First Flown: 14th June 2021
Boeing 737- MAX8 - 200 (high density MAX)
Ryanair (launch customer)
197 all-economy seating at 28 inches
For those who watch the videos, https://youtu.be/e-SPuDWQFT8
Hi everyone, I didn’t intend to produce a trip report for this journey. However, it unexpectedly was my first flight on a Boeing 737-MAX, and I haven’t seen a trip report for the new 737-8-200 high-density aircraft launched by Ryanair. As this is the newest narrow-body type in the world, here you go.
So what is a 737-8-200, is it just some marketing thing? Well, no. Boeing’s 737-8-200 is the latest narrow-body type to be launched in the world. The 737-800 and MAX8 can physically fit about 200 seats, but they are only certified to 189 seats because there aren’t enough exits in an emergency. The 737-8-200 gets around this by using the 737-9 door layout and shrinking the galley space. So although the 737-8-200 is the same size as both 737-800 and MAX8, it seats more passengers.
So far there are only six 737-8-200s flying, making it a pretty rare aircraft. It hadn't crossed my mind that I might catch one, Ryanair Group fly 467 aircraft (says Wikipedia), so flying one of those six seemed really unlikely.
Back to today’s trip. Unfortunately, there was a problem with Ryanair’s app, which meant people’s uploaded COVID documents couldn’t be viewed. For the poor ground crew that was a nightmare. Every single person had to find their documents from some other place. So what's normally very quick, took nearly one hour.
The MAX’s extra high nose wheel was rather noticeable upon boarding. I was surprised that quite a few people seemed to realize we were flying on a MAX. Ryanair has completely removed any mention of that brand name, but somehow people knew. Interestingly, at Stansted passengers were remarking how pleased they were to land and get off a MAX. I’d always thought nobody would care.
Onboard unless you are sat to the rear, there is nothing to give away that this isn’t another Ryanair plane. I was pleasantly surprised that the knee crunchingly tight 28-inch pitch was, well, actually pretty OK. The seats are designed to maximize space and they do it well. Not quite as well as Wizz Air’s A321Neo, but none the less it’s OK.
The boarding delays meant a 1720 departure became a 1746 one. Looking on the bright side that meant a late arrival and no cheesy “you’ve flown on another on time Ryanair flight” jingle. Small mercies! Who thought that jingle is a good idea???
Taxiing to the runway, Air Greenland’s big red A330 was parked in the maintenance area, plus a Norwegian 737 landed. So they gave some unusual metal to spy.
My first impressions of the MAX were that it’s a little noisier than the A321NEO but quieter than the 737-800. I find the 737-800 to be a very smooth plane that's far more stable than the Airbuses. So I was disappointed that the MAX gave quite sharp reactions to flight inputs. I was also surprised that the aircraft seemed to flutter consistently at cruise altitude, not severely, but noticeably. On a day with clear skies and almost no wind, that was rather odd.
I was pleased that my one bugbear with the 737-800 seemed to be fixed. My ears and sinuses always become painful on 737-NGs, but not at all on the MAX. Great stuff.
The service pattern was unchanged, first hot food orders, then drinks and snacks, then scratch cards, and finally duty-free. One change is that smaller carts are used, I imagine because of the reduced galley space.
Landing at Stansted was very smooth, which the 737-800 often isn't.
Overall, 28 inches of pitch with the Boeing's narrower seat, can only be so pleasant. My real surprise was the flutter. I don't know if that's a typical characteristic, but I really disliked it. If you've flown the MAX have you experienced the same thing, or do you think it was a one off? Let me know.
Thanks for reading.