Southwest Airlines is reducing its cleaning protocols as the number of flights begin to increase amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Starting August 1, the airline will focus on cleaning high-touch surfaces between flights, according to a memo to flight attendants obtained by USA Today. That includes lavatories and tray tables, which are disinfected before every flight. "These are the most important areas to clean between each flight as they are prone to contamination from customer use and food/beverage consumption," the memo reads.
So, what won't be sanitized before every take off? Per the memo, seatbelts and armrests won't be cleaned between each flight. However, they will continue to be sanitized as part of Southwest's enhanced overnight cleaning, which takes about six to seven hours. Passengers can also request sanitizing wipes to wipe down surfaces onboard.
Another cleaning procedure Southwest has introduced amid the pandemic is applying an electrostatic disinfectant and an anti-microbial spray on every surface of the aircraft at least once a month, a Southwest spokesperson told House Beautiful in statement. The disinfectant and spray " [kill] viruses on contact and [form] an anti-microbial coating, or shield, for 30 days." In addition, each aircraft features HEPA Air Filtration, which helps introduce fresh air into the cabin during flights.
"As always, Southwest will monitor customer and employee feedback as we adapt to the new normal in air travel, while ensuring we keep safety as our top priority," the spokesperson said.
To help implement physical distancing aboard its aircrafts, Southwest plans to block middle seats until at least October 31.
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