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September 01, 2020 1:29pm
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Fliers trying to avoid Boeing planes, turning to prayer and anti-anxiety meds: report

Some air travelers say they are re-booking flights to avoid Boeing aircraft after a string of incidents involving the aircraft maker in recent months.

Some fliers nervous to travel aboard Boeing aircraft following a stream of flight problems in the last three months say they try to book flights on other planes while others say they’ve turned to prayer or medications to get through their trips.

The shift in response toward Boeing took off in January after a panel plugging the space reserved for an unused emergency door blew off an Alaska Airlines jetliner 16,000 feet above Oregon. While pilots landed the Boeing 737 Max 9 safely, the incident has left a mark on many travelers.

"I just can’t step on that plane," Leila Amineddoleh told NBC News, referring to Boeing aircraft. "Even if the chance of getting hurt on a Boeing flight, even with all these incidents, is slim."

The last deadly crash involving a U.S. airliner occurred in February 2009 in an industry that saw 9.6 million flights last year. More Americans die in motor-vehicle crashes each year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.


Even with the data, concerns about air safety – especially with Boeing planes – continue to be at the forefront of travelers' minds.

Another traveler, Stephanie Walls, told the news outlet that her normal ritual of praying during air travel wasn’t enough to stop her from re-booking a flight so she could travel on an Airbus plane instead of a Boeing aircraft.

Meanwhile, Adrian Rojas told the outlet that his fear of flying prompted him to go to therapy, and when he does fly, he takes anti-anxiety medication. He said he is avoiding the entire Boeing Max series of planes and re-books flights accordingly.


"I just know that it’s something I would be thinking about a lot right as I get on the plane, so I’m just trying to limit that for my mental health," Rojas said.

Since the Alaska Airlines incident, travel search engine Kayak has observed a significant shift in user behavior, reporting a staggering 15-fold increase in the usage of its aircraft filter in January. The data highlights a heightened desire to know the exact model of aircraft prior to booking their flights.

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into the incident. The FBI also began notifying passengers that they may be a "possible victim of a crime." 

Boeing recently failed 33 aspects of a federal audit with a total of 97 points of noncompliance, according to The New York Times. The company passed 56 points of the audit.

The company’s CEO David Calhoun wrote in a memo to eomployees in late January that "this increased scrutiny – whether from ourselves, from our regulator, or from others – will make us better."

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