Southwest Airlines just announced its initial routes for the its new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft that’s being rolled out in the fall of 2017. Southwest is planning on having 10 737 MAX 8 aircrafts in their fleet around that time with a total of 14 to be in operation by the end of 2017. The low-cost carrier also has 200 737 MAX aircrafts on order, which include 30 737 MAX 7s and 170 737 MAX 8s. With this addition, Southwest will be retiring its 737-300 fleet.
The new routes: a throwback
The routes for the 737 MAX are scheduled to start on October 1, 2017 and will run from:
- Dallas to Houston (WN 1),
- Houston to San Antonio (WN 2), and
- San Antonio to Dallas (WN3).
(These are the three original routes that Southwest ran when it started its operations back in the 1970s when it began with only three 737-200s.)
Although Southwest will be among the first carriers to operate the 737 MAX they’ll be beaten to the chase by Norwegian Air Shuttle, who will be the first airline to take delivery of the MAX coming this May.
Eventually Southwest intends on keeping the MAX aircrafts on its longer flights with overnights stops at hubs like Dallas for maintenance. These permanent routes haven’t been announced as of yet, but with the extended range we can probably hope for more non-stop routes.
New interior and galley space
The 737 MAX will be similar to the 737-800s already operated by Southwest but will feature new improved galley spaces and a new “heart” cabin decor. The new galley spaces are said to make things easier for the Southwest flight attendants who had some issues with limited space in the 738. The number of seats will be the same (175) but will feature the new “bold blue” seat manufactured by B/E Aerospace. The seat, already featured on some 737-800s, is about .7 inches wider and is also a lot lighter, saving about 200 pounds of weight on the aircraft.
I always prefer the 800 over the 700 because it gives Brad and I a better shot of grabbing the emergency exit rows, since the 800s have a pair of 2-seater rows, so I suspect that same layout will continue.
More effecient aircraft
Although appearance will be similar the new aircraft is expected to perform much more effeciently. It’s said to be 14 percent more fuel efficient and able to increase its range by 300 to 500 miles. In fact, Boeing is calling the Max the most efficient single-aisle aircraft on the market.
A large reason for the efficiency is the new engine, the CFM International LEAP-1B, which in addition to burning less fuel and producing less emissions, it’s also quieter. The aircraft also features a new winglet technology with a split tip, allowing for an additional 1.5% improvement in fuel economy by maximizing lift.
Southwest is one of my favorite airlines due to the possibilities offered by the Southwest Companion Pass that Brad and I are still enjoying this year. Although Southwest’s product is pretty basic in terms of its seating product, it will be interesting to see how much quieter these 737 MAXs are in the sky and it’s always nice to have a little bit wider seats to relax in.