According to Bloomberg, Southwest Airlines has scaled back its aircraft-cleaning procedures between flights to prevent reduced staffing and busier operations from keeping aircraft on the ground longer than scheduled.
The airline has shifted its focus to high-touch areas like lavatories and tray tables. With the new policy, arm rests and seat belts will not be wiped down between each flight.
Despite the change in cleaning procedures, each plane undergoes a “deep” electrostatic cleaning once a month. That process kills bacteria on contact for 30 days, according to Southwest. Beginning in March, Southwest planes have been cleaned each from nose to tail for nearly 6-7 hours every night.
In addition to this, wipes will be available for travelers on board who want to disinfect their personal space.
The change comes from the airline wanting to return to normal turnaround times in between flights. According to One Mile At a Time, Southwest’s flight schedule is “evolving.”
The modified cleaning procedures have been tested in the airlines headquarters at Dallas Love Field. The new modified cleaning practices begun on August 1, for the entire airline.
The shift in cleaning protocol comes at such strange time, considering most businesses and other airlines have increased their cleaning and safety protocols, as well as social distancing practices. Is saving time really worth the risk? Only time will tell.