Travel website Kayak will soon allow travelers to filter trips by aircraft model.
The company is introducing the feature after a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet flown by Ethiopian Airlines crashed Sunday, killing everyone aboard. It was the second time that type of jet was involved in a fatal crash in less than five months. A Lion Air jet from Indonesia went down shortly after takeoff last October.
“We’ve recently received feedback to make Kayak’s filters more granular in order to exclude particular aircraft models from search queries,” said Giorgos Zacharia, chief technology officer for Kayak. “We are releasing that enhancement this week and are committed to providing our customers with all the information they need to travel with confidence.”
Aviation authorities in many countries around the world are ordering 737 Max planes not to fly in their airspace. The US Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order Wednesday afternoon banning the use of the Max 8 and 9s in the United (UAL) States. American Airlines (AAL), Southwest (LUV) and United (UAL) all used versions of the 737 Max until that order was issued.
Airlines already let passengers know what type of aircraft is intended for any given flight at the time of booking. That’s necessary so passengers can select their seats.
And Kayak — along with Booking.com and Priceline, which are also owned by Booking Holdings (BKNG) — already allows travelers to sort by plane type, such as a narrow body plane, regional jet, widebody jet or turbo-prop plane.
But it hasn’t been possible to search and filter by a specific model before now. Among Booking-owned websites, the feature will be limited to Kayak for the time being.
For people who are trying to avoid flights on a particular aircraft model, though, simply booking a trip without one is no guarantee. Sometimes airlines change flight equipment at the last minute.
Passengers are growing concerned about flying on the 737 Max planes in the wake of the crashes. InsureMyTrip, a travel insurance company, said Wednesday it has received a growing number of calls from concerned travelers who don’t want to fly on a Boeing 737 Max. Although travel insurance will pay if a flight is delayed, canceled, or grounded due to this problems, in most cases a passenger deciding he or she doesn’t want to fly on a certain plane isn’t enough to pay a claim.
Both the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes are still under investigation, and there is no evidence that they are linked in causality. But there are similarities, including the model of the plane and the fact that both flights lasted only minutes before they came down. A preliminary investigation shows that pilots in the Lion Air crash struggled to get control of the plane after the nose was forced down by an automatic safety feature. The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said his pilots also were reporting problems controlling the plane before the crash.
Acting US FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell told reporters Wednesday that the grounding will remain in effect pending new information.
“Since this accident occurred we were resolute that we would not take action until we had data,” Elwell said. “That data coalesced today.”
Elwell said the new data was “added fidelity — missing pieces that we did not have prior to today.” It aligned the Ethiopian flight data to the Lion Air incident.
Boeing (BA) said it continues to have “full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max.” But it said it recommended the “temporary suspension” of operations of its entire fleet of Max plans “out of an abundance of caution.”
– CNN’s Richard Davis and Bronte Lord contributed to this report.