In order to return to standard turnaround time, the airline is cutting out some things.
To reduce the time aircraft spend on the ground between flights, Southwest Airlines told flight attendants in a memo that it would cut back in its passenger cabin cleaning procedures. The procedures were first instituted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Deep overnight cleanings will still be conducted.
The Dallas-based airline explained that it will no longer sanitize seat belts between flights; instead, the cleaning procedure between each flight will “focus on a few items—tray tables and lavatories.” Customers who wish to disinfect their space on the airplane before sitting down can request sanitizing wipes.
Southwest spokeswoman Ro Hawthorne explained that due to the increase in flight schedules, crews will conduct a more thorough cleaning once a day. Only the most important areas— those prone to contamination from customer use and food and beverage consumption— will undergo frequent cleaning in-between flights.
“Since flight schedules have increased, other areas of the aircraft will be disinfected during our overnight cleaning process, when Southwest Teams spend six to seven hours per aircraft cleaning all interior surfaces,” Hawthorne said in a statement.
The company originally rolled out its enhanced cleaning program that included the sanitation of “interior windows and shades, every seat belt buckle, passenger service units (including the touch buttons that control reading lights and vents that direct personal air), as well as seat surfaces, tray tables, [and] armrests.”
The new reduction in COVID-focused cleaning protocol will go into effect this month.
Southwest Airlines utilizes an electrostatic spraying process that applies a disinfectant and spray to form an anti-microbial coating. The coating, when sprayed onto a surface, kills viruses on contact for 30 days. Southwest Teams spend six to seven hours per aircraft cleaning the cabin interior.