Michael Wood, Manager, Education & Workforce
Nearly every industry has experienced unprecedented disruptions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the airline industry. Since early March, both business and personal travel have ground to a near complete halt.
Southwest Airlines, headquartered in Dallas, is one of the many airlines impacted, but the company is hard at work adjusting practices and ensuring the safety and peace of mind for its customers.
The biggest change has been in cleaning standards. In addition to its usual nightly cleaning procedures, Southwest recently implemented a new state-of-the-art cleaning technology using electrostatic sprayers. The spray essentially coats aircraft interiors with a “primer” of disinfectant and antimicrobials that stick particularly well to curved and cornered surfaces. The process is also utilized by hospitals and meets strict EPA standards.
On May 1, Southwest reinforced its commitment to keeping its customers safe through the launch of The Southwest® Promise. The Promise introduces additional safety measures for the airline’s employees and customers. For additional details, visit southwest.com/promise.
Another change the carrier made early on in the pandemic was reducing customer touch points, which included suspending snack and beverage service inflight. This small change resulted in a surplus of snacks and other inflight provisioning items. Southwest found an innovative way to give back by donating nearly 13 tractor-trailers full of product to 15 food banks that are a part of the Feeding America network, which included the North Texas Food Bank. These food banks distributed the donation to food pantries, homeless shelters, senior centers, and children’s feeding programs.
Southwest is also repurposing an existing grant program, the Medical Transportation Grant Program, to serve essential workers combatting the pandemic. The program traditionally provides complimentary roundtrip flights to nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations to offer assistance to patients and their families who need specialized or life-saving treatments but may struggle to cover travel costs. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Southwest has extended flexibility to the grant program’s partners to allow them to offer complimentary flights for health care workers, as many medical institutions have leaned on staff from other states and cities throughout the crisis.
“Our sense of responsibility cannot be understated,” said Juan Suarez, Southwest Managing Director, Deputy General Counsel, and Dallas Regional Chamber Board Member. “With our recent changes, including the addition of the Southwest Promise, we stand ready to welcome back travelers and connect them to the people and places that are important in their lives.”
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