Southwest has strengthened their commitment to customer health with some new additions to procedures they announced in April.
Previously, Southwest had promised that middle seats on all of their flights would remain empty, unless there is a family who wants to sit together, through July. Now, they have extended that date until “at least” the end of September.
Flyers will now have to sign a Customer Health Declaration, agreeing to wear a mask through the airport and on the flight and acknowledging they are free of virus symptoms.
Finally, they’re beefing up their enforcement of flyers wearing masks. Previously, our readers reported this was not enforced, but Southwest now says that they will deny boarding to anyone who is unwilling to wear a mask. They will provide masks to customers who don’t have them.
Here’s a look at the additional Southwest cleaning and physical distancing procedures now in place.
Want to stay up to date on all things Southwest? Subscribe for up-to-the-minute news.
Southwest Cleaning, Physical Distancing Procedures
Here’s what the airline is doing to help ensure healthy and safety:
1. Limited Passengers on Flights
Southwest will be limiting the number of passengers on each flight, and in this video they have said flights will be limited to 2/3 of full capacity.
2. Middle Seat Occupancy Unnecessary Except for Traveling Parties
While Southwest says they won’t prevent passengers from sitting in the middle seat, the limited number on board will not necessitate this seat being filled. Those who are traveling together and want to sit together can. Southwest will not direct you where to sit. This will continue through at least September 30.
3. First and Last 2 to 3 Rows Blocked
Southwest has said they will block the first two to three and last two to three rows of the aircraft so no one can sit there. All other seats will be open. Recent flyers have confirmed this change.
4. Boarding in Groups of 10
Boarding will now take place in groups of 10 with passengers appropriately physically distanced and only on one side of the boarding poles.
Airport signage and floor markers now encourage distancing.
Family boarding has not changed.
5. Plexiglass at All Counters
Southwest is installing Plexiglass at ticketing and boarding counters, as well as in luggage offices.
6. Limited Food or Drink Service on Board
While for a time they stopped all food and drink service, they have now returned limited food and drink service with cans of water with straws and snack mix available on flights greater than 250 miles.
Additionally, the expiration of free alcoholic drink coupons has been extended through December 31, 2020. More details…
7. Face Mask Required
Southwest requires customers to wear a face covering or face mask both on the plane and in the airport and will deny you boarding if you don’t comply. They advise that you bring your own, but will provide one if you forget.
Additionally, Southwest employees who work with customers will wear masks.
8. Sanitizing Wipes Available on Board
The airline will make sanitizing wipes, should you want to additionally wipe down your seat or tray table, on board.
9. New Aircraft Cleaning Procedures
New procedures include:
- Routine application of an electrostatic disinfectant and anti-microbial spray on every surface that kills viruses on contact
- Employees use Sani-Cide EX3, a broad-spectrum disinfectant, to clean commonly-used areas like tray tables, window shades, bathrooms, seat belts, etc. before every flight
- Deep clean of every plane nightly for six to seven hours with a four- to six-person crew
Aircraft already have High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which remove 99.97% of airborne particles similar to hospitals.
They are also cleaning gate areas, ticket counters and baggage claim areas multiple times daily.
Passenger Recommendations From Southwest
Southwest also advises those who will be traveling with them to do the following:
- Download a mobile boarding pass via the Southwest app to further reduce interactions and contact
- Bring your own hand sanitizer and mask
- Arrive to the airport earlier to allow time for new check-in, boarding and security procedures
- Maintain physical distancing
- Eat before you travel (I’d also advise getting a big bottle of water to take with you on the plane since there is no drink service!)
- Don’t travel if you are sick or have symptoms of the virus; you can always change a Southwest flight at no cost or cancel it, as well
Read the full text of Southwest’s changes and additions HERE.
What do you think of the new procedures? Will it help you feel more comfortable flying?
7 Ways to Earn Miles From Home
Enter your email to get a free PDF that shows you 7 easy things you can do to collect miles from HOME for FUTURE travel! You'll also be added to Go to Travel Gal's weekly email newsletter list.