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Boeing 737 Max 8 planes grounded after Ethiopian Airlines crash

Your rights if you were due to fly on one of the aircraft models suspended by the CAA

Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have been banned from UK airspace by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) until further notice.

Both Tui Airways and Norweigan Air fly this model as part of their fleets, meaning affected flights will not be able to take off or land in the UK.

The CAA said this is a ‘precautionary measure’ after the same model aircraft crashed in Ethiopia on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.

It was the second fatal accident involving the Boeing 737 Max 8 model in less than five months.

Tui and Norwegian flights grounded

Tui has five of the aircraft in its fleet, and was due to start operating a sixth at the end of this week.

In a statement, the airline said anyone due to fly on a 737 Max 8 in the coming days would be flown on a different aircraft – and their holidays would not be affected.

Norwegian operates 18 of the aircraft which have been suspended amid safety fears.

In a statement, the airline said: ‘We would like to apologise to customers who will be affected by temporary cancellations and delays, but the safety and security of our customers and colleagues will never be compromised, and once authorities advise to cease operations we will of course comply.

Australia, China, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico have all suspended 737 Max 8 flights.

Cancelled Boeing 737 Max 8 flights: what are your rights?

If you were due to fly on a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane in the next few days, your airline should get in touch to inform you of any changes to your departure.

Airlines are likely to class the CAA suspension as an extraordinary circumstance, meaning you won’t be able to claim compensation for the delay.

But if you are held up by at least two hours, you are entitled to assistance in the form of:

  • two free phone calls, faxes or emails
  • free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay
  • free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required

When you’re entitled to assistance

Type of flight Distance How long you have to wait
Short-haul

Up to 1,500km (932 miles)

Flight time is usually about 2 hours or less

2 hours or more
Medium-haul

Between 1,500km – 3,500km (932-2,175 miles)

Flight time is usually between 2 about 4 hours

3 hours or more
Long-haul

More than 3,500km (2,175 miles)

Flight time is usually more than 4 hours

4 hours or more

Could I end up on a Boeing 737 Max 8 nplane?

While the UK has banned the Boeing 737 Max from operating in its airspace, other countries haven’t. That means codeshare passengers could end up on a Max 8 plane when they change aircraft in another country.

A codeshare agreement is a business arrangement, common in the aviation industry, in which two or more airlines publish and market a flight under their own airline designator and flight number (the airline flight code) as part of their published timetable or schedule.

So, for example, if you fly to the US with British Airlines, with part of the journey operated by American Airlines, you could end up on a Max plane.

Which? Travel editor, Rory Boland, said: ‘UK airlines that have sold tickets with codeshare partners operating these planes must inform passengers who might be affected, in advance, and give them the option to switch to another routing with a different aircraft, for free.’

Boeing 737 Max 8 planes: are they dangerous?

On Sunday, a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane operated by Ethiopia Airlines crashed en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi six minutes after taking off. All 157 passengers were killed.

In October, the same model aircraft – operated by Indonesian Airline Lion Air – crashed into the Java Sea 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta, killing all 189 passengers.

Following Sunday’s incident, Boeing said it has ‘full confidence in the safety’ of it 737 Max 8 jets and it is not issuing any new guidance.

In a statement, it said: ‘We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.’

A Boeing technical team will travel to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and US National Transportation Safety Board.

Read more: your flight rights in an extraordinary circumstance

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