensors) will be maintained properly?

    Boeing 737 MAX is giving us a look into the future, and there’s a big sigh flashing DANGER DANGER DANGER.
    Sensors are a big problem, in cars most of the time its a sensor that breaks down triggering a fatal error warning and breaking down the car. (A bit similar to software, which always reports a wrong error, say an error thats in error.)
    Cars do have a big advantage in sensor redundancy (use of multiple sensors and sensors of a different type to ensure a correct notion of reality) because they use GPS.
    Planes no matter how modern do not use GPS and so they think that they drop to the ground because of frozen air speed sensors and wrongly callibrated (and or frozen) barometric sensors while a simple iphone or ipad would immediately clarify the situation.
    Planes - even the most modern ones - also lack forward radar (God knows why) so they cannot see in front of them and so hit mountains frequently, a downward radar is not much help when the ground distance changes from 1000 meters to 0 in one second.
    An automatic pilot needs a coherent notion of where and how its located in space. This notion should depend on all sensors it has including GPS (at least as a sanity check) and things like inertial positioning and vectors and sound reasoning to combine it all. Stalling can then be ruled out when the speed jumps to zero while the second before it ran 1000 km/hour (unless the case mentioned above) and pilots are not confused by misleading alarms that terrify the sanity out of al but a few (by creating extreme panic).
    This kind of insane stupidity, makes airplaines very dangerous.
    Airbus also had problems with its automated stall prevention and had several extremely deadly accidents because of it. I guess Boeing is catching up in this respect, hélas.
  • Reply 11 of 27
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,945member
    So I get the best seat in Haven or Hell based on my Karma in life ?
  • Reply 12 of 27
    longfanglongfang Posts: 113member
    First you can always check while booking and you should pay attention - it is on ticket iternary. Second it is always in emergency procedure card and you should always at least swipe your eyes on it rather than be know-it-all routine expereinced person who never checks where emergency exists are or what it means when you sit next to those doors (you have more space, but now you have also more obligations to other passengers). It is too late however. Airline can also change aircraft at any time and then what? One of examples is defect detected by crew during departure procedures or some administrative reasons.

    Well I could book with an airline that operates just a single type of aircraft (tends to be the case with most budget airlines anyway).
  • Reply 13 of 27
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,748member
    [Reactionary Luddite crap]
    Don't bellow irrational fears. Commercial flight is incredibly safe because of rigorous automation to constantly check HW, environments, systems, and pilots, not in spite of. The automobile will probably never come close to being as safe but will clearly become much safer as we continue to add more intelligent systems to vehicles, like we've been doing since its inception.
    edited March 12 fastasleep
  • Reply 14 of 27
    Heard on the radio that the first plane went down as the sensors were sending erroneous data and the software didn’t handle it well. Long and short of it , it stalled, crashed and blew up. Also, too few sensors with no voting out any bad signals. Or that was the theory this guy was peddling. 

    No no idea of this latest crash is the same cause but since they never fully proved or fixed the first one I wouldn’t trust flying on one of these planes. 

    What absolutely amazes me is -

    a) Boeing saying “there is no problem”

    b) The US isn’t grounding them until they figure it out , so they are literally gambling with your lives. 

    So many countries have now banned them until they figure out the problem. The US should too. To hell with Boeing’s share price. 

    edited March 12
  • Reply 15 of 27
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,722member
    The Boeing 737 MAX is a lesson for our autonomous vehicle aspirations. 

    Before there was self-driving cars, there were self-driving planes.  Self-driving planes are relatively easy, there’s not a lot of congestion at 35,000 feet.  If the “road” gets bumpy, planes can go around or over it.

    But, self-driving cars and planes share the same flaw...sensors.  What I’m reading is the 737 MAX sensors likely caused both crashes.  The sensors aren’t sensing the conditions properly and the autopilot responds...  In the first crash the autopilot sent the plane into the sea “thinking” it was preventing some other disaster.

    The vast majority of the time the autopilot would be right, but that’s only the case when the sensors are functioning properly.  Boeing is saying if the sensors were properly maintained there would be no problem.  The problem is these planes are practically brand-spanking-new.  You know how many 20+ year old planes are still in the air? A shit-ton!  Normally, these planes start out their lives in a big reputable airline.  But when they get older they’re resold to an extreme budget airline usually in the 3rd world.  How many of these planes get proper maintenance? Remember the complexity of maintenance is increasing...

    So, the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX is already an issue and every year that goes by the problem/danger increases.  Boeing is going to put out a software update that’s going to help.  Probably, by requiring more pilot intervention and be less autonomous.  It’s a patch, but the problem with the sensors still exist.  Pilots make less money today because they are less well trained, the new “smart” planes are supposed to make up that gap...oops.  

    Soon we will have self-driving cars.  Do they rely on sensors?  Will the driver even have a steering wheel?  Will the occupant rely on the vehicle for decisions?  We already see accidents because the driver is over reliant.  What happens when the car correctly tries to turn over control to the driver and the driver is unprepared or inebriated?  What happens when these vehicles are on the roads for 10-20 years?  Do you think all those vehicles (sensors) will be maintained properly?

    Boeing 737 MAX is giving us a look into the future, and there’s a big sigh flashing DANGER DANGER DANGER.
    Cool story. Meanwhile back in reality, air travel is safer now than it has ever been. I’d say you just made an argument for self-driving cars. 




    edited March 12 barthrhrandominternetperson
  • Reply 16 of 27
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,722member

    knowitall said:
    The Boeing 737 MAX is a lesson for our autonomous vehicle aspirations. 

    Before there was self-driving cars, there were self-driving planes.  Self-driving planes are relatively easy, there’s not a lot of congestion at 35,000 feet.  If the “road” gets bumpy, planes can go around or over it.

    But, self-driving cars and planes share the same flaw...sensors.  What I’m reading is the 737 MAX sensors likely caused both crashes.  The sensors aren’t sensing the conditions properly and the autopilot responds...  In the first crash the autopilot sent the plane into the sea “thinking” it was preventing some other disaster.

    The vast majority of the time the autopilot would be right, but that’s only the case when the sensors are functioning properly.  Boeing is saying if the sensors were properly maintained there would be no problem.  The problem is these planes are practically brand-spanking-new.  You know how many 20+ year old planes are still in the air? A shit-ton!  Normally, these planes start out their lives in a big reputable airline.  But when they get older they’re resold to an extreme budget airline usually in the 3rd world.  How many of these planes get proper maintenance? Remember the complexity of maintenance is increasing...

    So, the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX is already an issue and every year that goes by the problem/danger increases.  Boeing is going to put out a software update that’s going to help.  Probably, by requiring more pilot intervention and be less autonomous.  It’s a patch, but the problem with the sensors still exist.  Pilots make less money today because they are less well trained, the new “smart” planes are supposed to make up that gap...oops.  

    Soon we will have self-driving cars.  Do they rely on sensors?  Will the driver even have a steering wheel?  Will the occupant rely on the vehicle for decisions?  We already see accidents because the driver is over reliant.  What happens when the car correctly tries to turn over control to the driver and the driver is unprepared or inebriated?  What happens when these vehicles are on the roads for 10-20 years?  Do you think all those vehicles (sensors) will be maintained properly?

    Boeing 737 MAX is giving us a look into the future, and there’s a big sigh flashing DANGER DANGER DANGER.
    Sensors are a big problem, in cars most of the time its a sensor that breaks down triggering a fatal error warning and breaking down the car. (A bit similar to software, which always reports a wrong error, say an error thats in error.)
    Cars do have a big advantage in sensor redundancy (use of multiple sensors and sensors of a different type to ensure a correct notion of reality) because they use GPS.
    Planes no matter how modern do not use GPS and so they think that they drop to the ground because of frozen air speed sensors and wrongly callibrated (and or frozen) barometric sensors while a simple iphone or ipad would immediately clarify the situation.
    Planes - even the most modern ones - also lack forward radar (God knows why) so they cannot see in front of them and so hit mountains frequently, a downward radar is not much help when the ground distance changes from 1000 meters to 0 in one second.
    An automatic pilot needs a coherent notion of where and how its located in space. This notion should depend on all sensors it has including GPS (at least as a sanity check) and things like inertial positioning and vectors and sound reasoning to combine it all. Stalling can then be ruled out when the speed jumps to zero while the second before it ran 1000 km/hour (unless the case mentioned above) and pilots are not confused by misleading alarms that terrify the sanity out of al but a few (by creating extreme panic).
    This kind of insane stupidity, makes airplaines very dangerous.
    Airbus also had problems with its automated stall prevention and had several extremely deadly accidents because of it. I guess Boeing is catching up in this respect, hélas.
    What the hell are you talking about? Airliners use GPS and have forward-facing radar. “Hit mountains frequently”? Needs citation. Flying, especially in modern aircraft, is exponentially safer than driving. 
    berndograndominternetperson
  • Reply 17 of 27
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,015member
    It looks suspiciously like the incidents with this aircraft may be due to inexperienced pilot error, but it’s still too early to tell. There have been no issues in the US.
  • Reply 18 of 27
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 932member
    It looks suspiciously like the incidents with this aircraft may be due to inexperienced pilot error, but it’s still too early to tell. There have been no issues in the US.
    Lion Air pilots had 11,000 flying hours between them. They fought a plane trying to crash itself for 13 minutes.
    chia
  • Reply 19 of 27
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,585member
    hentaiboy said:
    It looks suspiciously like the incidents with this aircraft may be due to inexperienced pilot error, but it’s still too early to tell. There have been no issues in the US.
    Lion Air pilots had 11,000 flying hours between them. They fought a plane trying to crash itself for 13 minutes.
    Correct.  They should have disabled 2 trim controls to allow them control of the aircraft after the sensors incorrectly over rode their control.  At the time, this was not known.  Boeing has since issued this to the pilots but did not make it compulsory training so the 2nd crash was likely the same issue and the pilots had not been informed/trained how to over ride the system in the case of this failure happening.

    And this is all because the aircraft is flawed, the new engines cause an imbalance which brings the nose up, the software which ultimately caused the crash was created to bring the nose down. When the sensors failed/fed back incorrect data, the aircraft thought its nose was veering up. How this software was unable to operate withought double checks from other systems it pretty crazy and the team responsible should be fired.

    bottom line, Boeing f’d Up.
    edited March 13 chia
  • Reply 20 of 27
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,664member
    It looks suspiciously like the incidents with this aircraft may be due to inexperienced pilot error, but it’s still too early to tell. There have been no issues in the US.
    I agree that it is too early to tell but there were a couple of anomalies on US flights.

    https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-13/737-max-pilots-reported-two-control-issues-in-2018-to-nasa/10895542
Sign In or Register to comment.