Grounded for nearly two years after crashes killed nearly 350 people, Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft is once again flying paying customers to and from U.S. airports — and Miami International Tuesday was first on the list.
American Airlines Flight 718 to LaGuardia was about half full, with 87 passengers, including American Airlines President Robert Isom.
"The aircraft is much more efficient. It's much more green. It's a new plane that ought to be flying and other aircraft are the ones that ought to be left at home right now," Isom said. "So this aircraft is ready to go."
Many on the flight booked tickets specifically to be on the first domestic flight since the grounding of the plane was lifted last month.
"I want to show the world, show everybody, things are safe, traveling is safe with the airline, with the aircraft, and have some fun with it," said Malik Jones, who said he works for another airline company, but wanted to experience the new version of the plane as a passenger.
Isom said about 1,400 American pilots have now been trained on how to fly the new iteration of the Boeing 737 Max, adding all pilots will be trained by the end of March.
"We have 24 of the Max that are in service and we've been taking deliveries over the last few weeks," Isom said. "So by the end of the year, as we close out, we should have 34 aircraft that are ready to go, in service at American Airlines."
FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, a former military and airline pilot, operated a test flight in September and vouched for the plane's safety, saying he would put his family on it.
American plans to make one round trip a day between Miami and New York with the planes through Jan. 4 before putting the Max on more routes. United Airlines plans to resume flights with the Max in February, and Southwest Airlines plans to resume flights with the planes in March.