Southwest Airlines’ entire fleet of planes are Boeing 737s, though some of the fleet is made of the older 737-700s, while the rest are the 737 MAX 8 and 737-800s.

The 737 MAX 8 was involved in two fatal crashes in 2018 and has had a few other problems since, so some people are concerned about flying on one.

According to FlyersRights.org:

“Lion Air crashed in October 2018 after pilots were unable to override an automatic control system (MCAS or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) that was not clearly disclosed by Boeing to airlines and pilots. Although it is too early to identify the cause of [March 10’s] Ethiopian Airlines crash, early signs point to the same problem.”

In both crashes, reports are that there were problems on take-off.

The FAA temporarily ground all Boeing MAX 8 planes operated by U.S. airlines or in the U.S. as of March 13, 2019, but they have were approved to return to service on December 29, 2020.

There was a small hiccup in April 2021 where they grounded a few more planes due to a computer issue but currently they are flying with no troubles.

In January 2024, the FAA grounded the Boeing MAX 9 after part of a door flew off in flight during an Alaska Airlines flight. No one was injured. Here is the latest on the FAA’s actions regarding the MAX 9.

Note: Southwest does not currently fly any MAX-9 aircraft.

If you would prefer to fly on one of the new Southwest planes or don’t want to fly on a MAX 8 (or just want to know if you’re scheduled to fly a MAX 8), I’m going to show you how to find that information when booking.

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About the MAX 8 Southwest Planes

Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane Southwest Airlines
Southwest’s beautiful Boeing Max 8; Credit Southwest Airlines

Southwest has continued to invest in new 737-800 and 737 MAX 8 airplanes, which made the entire Southwest fleet WiFi enabled, and stating they are continuing to purchase even more.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelley says that they have operated the MAX across 40,000 flights over 90,000 hours with no issues. 

Many of our team and Families Fly Free members have flown the MAX 8 with no issues.

As of this posting, Southwest’s fleet contains:

  • 400+ 737-700s
  • 200+ 737-800s
  • 188 737 MAX 8 planes

The MAX 8 planes are very pretty (if a plane can be pretty ;-)) and have the pivoting overhead bins found on their 737-800 planes along with the Heart Interior layout and design.

It also can fly farther more economically and is largely used on longer haul flights, including flights to Hawaii.

Member Diane S. got to fly the MAX right after they were put into service back in 2017. She said, “It was a beautiful airplane, and the crews were very proud of it. Employees outside of the aircraft were taking pictures of it!”

Read about how Diane got her Southwest Companion Pass and her first trip with Southwest using the pass.

While it might not always be possible to fly a newer plane with the majority of the fleet being 737-700s or to fly your choice of plane, you can certainly try!

And heck you might as well bring someone along for free!

How to Book a Flight on New Southwest Planes or Avoid the MAX 8

Southwest wing diamondhead oahu

If you want to try to book your next flight on one of the newer Southwest planes versus their older ones or want to avoid the MAX 8, here’s how to check…

1.  Start the process to check flights by going to Book a Flight or the Low Fare Calendar on Southwest.com.

2.  Input your departure and arrival cities and dates or months.

3.  When you are on the screen that lists the various flights to select, click on the flight number to get details about the plane.

4. When you click the flight number, you will get Aircraft Information that pops up in a box. It will show the type of plane for the flight.

In some cases, as below, your first flight could be on the Max 8 and your second flight on the 737-700.

This screen will also show you the number of seats on the plane and if it has WiFi and free TV available, though really all Southwest planes should have that now, unless it is not functioning for some reason.

So keep clicking the flight numbers until you find the type of plane you want, though of course you’re going to want to consider cost, nonstop versus layovers and times as well. 

 

How to See Your Plane Type If You’ve Already Booked a Flight

If you have a flight scheduled and want to see which aircraft you’ll be flying on, do the following…

1. Navigate to My Account from Southwest.com

2. Scroll down to My Upcoming Trips as below

Southwest scheduled flights

3. Click on Details as shown above.

4. Scroll down to the flight details to see the plane you’re scheduled to fly.

Southwest scheduled aircraft

The website FlightStats.com allows you to enter your flight number, departure/arrival cities, airline and date, and it will tell you which aircraft is scheduled. 


How to Rebook Your Max 8 Southwest Flight

You can follow the steps below or watch the video in this post where I walk you through how to change a Southwest flight.

Navigate to the My Account screen once you’re logged in at Southwest.com and then scroll down to My Flights and then click Change, OR you can enter your confirmation number and name on the home page of Southwest.com about midway down where it says Cancel/Change.

Additionally, you can go directly to this Change Flight page.

However, if you did not purchase your ticket online, you’ll need to call 1-800-435-9792 to speak with a Customer Representative.

Here are other ways to contact Southwest Airlines, including Facebook and mobile chat.

Here’s a video about the MAX:

 

In Summary

You CAN choose to fly a new Southwest plane if one is available for the cities you’re flying between.

Or you can avoid flying the MAX 8 if you want by finding out if it’s scheduled on the route you’re considering. Simply click on the flight number to see if you can find a 737-800 or 737 MAX 8. 

Is the type of Southwest plane you fly important to you?

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Author

  • Lyn Mettler

    Lyn Mettler is a longtime travel writer for US News & World Report, USA Today 10Best and The TODAY Show who created Families Fly Free, a program which teaches families her simple system to use travel rewards to fly for free.

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