Alaska prepares for the Boeing 737 MAX to safely join our fleet with first passenger flights expected in March

This March, Alaska Airlines is scheduled to start welcoming guests on our first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. We currently don’t have a MAX in our fleet. We expect delivery of the first plane in January, followed by several more throughout 2021.

On Nov. 18, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified the MAX, giving the approval to all airlines to begin the process of bringing the aircraft back into service. Our guests will only fly on a MAX aircraft after we’ve tested and verified all required and necessary processes to prepare the aircraft for passenger service.

We have high expectations and confidence that Boeing has made the required changes and necessary improvements to the MAX. With these enhancements and the FAA’s thorough inspection processes, this aircraft will meet the high safety standards we expect.

For us, safety is always priority number one. If an aircraft is not safe, we won’t fly it.

As a safety professional with decades of experience, including many years with the FAA, I’ve had the opportunity to stay very close to the FAA and Boeing through the grounding and recertification of the 737 MAX,” said Max Tidwell, Alaska’s vice president of safety and security. “I’m very confident with all the steps the FAA and Boeing have taken and the steps we’re taking at Alaska to prepare us to safely bring this aircraft into our fleet.”

One of Alaska’s 737-9 MAX at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Once our first MAX is delivered, we’ll begin two months of testing and verifying all the necessary processes to prepare the aircraft for passenger service, which is scheduled to begin in March. Our teams will put the plane through its paces, which includes flying it more than 19,000 miles and over 50 flight hours all over the country, including Alaska and Hawaii.

In the coming weeks, our pilots will also begin the required eight hours of flight simulator and computer-based training that focuses on the operation of the MAX. Our pilot training program for the MAX is more extensive than what’s required by the FAA. All of our maintenance technicians undergo a minimum 40 hours of training on the variations between the MAX and our existing 737 NG fleet, with certain technicians receiving additional specialized training.

Learn more about our dedication to safety and our training programs for the MAX at