Following the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on Sunday, some
travel advisors have found themselves explaining the difference between Boeing
737 aircraft in general and the specific model that crashed, the 737 Max 8.
The Ethiopian Airlines crash was the second in five months
involving a 737 Max 8. In October, a Lion Air plane crashed into the Java Sea
12 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta. All 189 passengers and crew were killed.
As a result, several countries have grounded the 737 Max 8,
including China, the U.K. and Germany.
Jay Ellenby, president of Safe Harbors Business Travel in
Bel Air, Md., said there is some consumer confusion about the class of aircraft
and the Max 8 specifically.
"Most airline websites aren't that specific in
identifying the aircraft beyond 737," Ellenby said. "Internally, we
have made sure our agents understand how to identify correctly within the GDS."
Thus far, one of Safe Harbors' clients who travels
frequently in Africa has requested not to fly on a 737 Max 8, he said.
Brian Chapin, senior director of air and travel solutions
for Ensemble Travel Group, said that the consortium has received "a few
questions from member agencies and their clients" about the 737 Max 8.
"It is important
to note that the 737 is a very popular aircraft with various models and
configurations, and that it appears that only the 737 Max 8 has been impacted,"
Chapin said. "We are staying in touch with our airline partners as well as
keeping a watchful eye, and will be guided by recommendations from the NTSB and
FAA. Airlines go to great lengths to operate in a safe manner, but it is
ultimately the customer's decision to make as to their comfort level when
Joshua Bush, CEO of Avenue Two Travel in Villanova, Pa.,
said some clients have expressed unease about flying on a 737 Max 8.
"We have had a handful of clients with concerns, and we
accommodate those concerns by advising them of the type of aircraft they are
flying on and what alternatives may exist," he said. "While clients
who are currently booked on 737s are bound to the terms and conditions to which
they have booked, we honor all client wishes and work with them to travel as
comfortably as possible. In some cases, this has been canceling and rebooking
on alternative flights."
Bush estimated the agency has received fewer than 10
requests to avoid the aircraft, mostly happening before clients were ticketed,
but Avenue Two's air team is up to date on the situation.
"We felt it was
better to prepare our team to be in the know as travel advisors and be ready to
handle such questions as they arise," he said.