Southwest Airlines today renewed its ongoing commitment to supporting the well-being and comfort of its Customers and Employees by announcing that the carrier will continue limiting the amount of seats sold on every flight to allow middle seats to remain open through Nov. 30, 2020. Additionally, as part of The Southwest Promise, the airline requires face masks to be worn at all times, has implemented physical distancing measures in airports and onboard aircraft, and maintains a stringent cleaning schedule of its facilities and aircraft throughout each day.
“As we transition into autumn and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday season, we want Southwest Customers to have the confidence of knowing that middle seats will remain open through Nov. 30 to accommodate their fall travel plans,” said Ryan Green, Southwest’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “Southwest has been operating flights with middle seats open throughout the summer and has added thousands of flights to in-demand destinations to provide extra seats for on-board physical distancing and added comfort.”
As always, Southwest Customers may choose their own seats. In Southwest’s open seating environment, families, or those traveling together, may still sit together and occupy a middle seat for their convenience. Previously, middle seats were open through Oct. 31, 2020.
The Southwest Promise: A Multi-Layered Approach to Cleaning and Comfort
In addition to keeping middle seats open this fall, Southwest continues supporting the comfort and well-being of Customers and Employees by executing a multi-layered approach to cleaning and physical distancing.
Prior to Travel:
Face Coverings Required: All Southwest Customers and Employees over the age of two are required to wear a covering over their mouth and nose throughout the travel journey. If a Customer does not have a face covering, the Southwest Team will have face masks available at the airport and onboard our aircraft to ensure compliance with the policy.
Customer Health Declaration: Customers are required to acknowledge an awareness of the carrier’s face covering policy and confirm they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been diagnosed with, or exposed to, COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to travel. They also are required to confirm they do not have a fever when they travel. The declaration appears during the online check-in process via the Southwest app, Southwest.com, the carrier’s mobile website, SWABIZ.com, and airport kiosks.
In the Airports:
Airport Cleaning: Southwest is cleaning ticket counters, gates, kiosks, and baggage claim areas multiple times per day. Additionally, the airline is utilizing electrostatic sprayers to apply a disinfectant to Southwest’s airport areas at least once per week.
Physical Distancing in Airports: Southwest is now boarding in smaller groups of 10 to allow for distancing and queuing only on one side of boarding poles in the gate areas. Additionally, new airport signage and floor markers highlight and encourage proper distances throughout the boarding areas. Southwest also has installed Plexiglas® at ticketing and gate counters and baggage service offices to provide more protection during in-person transactions and interactions between Employees and Customers.
Don’t Forget Your Hands: Hand sanitizer is available at check-in kiosks, ticket counters, and gates.
Onboard our Aircraft:
HEPA Filters: Every aircraft is equipped with a sophisticated air recirculation system that introduces fresh outside air into the cabin while inflight, resulting in a complete exchange of cabin air every two to three minutes. Southwest uses HEPA filters onboard that remove 99.97% of airborne particles*—similar to the technology found in hospitals (*measuring 0.3 micrometers or greater in diameter passing through the filter).
Enhanced Overnight Aircraft Cleaning: Southwest deep cleans each plane from nose to tail for nearly six to seven labor hours every night, including all high-touch surfaces such as seat belt buckles, tray tables, air vents, arm rests, galleys, and lavatories.
Electrostatic Aircraft Spraying: Both an electrostatic disinfectant and an anti-microbial spray are applied on every surface of the aircraft, killing viruses on contact and, then, forming an anti-microbial coating, or shield, for 30 days.
Cleaning Before Every Flight: Sani-Cide EX3, a broad-spectrum disinfectant, is used to clean all onboard lavatories and every tray table before every flight. Additionally, cleaning wipes are available for Customers onboard, upon request.