Southwest Airlines no longer sanitizing armrests and seatbelts between flights, memo says

Focus will be disinfecting of high-touch areas like tray tables, lavatories

FILE - In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020, file photo, Southwest airlines employee Oscar Gonzalez, right, assists a passenger at the ticket counter at Love Field in Dallas. In a report, Thursday, July 2, 2020, the government is recommending that travelers wear face coverings during air travel and says airlines should consider limiting capacity on planes to promote social distancing. But it stopped short of making new requirements. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File) (Tony Gutierrez, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Southwest Airlines is changing up its sanitization practices in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

An internal memo obtained by USA Today states that flight crews are to focus cleaning efforts on high-touch areas like tray tables and lavatories before takeoff and that armrests and seat belts will no longer be wiped down between flights.

USA Today reports that the memo specifically says the tray tables and lavatories “are the most important areas to clean between each flight as they are prone to contamination from customer use and food/beverage consumption.”

Southwest spokeswoman Ro Hawthorne said Southwest aircraft will be “disinfected during our overnight cleaning process, when Southwest Teams spend six to seven hours per aircraft cleaning all interior surfaces,” according to CNN.

Disinfecting wipes will be available for customers onboard Southwest airplanes.

The company made headlines back in May when another internal memo stated that customers would not be denied permission to board planes if they refused to wear a mask. That policy has since been reversed and face coverings are now required, according to

To view the full Southwest Airlines policy for enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures, click here.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.