DALLAS, Oct. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) is working with the Stanford University School of Medicine to review the carrier's multi-layered approach to supporting the well-being of Customers and Employees during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Southwest Promise encompasses the changes the airline has made to its around-the-clock operations, cleaning procedures, and physical-distancing measures, and representatives from Stanford Medicine will now offer medical advice and protocol recommendations to guide the airline's ongoing and future efforts during the pandemic.
As part of the collaboration, Southwest will have access to an advisory council comprised of Stanford Medicine's physician-scientists with knowledge and expertise in infectious diseases, prevention and testing protocols, and the latest medical research about COVID-19. This advisory council will provide insights to support Southwest's commitment to keeping Safety as an uncompromising priority.
"We look forward to working with Stanford Medicine as we continue utilizing a science-based approach to develop and bolster our operational policies and practices during the ongoing pandemic," said Gary Kelly, Southwest's Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. "This collaboration adds to our advisory partners and brings a team of physician-scientists into our ongoing discussions and will infuse the latest medical research and public health recommendations into our mission of supporting the well-being of our Customers and Employees."
"Stanford Medicine is advising organizations and companies like Southwest as they evaluate their practices during the ongoing pandemic," said Lloyd Minor, MD, Dean of the Stanford School of Medicine. "We look forward to providing our insights to the airline."
The Southwest Promise: A Multi-Layered Approach to Cleaning and Comfort
Stanford Medicine will serve as a trusted advisor, in addition to Southwest's current relationship with UT Southwestern Medical Center, to review elements of The Southwest Promise, which are implemented to create a comfortable travel experience and support the well-being of Employees and Customers. The commitment to cleaning and distancing measures encompasses the following elements:
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, Southwest will have face masks available at the airport and onboard its aircraft.
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.
At the Airports:
Airport Cleaning: Southwest is cleaning ticket counters, gates, kiosks, and baggage claim areas multiple times a day. Additionally, the airline is utilizing electrostatic sprayers to apply a disinfectant to airport areas at least once per week.
Physical Distancing in Airports: Southwest is 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 help everyone keep their distance during in-person transactions and interactions between Employees and Customers.
Hand Hygiene: Hand sanitizer is available at check-in kiosks, ticket counters, and gates.
Onboard Southwest Aircraft:
HEPA Filters: Every aircraft is equipped with a sophisticated air distribution system that introduces fresh, outdoor air and HEPA-filtered air into the cabin while inflight, resulting in an 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).
Middle Seats Open: Southwest has committed to keeping the equivalent of all middle seats open through Nov. 30 to allow room for physical distancing onboard every flight.
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 onboard lavatories and tray tables before every flight. Additionally, sanitizing wipes are available for Customers onboard, upon request.
In its 50th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service to a Customer base topping 130 million passengers in 2019. Southwest became the nation's largest domestic air carrier in 2003 and maintains that ranking based on the U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent reporting of domestic originating passengers boarded. In peak travel seasons during 2019, Southwest operated more than 4,000 weekday departures among a network of 101 destinations in the United States and 10 additional countries. In early 2020, the carrier added service to Hilo, Hawaii, and Cozumel, Mexico. Southwest will begin service to Palm Springs on and Miami on Nov. 15, as well as two new seasonal destinations in Colorado, Steamboat Springs and Montrose (Telluride) on Dec. 19, 2020.
The carrier issued its Southwest® Promise in May 2020 to highlight new and round-the-clock efforts to support its Customers and Employees wellbeing and comfort. Among the changes are enhanced cleaning efforts at airports and onboard aircraft, facemask requirements for Customers and Employees, and capping the number of passengers on every flight to allow middle seats to remain open through Nov. 30, 2020. Additional details about the Southwest Promise are available at Southwest.com/Promise.
Southwest coined Transfarency® to describe its purposed philosophy of treating Customers honestly and fairly, and low fares actually staying low. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply, some carriers offer free checked bags on select routes or in qualified circumstances). Southwest does not charge change fees, though fare differences might apply.
Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. Learn more about how the carrier gives back to communities across the world by visiting Southwest.com/citizenship.
Book Southwest Airlines' low fares online at Southwest.com or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.