Southwest Airlines Co.today shared a promise to Employees and Customers that Safety is, and always will be, the carrier’s top priority from check-in to deplaning the aircraft.
The Southwest Promise encompasses additional cleaning practices across the fleet and throughout the day; implements modified procedures to support distancing and contact-free interaction; and it equips Employees with additional protection and policies to bolster their ability to safely transport Southwest Customers and each other.
“We feel extreme gratitude for those who are serving on the frontlines of this pandemic. And from our own frontlines to our back offices, we share an immense pride in the service we’re providing to Southwest Customers for whom travel is essential right now,” Gary Kelly, Southwest Chairman and CEO said. “Our sense of responsibility cannot be understated. In the future, we are committed to reconnecting our Customers to people and places they love. So, as we warmly await their return, we add the Southwest Promise to a nearly 50-year commitment of unmatched Hospitality and an unwavering focus on Safety.”
The Southwest Promise includes elements designed to further the well-being of Customers and Employees at various points throughout their travel journeys:
Personal Protection and Wellness
- Employee Face Masks or Coverings: Beginning May 3, Southwest is requiring Customer-facing Employees to wear face masks or coverings when interacting with travelers, especially when distancing recommendations cannot be met. Of course, Employees will continue to comply with all local requirements for wearing masks under various circumstances.
- Customer Face Masks or Coverings and Sanitizer: Southwest encourages Customers to bring their own face mask or covering, along with hand sanitizer, while traveling. Additionally, Customers will be required to wear face coverings or a mask starting May 11. If a Customer forgets their mask, Southwest will have one available for them.
- Fit to Fly: Above all, Customers who feel ill or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 infection should remain home and cancel or change their trip utilizing the flexible policies Southwest affords all Customers.
Disinfection and Cleaning Around the Clock
- In Airports: We are cleaning Southwest leased spaces in airports—ticket counters, gates, baggage claims—multiple times a day.
- At Every Seat: Sanitizing wipes will be available onboard, upon request, for Customers who do not have their own and wish to touch up their personal space. The wipes will contain a solution proven safe and effective in aircraft settings.
- Between Flights, Every Time: New procedures will introduce additional cleaning between flights to supplement the work of Flight Attendants who keep cabins tidy.
- Overnight, Every Night: Teams will continue working nightly to clean all interior surfaces with broad-spectrum disinfectants and multi-purpose cleaners. They give additional attention to higher touchpoint areas from nose to tail, from the flight deck to galleys and lavatories, and at every tray table, armrest, seatbelt, window, air vent, and buttons.
- In Hangars: In mid-April, Southwest began utilizing an electrostatic disinfectant and anti-microbial spray applied on every interior surface of the aircraft that kills viruses on contact and forms a protective shield for 30 days.
- In the Air: Southwest will continue utilizing HEPA air filters to circulate air throughout the cabin on every flight while effectively introducing fresh air into the cabin at regular intervals. These HEPA air filters remove 99.97% of airborne particles—similar to technology found in hospitals.
- Limiting the Number of Passengers Onboard: Beginning May 2, to allow Customers to spread out in comfortable distances, the total number of passengers seated in the cabin will be reduced temporarily. Customers may still pick their own seat, and Southwest will not be blocking seats or directing seating. In our open seating environment, families or those traveling together may sit together.
- Modified Boarding and Deplaning: Beginning May 2, smaller groups of 10 people at a time will be welcomed to board sequentially by boarding position. Flight Attendants also will provide guidance during deplaning to maintain distancing.
- Suspended Inflight Beverage and Snack Service: Flight Attendants will continue to focus on every aspect of Safety while drink and snack service remains discontinued. Of course, Customers are welcome to bring snacks and non-alcoholic beverages to consume onboard.
- Shields for Protection: Plexiglas® shields are being installed at ticket counters and gate podiums, and starting this month, we will be posting airport signage and floor markers to encourage distancing in gate areas.
- Mobile Boarding Passes: Customers should download a mobile boarding pass before arriving at the airport via the Southwest mobile app to limit touchpoints.