DALLAS, Sept. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) 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.
Southwest continues relying upon a data-driven, science-based approach to develop and evaluate operational policies and practices and reviews the latest research and recommendations from both internal and third-party experts. We invite you to learn more about our efforts at www.southwest.com/promise.
ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.
In its 50th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 60,000 Employees 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 103 destinations in the United States and 10 additional countries. Southwest will begin service to Steamboat Springs, Colo. on Dec. 19, 2020, and also recently announced intention to serve Palm Springs, Calif. and Miami, Fla.
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.
SOURCE Southwest Airlines Co.