Southwest Airlines is putting its social distancing protocols and cleaning practices into hyper-gear with its announced plans this week to keep middle seats open through September, at a minimum, and reinforce its face mask policy. It then added another layer of confidence for travelers by requiring passengers to complete a Health Declaration sheet prior to traveling.
The airline company hopes to get people flying again through a battery of smart safety practices as well as smart and attractive fares. The airline launched a sale this week for alluringly low domestic fares starting at $49 one-way to select destinations today through June 18, 2020, 11:59 p.m., CDT.
Examples of Southwest Airlines’ low fares:
•As low as $49 one-way nonstop between St. Louis and Nashville
•As low as $49 one-way nonstop between Chicago (MDW) and Minneapolis
•As low as $79 one-way nonstop between Oakland and Seattle
•As low as $99 one-way nonstop between Denver and Phoenix, and
•As low as $109 one-way nonstop between Houston (HOU) and Baltimore
Both the number of seats and days of week of these fares are limited. And passengers can be assured of comfortable spaces with safe seating. Customers may still pick their own seat, and Southwest will not block or direct seating. In the open seating environment, families or those traveling together may sit together.
The Southwest Promise outlines policies and protocols designed to further the comfort of Customers and Employees throughout their travel journeys. The carrier has bolstered communication of its round-the-clock cleaning efforts and distancing protocols through new videos that overview the travel journey of Southwest Customers through airports and onboard.
The Southwest Promise now requires signing a Customer Health Declaration form during online check-in, which acknowledges an awareness of the carrier’s face-covering policy and confirms an absence of symptoms from COVID-19. Passengers must assure the airline they have not been diagnosed with, or exposed, to COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to travel. They will also have to confirm they do not have a fever when they travel. The declaration will appear during the online check-in process via the Southwest app, Southwest.com, SWABIZ.com, and the carrier’s mobile website.
“As part of this commitment, Southwest is performing enhanced cleanings and giving special attention to our airport locations and aircraft. Now, we ask that our customers join us in these efforts by acknowledging their personal wellness prior to flying with us,” said Tony Roach, Managing Director, Southwest Customer Experience.
In addition to the Customer Health Declaration, Customers will notice these Southwest Promise highlights the next time they fly:
•Boarding in groups of 10 to allow for distancing and queuing only on one side of boarding poles
•Airport signage and floor markers encouraging distance throughout gate areas
•Plexiglas® at ticketing and gate counters, and baggage service offices
•If Customers forget a face covering, a mask will be provided
•Hand sanitizer will be available in airport locations
To Mask or Not to Mask
In May, Southwest began requiring Customers and Employees to wear face coverings or masks while in airports and onboard Southwest aircraft. During this pandemic, the airline asks that individuals comply with the policy out of respect for the well-being and comfort of fellow travelers and those serving Southwest Customers. As part of this ongoing policy, Southwest will deny boarding to any Customer choosing not to wear a face covering or mask while traveling. Southwest’s Ground Operations Team and Flight Attendants will make announcements to remind Customers of this requirement throughout the travel journey and will have masks available, upon Customer request.
Additionally, the carrier is notifying Customers of the policy in advance of travel dates and requiring acknowledgement of the policy via the new Customer Health Declaration Form.
Southwest coined Transfarency® to describe its purposed philosophy of treating Customers honestly and fairly, and keeping low fares staying low. It is the only major U.S. airline to offer a bags fly free® policy (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply, some carriers offer free checked bags on select routes or in qualified circumstances), and there are no change fees, though fare differences might apply.