Southwest deems armrests as low-touch areas

Image from Wikimedia, Ken Lund

Southwest Airlines (LUV) is retiring its extra aircraft cleaning procedures previously enacted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The between-flight cleaning for Southwest Airlines (LUV) aircraft will now focus on high-touch areas like bathrooms and tray tables, says an internal memo obtained by USA Today. Armrests and seat belts, however, will no longer be considered as areas of viral hazard under the new policy.

The changes have been implemented due to increasing flight schedules as the company claims to be returning to its standard turnaround times. The rest of the areas will remain untouched between flights and will only be disinfected overnight during cleaning procedures.

On May 3, 2020, Southwest Airlines (LUV) released a statement introducing the new “extra cleaning steps to ensure customer safety.” The press release mentions such institutions as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as exemplars for hygienic guidance.

However, the CDC has not updated their Interim Guidance for Airlines and Airline Crew act since March 4, 2020, while WHO’s standards remain the same since 2009.

The news comes as the airline suffered continuous losses throughout the year and is slowly trying to ramp-up operations with additional capacity. In its latest financial update, the low-cost carrier announced a net loss of more than $900 million in Q2 2020.


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