This week in air travel: another big update on the 737 Max and the rollout of biometric boarding at Dallas – Fort Worth for American Airlines.
This week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reportedly began considering an October certification flight for the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which has been grounded following two fatal crashes on Indonesia’s Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines. An October flight would put the aircraft on track to return early in the fourth quarter.
Separately, Southwest Airlines extended its flight cancellations due to the 737 Max grounding through January of next year. Previously, the airline had listed flight cancellations through November 2. The airline says the move amounts to the cancellation of approximately 200 flights per day.
In airport news, American Airlines began using biometric boarding for customers arriving at Dallas – Fort Worth, which is its largest hub. American customers traveling on select international departures from DFW Terminal D can opt for a new one-step facial recognition program instead of using their boarding pass. The program scans their face and verifies their identity with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). No customer biometrics will ever be stored using this new process, the airline said. Customers with a U.S. passport may also choose not to use the new system and board with their regular boarding pass.
Finally, in new flight news, low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines announced 15 new nonstop routes from Newark Liberty International Airport, including two new international destinations: Cancun, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The two new international routes will begin in March and April 2020, subject to government approval.
New domestic routes out of Newark include Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami and San Juan, launching November 14, 2019, as well as Palm Beach, Phoenix and Atlanta, launching December 10, 2019. Domestic routes launching March and April 2020 are Tampa, Denver, Chicago O’Hare and Raleigh – Durham. Those months will also see the airline launch a Newark – Ontario flight.