Why I'll fly the 737 MAX again
Much has been written about the Boeing 737 MAX in the past nine months. Following two fatal crashes shortly after its introduction, and the politics surrounding its indefinite grounding earlier this year, it seems like wherever I turn on social media I see people talking about the aircraft.
I’ve been asked about the MAX a lot too.
Until now, I’ve refused to comment on the whole situation. I’m a passenger with no technical or safety expertise when it comes to aviation, so whatever my thoughts and prejudices are, they are bound to be skewed or prone to exaggeration.
I have over 135,000 subscribers on YouTube and 8,000 followers on Twitter. For better or worse, some people care a lot about what I think, so I’ve felt a responsibility to stay in my lane and allow only those who are qualified to do so pass comment on the subject.
I feel this responsibility acutely, because for the duration of the 737 MAX “situation” I’ve witnessed a tremendous amount of alarm across the traditional media as well as on Twitter. I’ve seen regular punters say they won’t fly the MAX, I’ve seen people take refunds and cancel trips rather than go on holiday, and I’ve noticed a general decrease in trust towards Boeing and the aviation industry in general. People don’t make logical choices when it comes to air travel. Even I don’t. This is fine, and don’t let me tell you you’re somehow wrong to be afraid of flying.
So many people contact me through email, or Twitter, or YouTube comments saying how my videos and my style of presentation have helped them overcome some sort of travel anxiety. Many ask me for help in overcoming a fear of flying (which unfortunately I’m not able to really provide, as I’ve always loved it!).
I want to make four main points:
1) I will fly the 737 MAX again, and will actively seek it out and make a video about my trip when it is back in passenger service. I want people to see I am not afraid of it, because that’s the truth. Flying this aircraft does not bother me. Regardless of the horrendous loss of life it has caused so far, I estimate the MAX in its pre-grounding guise to be less likely to send me home in a bodybag than any road transport I take to the airport.
2) Commercial aviation is extremely safe in the grand scheme of things. Fear of flying and the perception of danger involved in flying are not logical responses - even if they are understandable. Air crashes are rare; they make for dramatic pictures and conjure up dreadful thoughts, whereas road accidents are so common that most of us have either come across one or been involved in one ourselves.
3) If you have influence, try to use it wisely. I have seen some people, who are patently not qualified to talk about the safety implications of flying a commercial airliner, use platforms they have been given to sow doom and gloom. This should be left to actual experts, who have a responsibility to inform the public truthfully and dispassionately.
4) I believe travel is the best form of education and is open to more people than ever. Doing it will make you happier, give you perspective on life, and turn you into a more rounded person. In a world threatened by retreat and insularism, global connectivity has never been more important. I’ve been dismayed to see the effect of the Boeing saga on public trust, and I want to share my personal confidence in air travel for what small difference it will make.
I hope you will join me in continuing to enjoy travel. Flying is still by far the safest way to do it.