airplaneWhen that Southwest Airlines flight made its emergency landing on Saturday after a 5-foot section of the fuselage burst open, it sent shivers through the flying community, beginning with the 118 passengers on board, many of whom probably wished they had paid more attention to the flight safety briefing before takeoff.

The Associated Press quoted federal investigators saying that the plane showed evidence of preexisting fatigue cracking. The feds also said that cracks were found and repaired a year ago in the frame of the Boeing 737-300, although an investigator said the two sets of cracks were probably unrelated.

Southwest canceled about 300 flights Sunday as it worked to inspect 79 planes it had pulled from service. According to a Los Angeles Times story, as of Sunday night, the inspections turned up two other planes with small cracks while 19 others were cleared, the airline said later.

Today, the Federal Aviation Authority said it would order airlines that fly some older model Boeing 737 jets to inspect the lap joints in the fuselages of the planes, the New York Times reported. The 737, sold in various models since the 1960s, is the most popular and widely used jetliner in the world.

Christine Negroni, a friend of mine who writes about aviation safety, took a hard look at this Southwest mishap and its implications for other carriers with aging fleets in her blog.

So what does all of that mean for traveling moms? Will it affect your family travel plans?

As for me, I’ll still be traveling, but I’ll pay more attention to the safety briefing when I get on the plane tomorrow to fly from Chicago to Texas.