INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Planning to travel soon, but worried about the coronavirus?
Southwest Airlines is working to ease your concerns as the company has announced "enhanced" cleaning procedures with every flight.
"Typically, we use an EPA approved, hospital-grade disinfectant in the lavatories and an interior cleaner in the cabin," the company said in a letter issued to Southwest travelers Monday morning. "Now, we are expanding the use of the hospital-grade disinfectant throughout the aircraft, and it will be used in the cabin, on elements in the flight deck and in the lavatory."
Southwest said these procedures go "beyond the standard CDC guidelines."
Southwest's blog breaks down their cleaning strategies on each flight with a focus on "high-touch areas" like interior windows, shades, seat belt buckles touch buttons, seat surfaces, tray tables and armrests.
The company also released a video showcasing their cleaning efforts:
Read the full letter from Southwest’s Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Green below:
There is no higher priority to our entire Southwest Family than the Safety of our Customers and Employees. We are in close communication with medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), government agencies, and internal teams to stay on top of this evolving situation. According to the most recent information from the CDC, for most people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low.
We want you to feel confident when traveling with Southwest Airlines. As a result, we have enhanced some of our cleaning procedures in the interest of our Customers' and Employees' health and safety.
Aircraft Cleaning: We spend between 6-7 hours cleaning each aircraft every night, and, as of March 4, 2020, we have enhanced our overnight cleaning procedures. Typically, we use an EPA approved, hospital-grade disinfectant in the lavatories and an interior cleaner in the cabin. Now, we are expanding the use of the hospital-grade disinfectant throughout the aircraft, and it will be used in the cabin, on elements in the flight deck, and in the lavatory. This goes beyond the standard CDC guidelines.
Also, we equip each of our aircraft with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, which filters out recirculated air onboard each plane to remove airborne particles. HEPA filters are also used in hospitals to provide patients with clean air.
To learn more about our enhanced aircraft cleaning procedures, visit our blog for a detailed overview, along with a video and photos of the process.
In addition, I want to take a moment to remind Customers of our flexible policies. These policies have always been in place at Southwest Airlines and provide our Customers peace of mind every day. We never charge Customers a fee to change or cancel (though fare differences might apply) their flights. If your plans change or if you decide to postpone your travel, the funds used to pay for your flight can be applied to future travel as long as you cancel your reservation at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. The funds are valid for future travel up to one year from the original purchase date and must be used by the individual named on the ticket. Hopefully, these policies provide comfort to all of our Customers that they can book travel on Southwest as normal, and, if the circumstances change in the future, they can alter their plans without the penalty of a fee.
Rest assured, we are monitoring this developing situation closely, staying in regular contact with federal agencies, health organizations, and other experts. We've developed a host of resources to keep you informed and updated along the way, including our Travel Advisory on southwest.com and our Company blog, and we'll continue to post updates as this situation evolves.
Thank you for your patience and trust in Southwest Airlines. We are prepared to navigate through these challenging circumstances with your safety and confidence in Southwest Airlines at the forefront of everything we do.
We look forward to seeing you onboard soon.