Boeing 737 Max 8 Vs 737-800: Key Differences Explained

If you are looking to book an upcoming flight and have a choice between the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 737-800, you may be wondering what the key differences are between these two Boeing aircraft models and which one is better.

In short, while the 737 MAX 8 is the newer model with some improved features, the 737-800 has a longer safety track record. The 737-800 entered service in 1998, while the 737 MAX 8 only entered service in 2017.

After two fatal crashes, the 737 MAX 8 was grounded worldwide from March 2019 to November 2020 due to a faulty flight control system. Since returning to service with software fixes, the aircraft now has a clean safety record.

In this comprehensive 3000 word guide, we will compare the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 737-800 in detail across various factors like safety, technology, passenger experience, specifications and more. Read on to become an informed passenger before your next flight on one of these popular narrow-body Boeing aircraft.

Background and History

The Boeing 737-800, a variant of the popular 737 family, was first launched in 1994. It was designed as an improved version of the 737-400, with upgraded engines and increased passenger capacity. The 737-800 quickly became a favorite among airlines around the world, thanks to its fuel efficiency, reliability, and versatility.

It can carry up to 189 passengers and has a range of approximately 3,115 nautical miles.

When the 737 MAX 8 was launched

The Boeing 737 MAX 8, on the other hand, was introduced in 2017 as the latest member of the 737 family. It was developed as a successor to the highly successful 737 NG (Next Generation) series, with the objective of offering even greater fuel efficiency and improved performance.

The 737 MAX 8 features the new CFM International LEAP-1B engines, advanced aerodynamics, and state-of-the-art avionics. It can carry up to 210 passengers and has a range of approximately 3,550 nautical miles.

Key reasons Boeing developed the 737 MAX 8

There were several key reasons why Boeing decided to develop the 737 MAX 8. Firstly, fuel efficiency was a top priority. With rising fuel costs and increasing environmental concerns, airlines were demanding aircraft that consume less fuel per passenger.

The 737 MAX 8 delivers approximately 14% better fuel efficiency compared to its predecessor, thanks to its advanced engines and aerodynamic improvements.

Secondly, Boeing aimed to enhance the overall performance of the 737 family. The 737 MAX 8 incorporates advanced technologies to improve climb performance, reduce noise, and enhance overall flying experience for both passengers and crew members.

The aircraft also features the latest in-flight entertainment systems, improved cabin comfort, and more spacious overhead storage bins.

Lastly, Boeing sought to ensure the 737 MAX 8 meets the latest safety standards. The aircraft includes advanced safety features such as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which is designed to automatically adjust the aircraft’s pitch to prevent stalling.

Additionally, the 737 MAX 8 underwent rigorous testing and certification processes to ensure its compliance with global aviation regulatory standards.


The 737 MAX 8 groundings and fixes

The safety of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 has been a topic of concern since the two fatal crashes that led to its worldwide grounding in 2019. The crashes, Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, raised questions about the aircraft’s design and the effectiveness of its safety systems.

As a result, Boeing has made significant changes to the 737 MAX 8 to address the issues identified.

One key fix implemented by Boeing is the update to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was found to have played a role in both crashes. The MCAS is designed to automatically adjust the aircraft’s pitch in certain situations, but it was found to have been triggered by faulty data from a single sensor in both accidents.

The revised MCAS now takes input from multiple sensors, reducing the chances of a faulty activation.

In addition to the MCAS update, Boeing has also made other software enhancements and provided additional pilot training to ensure that pilots are fully aware of the system and how to respond to any abnormal situations that may arise.

Overall safety records of the 737-800 and MAX 8

When comparing the safety records of the Boeing 737-800 and the 737 MAX 8, it’s important to note that the 737-800 has been in service for a longer period of time and has a larger fleet size. This means that there is more statistical data available to assess its safety performance.

The 737-800 has a strong safety record, with millions of flights completed and a low accident rate. It has been proven to be a reliable and safe aircraft for both passengers and crew. However, it’s important to acknowledge that no aircraft is completely immune to accidents, and there have been incidents involving the 737-800 in the past.

As for the 737 MAX 8, it is still relatively new in terms of its operational history. While the two crashes that led to its grounding were significant and raised concerns about its safety, it’s important to note that the aircraft has undergone extensive testing and improvements since then.

The fixes implemented by Boeing aim to address the issues identified and enhance the overall safety of the aircraft.

Passenger confidence factors

The grounding of the 737 MAX 8 and the subsequent media coverage of the crashes have undoubtedly impacted passenger confidence in the aircraft. Many travelers may have concerns and questions about its safety, leading to a decrease in demand for flights operated by the MAX 8.

However, it’s worth noting that aviation authorities around the world, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), have cleared the 737 MAX 8 to resume operations after the necessary fixes and enhancements were made.

This decision is based on extensive reviews and assessments of the aircraft’s safety.

Boeing and airlines operating the 737 MAX 8 have also been working to regain passenger confidence through transparent communication and additional safety measures. This includes providing information about the software updates and enhancements made to the aircraft, as well as offering flexibility for passengers who may still have concerns about flying on the MAX 8.

Ultimately, the decision to fly on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 or a 737-800 is a personal one, and passengers may have differing levels of comfort and confidence in each aircraft. It’s important for travelers to stay informed about the latest developments and make their own decisions based on their individual preferences and beliefs.


Dimensions and capacity comparison

When it comes to dimensions, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 737-800 have some notable differences. The MAX 8 is slightly longer, measuring approximately 129 feet compared to the 737-800, which is around 129 feet.

Additionally, the MAX 8 has a wingspan of approximately 117 feet, whereas the 737-800 has a wingspan of around 117 feet.

In terms of capacity, the MAX 8 can accommodate up to 178 passengers in a typical two-class configuration, while the 737-800 can carry up to 189 passengers in a similar setup. This means that the MAX 8 offers a slightly more spacious cabin for passengers.

Wings, engines and fuel efficiency

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 features advanced technology in its wings, engines, and overall design, which contribute to its improved fuel efficiency. The MAX 8 comes equipped with CFM International LEAP-1B engines, designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

These engines, coupled with the aerodynamic improvements in the wings, make the MAX 8 around 14% more fuel-efficient compared to the 737-800.

Additionally, the MAX 8 incorporates advanced winglets known as “Advanced Technology Winglets,” which further enhance fuel efficiency by reducing drag during flight. These winglets help the MAX 8 to achieve a longer range and lower operating costs.

Range capabilities

When it comes to range capabilities, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 has a slight advantage over the 737-800. The MAX 8 has a maximum range of approximately 3,550 nautical miles, allowing it to fly longer distances without the need for refueling.

On the other hand, the 737-800 has a maximum range of around 3,060 nautical miles, making it better suited for shorter routes.

It’s important to note that these range capabilities may vary depending on factors such as payload, weather conditions, and altitude. However, the MAX 8’s extended range can be beneficial for airlines looking to operate on longer routes.

Cruising speed and altitude

Both the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 737-800 have similar cruising speeds and altitudes. They typically cruise at a speed of around 540 knots (approximately 620 mph) and at altitudes of up to 41,000 feet. These specifications ensure a smooth and efficient flight experience for passengers, while also allowing for optimal fuel consumption.

It’s worth mentioning that these speeds and altitudes can vary depending on factors such as air traffic control instructions, weather conditions, and aircraft weight. However, both the MAX 8 and 737-800 are designed to operate at high speeds and altitudes, ensuring a safe and comfortable journey for passengers.

Technology and Passenger Experience

When comparing the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the 737-800, there are several key differences that impact both the technology and passenger experience. These differences can be seen in the cockpit and avionics, passenger cabin layout and features, as well as the inflight entertainment and connectivity options.

Cockpit and Avionics

The cockpit of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 is equipped with advanced avionics systems that enhance safety and efficiency. It features the latest technology, including the Boeing Sky Interior, which offers improved lighting and spaciousness.

The avionics systems in the MAX 8 also include the latest flight management systems, which aid in navigation and automation. These technological advancements contribute to a smoother and more comfortable flying experience for both pilots and passengers.

Passenger Cabin Layout and Features

The passenger cabin layout and features of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 have been designed with passenger comfort in mind. The aircraft offers a spacious and modern interior, with larger windows that allow for more natural light and a greater sense of openness.

The seats are designed to provide maximum comfort, with adjustable headrests and ample legroom. Additionally, the MAX 8 offers improved overhead storage space, allowing passengers to easily stow their carry-on luggage.

Compared to the 737-800, the MAX 8 also offers improved noise reduction technology, which helps to create a quieter and more peaceful cabin environment. This is achieved through the use of advanced sound insulation materials and redesigned engine nacelles.

Passengers can enjoy a more enjoyable flight experience with reduced noise levels.

Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Options

Both the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the 737-800 offer a range of inflight entertainment and connectivity options for passengers. However, the MAX 8 takes it a step further with more advanced systems. Passengers onboard the MAX 8 can enjoy a wide selection of movies, TV shows, and music through the seatback entertainment screens.

They can also stay connected with friends and family through onboard Wi-Fi, allowing them to browse the internet, check emails, and even make video calls.

With these enhanced inflight entertainment and connectivity options, passengers have more ways to stay entertained and connected throughout their journey. Whether it’s catching up on their favorite TV show or staying productive during a business trip, the MAX 8 offers a superior passenger experience in terms of technology and convenience.

Airlines Operating Each Model

Airlines operating the 737-800

The Boeing 737-800 is a popular aircraft model that is widely used by airlines all over the world. Many major airlines have included the 737-800 in their fleet due to its reliability, fuel efficiency, and passenger capacity. Some of the notable airlines operating the 737-800 include:

  • Delta Air Lines
  • American Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Ryanair

These airlines have recognized the value and performance of the 737-800 and have chosen it as a workhorse for their operations. With its range of approximately 3,000 nautical miles and seating capacity of around 160-189 passengers, the 737-800 is suitable for both short-haul and medium-haul flights.

Airlines operating the 737 MAX 8

The Boeing 737 MAX 8, on the other hand, is a newer model that was introduced in 2017. Despite some controversies surrounding its safety features, several airlines have still chosen to include the 737 MAX 8 in their fleet. Some of the airlines operating this model include:

  • American Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • WestJet
  • China Southern Airlines

It’s important to note that the 737 MAX 8 has faced some restrictions and grounding orders from aviation authorities due to safety concerns. However, Boeing has been working diligently to address these issues and ensure the safety of the aircraft.

As a result, some airlines have resumed operating the 737 MAX 8 after implementing the necessary updates and modifications.

Airlines appreciate the 737 MAX 8 for its improved fuel efficiency and enhanced capabilities compared to older models. With its range of approximately 3,550 nautical miles and seating capacity of around 162-210 passengers, the 737 MAX 8 is suitable for both short-haul and medium-haul flights, just like the 737-800.

For the most up-to-date information on which airlines are currently operating the 737 MAX 8, it is recommended to check with the official websites of the airlines or refer to authoritative aviation industry sources like Flightglobal or Airfleets.net.

Cost Considerations

When comparing the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the 737-800, cost considerations play a significant role in the decision-making process for airlines. Let’s take a closer look at some key factors that impact the overall costs associated with these aircraft models.

Aircraft price

The initial purchase price of an aircraft is a major consideration for airlines. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 has a list price of approximately $121.6 million, while the 737-800 comes in at around $106.4 million.

However, it’s important to note that airlines often negotiate significant discounts on these prices, so the actual purchase price may vary.

Fuel efficiency and savings

Fuel efficiency is a crucial factor in determining operational costs for airlines. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 offers improved fuel efficiency compared to the 737-800. With its advanced CFM LEAP-1B engines and aerodynamic enhancements, the MAX 8 can reduce fuel consumption by up to 14% compared to its predecessor.

This translates to substantial savings on fuel expenses for airlines over the lifespan of the aircraft.

According to a study conducted by Boeing, the 737 MAX 8 can save airlines up to 1.8 million liters of fuel per year, resulting in a reduction of approximately 4,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

These fuel savings not only contribute to environmental sustainability but also provide significant cost advantages for airlines.

Maintenance costs

Maintenance costs are another important consideration for airlines when evaluating aircraft options. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 incorporates advanced technology and engineering enhancements, resulting in improved reliability and reduced maintenance requirements compared to the 737-800.

Furthermore, the MAX 8’s maintenance program is designed to optimize efficiency and minimize downtime. This means that airlines can benefit from reduced maintenance costs, fewer scheduled inspections, and increased aircraft availability for revenue-generating flights.

It is worth noting that the 737 MAX 8 has undergone additional scrutiny and modifications following the grounding in 2019. These modifications include updates to the flight control software, additional pilot training requirements, and enhanced safety measures, all aimed at ensuring the aircraft’s safety and reliability.


In summary, while the 737 MAX 8 has some improved features and lower operating costs, the 737-800 boasts a longer track record of safe service. For nervous flyers, the 737-800 may provide greater peace of mind.

But the MAX 8’s problems have been fixed and its safety is now on par with other modern jets.

By understanding the key similarities and differences between these two popular single-aisle jets, passengers can feel informed when booking future travel. Factors like aircraft history, specifications, interior features and airline preference will help guide your decision.

Safe travels on your next flight, whichever Boeing 737 model you end up aboard!

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