Alaska Airlines returns the 737 Max 9 to service with Seattle to San Diego flight

Alaska Airlines plans to return the 737 Max 9 aircraft to service on Friday, with the first flight leaving from Seattle this afternoon and landing in San Diego. The trip will mark the first for this model of Boeing aircraft since a mid-air blowout earlier this month prompted the FAA to ground the jets.

Alaska Flight 1146 will depart Seattle at 2:20 p.m. Pacific Time, the airline said. It plans to fly two additional 737 Max 9 flights later in the afternoon — Flight 621 from Las Vegas to Portland, Oregon, and Flight 1086 from Seattle to Ontario, California.

United Airlines, the only other U.S. airline that operates the aircraft, said its 737 Max 9 fleet would begin returning to service on Saturday. United told CBS News that it will allow passengers who don’t want to fly on a Max 9 aircraft to change flights without additional cost, depending on seat availability.

The mid-air blowout occurred when a door plug, which are panels designed to fit into an unused exit and transform it into wall section with a window, blew out a few minutes after departure. No passengers were seriously injured, but by luck no one was seated next to the door plug that fell off the fuselage. Experts said the incident could have been far worse if passengers had been seated next to that section or if the incident occurred later in the flight when people typically unbuckle their seat belts.