Plane

Southwest Airlines flies the most 737 Max 8 jets in the U.S.: 34 out of the more than 750 Boeing 737s in its fleet.

Even before President Trump announced the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX fleet Wednesday, a Concord resident was ready to ground herself at a Florida airport.

“If it had been the MAX, I would not have gotten on (the plane),” Lynn Kilchenstein said at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport after flying from Fort Myers to Philadelphia to Manchester.

Manchester’s airport handles about 100 takeoffs and 100 landings a year involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8, according to Deputy Airport Director Tom Malafronte.

“Southwest is the only carrier in our market that flies the MAX 8 and generally schedules them to Chicago Midway and/or Orlando,” Malafronte said in an email.

Trump’s announcement followed one by Canada’s transportation minister grounding all the new-generation 737s, saying a review of satellite-tracking data by his country’s experts found similarities between Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet in Ethiopia and an October Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia.

The FAA’s emergency order temporarily halts all flights of the Boeing MAX 8 and MAX 9 planes, effective immediately, “to address an emergency related to safety in air commerce,” the order says.

Southwest posted a statement on its website offering flexible rebooking for those with canceled flights.

“Any customer booked on a cancelled MAX 8 flight can rebook on alternate flights without any additional fees or fare differences within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city pairs,” Southwest said.

Before the grounding, a Southwest MAX 8 from Chicago had been scheduled to land in Manchester at 1:15 a.m. todayThursday before heading back to Chicago as Flight 1352 at 5:50 a.m.

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Debbie McLaughlin of Naples, Fla., said her mother had asked her to check what type of plane she was flying on to Manchester Wednesday. “If it was (a MAX), I would have lied to her,” she said.

Southwest’s website showed 737 MAX 8s were scheduled to handle Southwest Flight 1352 Monday through Friday next week. Another MAX was slated to fly from Manchester to Orlando on Saturday. And passengers heading from Manchester to Chicago on Sunday had the option of connecting in Baltimore with both flights on MAX jets.

Debbie McLaughlin, who lives in Naples, Fla., flew into Manchester to visit her grandchildren in Candia and wasn’t worried about the MAX planes’ safety.

“I had to (check the plane type) for my mother because she wanted me to change my flight,” McLaughlin said. “If it was (a MAX), I would have lied to her.”

Before the grounding, Southwest in an email said: “We don’t have specific route information for individual markets to provide. Since our fleet types are interchangeable, the MAX can serve any of our locations, and it is not based in any particular city or region.”

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Passengers Todd and Kathy Birkebak of Peterborough talk with the New Hampshire Union Leader at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on March 13, 2019

Todd Birkebak of Peterborough and his wife, Kathy, hadn’t checked to see if their American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Seattle included flying on a MAX.

“If we had the kids, we would have checked on it,” she said, adding she would probably look up the plane type on her phone at the gate.

Frequent-flier Daryl Rubinstein of Livingston, N.J., said he flies 100,000 miles a year, and wasn’t concerned about the MAX. “I would go on it,” he said.

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Passenger Daryl Rubinstein of Livingston, N.J., walks to the gate to catch his plane at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on March 13, 2019.

Wendy French of Keene was waiting for her dad’s flight. “I’m 62 years old and never been in an airplane,” she said. “I just like my feet on the ground.”

Material from the Washington Post was included in this story.

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