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Is it possible to know which aircraft you’ll be flying with?

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, March 12, 2019  /  10:39 am
Is it possible to know which aircraft you’ll be flying with?

It is possible for people to find out which aircraft they will be flying with, but is it always accurate? (Shutterstock/File)

On Sunday, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed in a field outside Bishoftu town, around 60 kilometers from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing posted on Twitter that the carrier's aircraft was a 737 MAX 8 -- the same type of aircraft used for Lion Air flight JT610, which was traveling from Jakarta to Bangka Belitung in October 2018 but fell into the Java Sea several minutes after takeoff.

Both China and Ethiopia have grounded all aircraft of the same type, while the Transportation Ministry’s Directorate General of Air Transportation announced on Monday that it would carry out inspections and temporarily ground all Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Two carriers in Indonesia are said to possess Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, namely Garuda Indonesia (one plane) and Lion Air (10 planes).

For those wondering whether it is possible to find out which plane you are going to fly on prior to booking your trip, the answer is: Yes, it is possible.

A number of websites provide thorough information about flights and fleet types. TripAdvisor’s SeatGuru, for instance, displays seat maps of various carriers, including Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air and AirAsia. Meanwhile, Flightradar24FlightAware and FlightStats are among the websites that are able to track flights in real time.

Read also: Ombudsman official demands grounding of all Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia

Busy schedule: FlightAware's live flight tracking taken on Monday, March 11, 2019.Busy schedule: FlightAware's live flight tracking taken on Monday, March 11, 2019. (flightaware.com/File)

Is it accurate, though?

Alvin Lie, an aviation expert and member of the Indonesian Ombudsman, said it was rather difficult for passengers to confirm which aircraft they would be traveling with, particularly for short- and medium-haul flights. He added that short-haul was generally less than two hours, while medium-haul was two to five hours and long-haul was more than five hours. 

Alvin recalled his experience last week when he departed with Silk Air from Singapore to Yangon in Myanmar. His ticket displayed Boeing 737-800 as the aircraft and it did not change when he reserved a seat. “But when I checked in online 48 hours before the flight, the aircraft had been replaced with an Airbus A320,” Alvin told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

He explained that certain aircraft were used only for long-haul trips. “For instance, Singapore Airlines only uses A350-900 ULR for non-stop flights from Singapore to New York and other cities in the US; Qantas uses Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Perth to London non-stop; and Garuda uses Boeing 777-300 ER for Denpasar-London and Jakarta-London routes,” Alvin said.

Additionally, passengers still cannot choose the type of aircraft they fly with.

“There’s no rule that allows passengers to refuse to travel on certain types of aircraft,” said Alvin. However, he added that supervision over the aircraft had been running well and only airworthy planes were permitted to fly. (kes)