ARLINGTON, Va. (ABC7) — For people flying in and out of the Reagan National Airport, Wednesday’s grounding of all 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 jets brought mixed reactions.
Some flights were cancelled. Others were already in the air when the emergency order came down, and were grounded the moment they touched down.
“Literally when I landed, my wife called me and she was so concerned because I was on a 737 MAX,” said passenger John Iino.
Iino was onboard a 737 MAX 8 operated by American Airlines. The flight originated in Los Angeles and was the last 737 MAX to land at Reagan National Airport on Wednesday, just after 4 p.m.
“As soon as we touched down my wife was tracking the flight and called and said are you okay? And she said by the way they just grounded all the flights so you better check the plane you’re coming in on, on the way home,” he said.
Iino did not find out that the U.S. had grounded all of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft while he was still in the air onboard that plane.
But others on his fight were connected to WiFi, and got the update on their cell phones and lap tops as they were still in the air.
“It was probably an hour and a half left into the flight, that’s when I saw the alert,” another passenger told ABC 7, shortly after the plane landed. “Little nervous, but we are here.”
Others on that same flight said they were not worried, despite safety concerns raised after the 737 MAX 8 was involved in two deadly crashes over the last five months.
“I didn’t hear about it til I landed, but I knew that other countries had grounded it. There was nothing scary, the pilot was wonderful, the flight was smooth,” said 737 MAX 8 passengers KC Johnson, who was also onboard the American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to DC.
Some passengers showed up to the airport only to learn that their flights, scheduled onboard a 737 MAX, had been cancelled.
Among those impacted by the cancellations was a group of about 80 middle school students and teachers from Florida . The group spent the last few days visiting DC. On Wednesday evening, they were scheduled to fly home to Miami onboard a 737 Max 8 operated by Southwest Airlines.
They learned the flight had been cancelled when they got to the airport at about 3 p.m.
“We were worried, but actually relieved it was cancelled,” said Otilia Gallo, a school nurse and chaperone. “You know, it’s a lot of lives that you’re dealing with, especially kids. It’s a relief.”