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New Southwest Cleaning Protocols: Disinfect Tray Tables, But Tidy Cabins

New Southwest Cleaning Protocols: Disinfect Tray Tables, But Tidy Cabins
Joe Cortez

As Southwest Airlines moves to resume flying more routes during the COVID-19 pandemic, their cleaning protocols will change. Effective Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, the airline will only disinfect tray tables, while moving back to their normal cleaning and tidying process outlined in employee manuals.

Southwest Airlines is asking flight crews and ramp agents to turn aircraft faster, as the carrier begins to ramp up their schedule and turn aircraft faster. In a memo obtained by FlyerTalk and verified by USA Today, the airline will only have one ramp agent disinfecting tray tables only to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Cleaning Procedure Cleans Tray Tables, While “Tidying” Cabins for Next Flight

Under the orders given by Southwest senior director of base operations Mike Sims, the new cleaning policy was developed after gathering feedback from both employees and customers. After experimenting with five different procedures at Dallas Love Airport (DAL), the airline came up with the new cleaning process.

“The decision was made to focus on a few items – our tray tables and lavatories,” the memo from Sims reads. “These were the most important areas for us to clean in between each flight as they are prone to contamination from customer use and food/beverage consumption.”

Upon arrival, a ramp agent will board the aircraft, and allow all passengers to disembark. Once complete, the ground team member will go through the aircraft and disinfect all of the tray tables, including the top, bottom, and latch. They will not clean seats or armrests, where passengers were sitting or touching during the flight.

Ramp agents will also be responsible for cleaning lavatories during each stop, unless they land at a provisioning station. At those airports, the provisioning agent will clean the lavatories.

Meanwhile, the flight attendants will go through the cabin and “tidy the aircraft,” including crossing seatbelts and picking up any remaining trash. They will not be responsible for cleaning or disinfecting any other surfaces.

Although the carrier is focused on turning flights faster, the airline said in their memo that they will continue some of their COVID-19 protocols. The carrier will continue “enhanced cleaning” every night, while completing an electrostatic “deep cleaning” every 30 days.

Southwest Continues to Block Middle Seats and Offer Sanitizing Wipes

While the airline is changing how they clean aircraft, it doesn’t mean that they are completely abandoning all safety measures. The airline previously announced they would continue to block middle seats through October 2020, and offer sanitizing wipes to flyers upon requests to clean air surfaces.

“As always, Southwest will monitor Customer and Employee feedback as we adapt to the new normal in air travel,” airline spokesperson Ro Hawthorne told USA Today. “While ensuring we keep safety as our top priority.”

Cleaning is just one problem the airline is facing with passengers. Starting this month, the airline will also ask flyers to not consume alcohol they have brought on board, in lieu of traditional cabin services.

View Comments (12)

12 Comments

  1. rylan

    August 5, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Boy that sure didn’t take long for airlines to start rolling back the enhanced cleaning protocols… so basically the only thing that will be clean on the plane will be the tray table. Should pax bring saran wrap to cover their seat and armrests?

  2. El Puerco Volante

    August 6, 2020 at 1:43 am

    This is THE BEST! That country is in the middle of the huge pandemic, 70k per day get the virus and Southwest says that they cleaned enough. But then why not? Their demographic will eat this and more. So well done Southwest, keep squeezing every list dime of your pax while they are still alive

  3. El Puerco Volante

    August 6, 2020 at 1:44 am

    And don’t forget to add another dancing or rapping FA. Clearly your customers value that more then disinfection

  4. DEN

    August 6, 2020 at 3:43 am

    “ the new cleaning policy was developed after gathering feedback from both employees and customers”. I’d love to see the actual questions and answers to this poll. Basically they are using turnaround time as the excuse to not fully sanitize each aircraft and asking passengers to use a alcohol wipe to complete the process. Will they inform a each passenger to clean the extra surfaces as they board? This is not the time to reduce aircraft sanitation while the US is still getting a grip on the pandemic. They are just begging for the government to step in and mandate cleaning processes.

  5. Tongie1

    August 6, 2020 at 4:48 am

    So disappointed in Southwest Airlines. No longer will I encourage to fly Southwest. I always told friends and family, Southwest was for their customers/passengers. Pax may take longer to board if they have to clean or Saran Wrap their seats before sitting. No efficiency or staying on time there.

  6. kc1174

    August 6, 2020 at 5:40 am

    “New Southwest Cleaning Protocols: Disinfect Tray Tables, But Tidy Cabins”.
    Later on: tray tables and lavatories.
    Don’t let a good headline get in the way of reality.

  7. DenverDean

    August 6, 2020 at 5:55 am

    While this makes sense to a degree, the only thing I have to touch on my flight is the seat belt…..

  8. 96SS

    August 6, 2020 at 8:52 am

    That would be an additional virus cleaning fee. WCBC, want clean, buy clean.

  9. jjonathan

    August 6, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    The only thing for the individual to protect him or her self is to STOP flying these careless airlines…..
    The airlines are not our personal friends

  10. KRSW

    August 7, 2020 at 8:31 am

    Southwest: Name me one passenger who said, “please don’t clean the armrests!” I have a feeling it’s going to be a very short…blank…list.

  11. DEN

    August 8, 2020 at 10:23 am

    Yet another reason Southwest remains on my “No Fly” list

  12. kkua

    August 9, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    Guess they don’’t want to share the top spot of having the cleanest germ-free fleet anymore. Now only if DL can extend their empty middle seat to the end of the year….

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