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Southwest Airlines today announced a new pledge to its employees and customers, which assures that safety is, and will remain, the carrier's number-one priority, from passenger check-in to deplaning.
The new Southwest Promise encompasses pandemic-prompted enhanced, frequent cleaning protocols across its fleet; physical social-distancing measures and contact-free interaction; and personal protective gear issued to employees for their protection.
-Beginning May 3, Southwest will require all customer-facing employees to wear masks or facial coverings.
-Starting May 11, Southwest will require customers to wear face masks or coverings and will issue masks to passengers who forget to bring their own. Customers are being encouraged to bring their own facial coverings, as well as hand sanitizer, while traveling.
-Customers who are feeling ill or have COVID-19-type symptoms should cancel or change their trip, utilizing Southwest's current flexible policies, and remain at home.
-In Airports: Southwest-leased spaces in airports, such as gates, ticket counters and baggage-claim areas, are being cleaned multiple times per day.
-At Every Seat: Sanitizing wipes, which contain a proven-safe and effective solution, will be available onboard upon request for customers without their own.
-Between Flights: Additional cleaning procedures between flights will help ensure that onboard spaces are cleansed before the next group boards.
-Overnight: Teams will continue working nightly to sanitize planes' interior surfaces from nose-to-tail, paying special attention to high-frequently touchpoints, using broad-spectrum disinfectants and multi-purpose products.
-In Hangars: In April, Southwest instituted the use of an electrostatic disinfectant and anti-microbial spray, which is applied on every interior aircraft surface, killing viruses on contact and forming a 30-day protective shield.
-In the Air: Southwest continues to use HEPA filters (which remove 99.97 percent of airborne particles, just like in a hospital setting) to purify recirculated cabin air while also introducing fresh air into cabins at regular intervals.
Our top priority has and always will be the Safety of our Employees & Customers. Today, we add the Southwest Promise to a nearly 50-year commitment to Hospitality and an unwavering focus on Safety. #SouthwestHeartStrongRead about the Southwest Promise: https://t.co/mE2bOftpAopic.twitter.com/SXtuxP0Ob7- Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) May 1, 2020
Our top priority has and always will be the Safety of our Employees & Customers. Today, we add the Southwest Promise to a nearly 50-year commitment to Hospitality and an unwavering focus on Safety. #SouthwestHeartStrongRead about the Southwest Promise: https://t.co/mE2bOftpAopic.twitter.com/SXtuxP0Ob7
-Limited Passengers: Beginning May 2, the total number of passengers allowed on flights will be temporarily reduced. While customers may still choose their own seats, this should allow folks to spread out at comfortable distances within the cabin.
-Modified Boarding: Beginning May 2, groups of just ten people at a time will board the aircraft sequentially by boarding position. During deplaning, flight attendants will step in to ensure social distancing is also maintained.
-No Snacks: In-flight beverage and snack service remains discontinued, although customers are welcome to bring their own snacks and non-alcoholic drinks aboard.
-Physical barriers: Ticket counters and gate podiums are being fitted with Plexiglas shields, and airport signage and floor markers will be posted shortly to outline proper social distancing in gate areas.
-Boarding Passes: Customers are being instructed to download a mobile boarding pass via the Southwest app prior to arrival at the airport to limit touchpoints.
"We feel extreme gratitude for those who are serving on the frontlines of this pandemic. And from our own frontlines to our back offices, we share an immense pride in the service we're providing to Southwest Customers for whom travel is essential right now," Gary Kelly, Southwest Chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
"Our sense of responsibility cannot be understated. In the future, we are committed to reconnecting our Customers to people and places they love. So, as we warmly await their return, we add the Southwest Promise to a nearly 50-year commitment of unmatched Hospitality and an unwavering focus on Safety," Kelly concluded.
Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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