Southwest Airlines is taking measures to continue to limit interactions and potential for virus transmission aboard its flights. For now, starting on March 25th, Southwest is suspending all inflight service.
Inflight service suspension onboard Southwest
Starting on March 25th, Southwest announced that it will end all inflight service. This includes the suspension of beverage and snack services. The reason for this is the COVID-19 outbreak. Through these measures, Southwest will be able to limit the number of interactions with flight attendants and passengers thereby reducing opportunities for transmission.
However, customers will still be able to request canned water. But, snacks are on a bring-your-own basis.
Previously, Southwest had ended inflight service on flights shorter than 250 miles. Meanwhile, on the rest of its operations, onboard service was reduced to cans of water and snacks. A number of other airlines are cutting or reducing inflight service amid the pandemic.
Southwest braces for impact
COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on airlines. From rapidly declining demand to increased travel restrictions, airlines are having trouble finding places to fly all of their planes. Southwest was not immune from this either.
For the next few weeks, the airline is cutting about 1,500 of its nearly 4,000 daily flights– an increase of nearly 500 daily flights compared to previous announcements. This also includes a suspension of all international operations. As the situation continues to change, however, expect further changes from Southwest. From April 14th through June 5th, the carrier is cutting capacity by about 20 percent.
Upgrading cleaning procedures onboard
Every night, Southwest is putting its aircraft through a major cleaning protocol. This includes expanded use of EPA-approved, hospital-grade disinfectants across the passenger areas, flight deck, and lavatories.
At every seat, Southwest is making sure to disinfect seat buckles, overhead panels that contain reading lights and vents, seat surfaces, tray tables, armrests and more.
In the flight deck, disinfectants are being used on microphones and yokes.
As for the air in the cabin, like many other modern jets, the 737s are equipped with HEPA filters. These help eliminate some of the smallest particles in the air.
Passengers are welcome to bring their own hand sanitizer and wipes. However, Southwest is asking passengers to stay away from bringing aerosols or pump spray cleaners. In addition, they should avoid using items that contain bleach since these can cause damage to surfaces in the cabin.
The COVID-19 outbreak is taking its toll on aviation. At Southwest, the carrier is making significant strides to keep its aircraft clean and minimize transmission possibilities. As a result, Southwest is temporarily suspending inflight service on all flights. However, passengers can still bring their own snacks and also request a cup of canned water from the flight attendant.
What do you make of Southwest’s suspension of inflight service? Let us know in the comments!