Some passengers on Boeing Co's 737 MAX jets wished they had known what they were getting into when they boarded planes in the US yesterday.

Madison Applebee told Reuters she would never had boarded her plane heading to Washington, DC. had she known what she was getting into. "No, absolutely not," she said.

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The United States has since joined Europe, China and other countries in grounding Boeing Co's 737 MAX jets, because of safety concerns after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157 people, the second disaster involving the 737 in less than five months.

The world's biggest plane maker is facing its most serious crisis in years, as the decades-old 737 programme, one of its most reliable sources of cash and profits, takes a severe blow to its prestige.

The US Federal Aviation Administration cited new satellite data and evidence from the scene of Sunday's crash near Addis Ababa for its decision to ground the planes.

It's the second time the FAA has halted flights of a Boeing plane in six years. It had grounded the 787 Dreamliner in 2013 because of problems with smoking batteries.

US airlines that operate the 737 MAX, Southwest Airlines Co , American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines, said they were working to re-book passengers.

Southwest is the world's largest operator of the 737 MAX 8 with 34 jets, while American flies 24 MAX 8s and United 14 MAX 9s.

The grounding will remain in effect as the FAA investigates.