LONDON – Southwest Airlines (WN) has announced it will keep its middle seats empty for the Fall until November 30 this year.
This is part of what WN considers The Southwest Promise, including measures such as face masks being required at all times and physical distancing measures being implemented.
Comments from Southwest
Commenting on the news was Ryan Green, Southwest’s Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer, who expressed confidence to consumers.
“As we transition into autumn and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday season, we want Southwest Customers to have the confidence of knowing that middle seats will remain open through Nov. 30 to accommodate their fall travel plans.”
“Southwest has been operating flights with middle seats open throughout the summer and has added thousands of flights to in-demand destinations to provide extra seats for on-board physical distancing and added comfort.”
The Southwest Promise
The Southwest Promise looks at 10 different areas in order to make everyone safe.
- Electrostatic spraying to kill viruses on contact.
- Broad-spectrum disinfectant placed on common touchpoints between each flight.
- Manual deep cleaning of the aircraft.
- Manual cleaning at the airport – including service counters and kiosks.
- Hand sanitizer made freely available.
- HEPA air filters onboard aircraft.
- Leaving center seats open which will create more space for physical distancing.
- Plexiglas installed at ticketing and gate counters.
- Customer and employee requirement of wearing masks.
- Boarding the aircraft in groups of 10 people.
Consumer Confidence Needed for Restoration
Airlines like Southwest and others have been placing all of these protections in place to restore demand for air travel. However, as the IATA Chief Doctor has said, the industry cannot afford to wait for a vaccine.
It does produce the view that whilst all of these protections that have been put in place are a good thing for the industry, it may not be enough. The argument could be that when a vaccine is developed and distributed globally and everyone takes it, it may produce further confidence than what there may already be.
In due time, all we have to do is wait for when the vaccine is finally produced and the potential spike in demand that will come with it.
Featured Image: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons