Southwest Airlines Finds Ways to Support Customers and Communities in the Pandemic

From new cleaning technology to nonprofit support to flights for healthcare workers, the airline is working for the safety and peace of mind of its customers—and the greater good.

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.


Supporting the greater good in the COVID-19 crisis

Southwest also is committed to supporting the greater good amid the COVID-19 crisis through its Rapid Rewards program. Between now and May 31, Southwest is offering Rapid Rewards points for customers who donate to one of three nonprofit organizations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic: American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, and Feeding America. Customers who donate at least $25 to one or more of these charities will receive ten Rapid Rewards bonus points for every dollar donation for account holders, up to a maximum of 10,000 points. Contributions should be made directly through Southwest’s donation page.

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.

Video screenshot: Southwest Airlines

“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.”

The Dallas Regional Chamber is a partner organization of Dallas Innovates. DI is a collaboration of D Magazine Partners and the Dallas Regional Chamber.

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Michael Wood currently serves as Manager of Education & Workforce for the Dallas Regional Chamber. In this role, Michael leads the DRC’s early childhood education efforts, promotes collaboration(...)