Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft has now been involved in two devastating crashes in just five months. In both incidents, the planes crashed minutes after takeoff. November’s Lion Air disaster killed 189 passengers when the aircraft plummeted into the Java Sea, while Sunday’s incident saw at least 150 passengers killed when an Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed.
Aviation officials around the world are now scrutinizing the safety of the Boeing model, which Southwest, United, and American Airlines all fly. But it makes sense that prospective travelers would be hesitant to board a 737 Max 8, especially so soon after the latest catastrophe in the desert outside of Addis Ababa.
It’s fairly easy to tell what kind of aircraft you’ll be boarding for a forthcoming flight. Your aircraft make and model is usually listed on your aircraft itinerary or at some point during the booking process online, according to airline analyst Gary Leff.
He told Popular Mechanics in an email:
It’s usually listed on your itinerary. And it’s listed in airline schedules….Airlines do use shorthand often for the aircraft type on a given flight. American and Southwest, which both operate the Boeing 737 MAX 8 which is the same plane involved in the Ethiopian (and Lion Air) incidents, is flagged by both carriers as “7M8.”
Beyond that, Leff says, you can always resort to old-fashioned tactics like picking up the phone and calling the airline. But if you’d rather not dial up an airline customer service rep and wait on hold, there’s a variety of resources at your disposal. The New York Times points to tools like SeatGuru and FlightStats—websites that can dredge up your aircraft’s make and model if you input your flight info.
Even so, as investigators probe the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, it seems your chances of encountering one of Boeing’s popular jets are on the wane: A total of 22 airlines worldwide have grounded their fleets so far, and it’s entirely possible that more will remain idle on tarmacs across the globe as aviation authorities exercise caution.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics