Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

SergioK
New Arrival

My first experience flying SWA after more than a year was not good, but I decided to give it another try. My second experience was worse!! Gone are the boarding in groups of 10 to avoid crowding, gone is standing 6 ft away, gone is any suggestion of waiting to deplane until rows in front of you have cleared.

In fact SWA gate staff seemed to cherish the crowding and pushing at the gate by asking people to find their relative position within the groups of 30, ".... as we have always done..." in the immortal words of the SWA gate agent. Really? We are back to before pandemic, business as usual?

And of course wearing of face masks is kinda relaxed during deplaning. All other threatening words to the contrary, flight attendants do not enforce the masks especially with the chaos of everyone crowding in the aisle for deplaning.

I cancelled my return flights on SWA, will take another airline that takes my health more seriously. I would really appreciate SWA refunding my tickets if they cannot meet CDC guidelines as I expected based on my first flight only 3 weeks ago.

10 REPLIES 10

Re: SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

funwhite
New Arrival

SW is primarily a domestic airline.  The US is awash in three different vaccines.  You can take your pick, unlike other countries like Germany that are in a third total lockdown after rising cases and few vaccines available.  In the US every week will be better than the last.  So it is time to have some common sense and start relaxing the CV protocols that were overdone to start with.  

Re: SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

NicoleAshley
Employee
Employee

@SergioK We're sincerely sorry for letting you down with your travel experience, especially if you saw inconsistencies with our policies being enforced. As a peer-to-peer support forum, we are not equipped to assist you here, but we encourage you to Contact Customer Relations for assistance.

 

Thank you,

 

Nicole
Community Manager

Re: SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

SergioK
New Arrival

Thank you Nicole. Very kind of you to read my note and respond in such a useful way. I did send my comments to SWA customer service. I wish SWA would maintain the health and safety qualities that made me choose the airline in the first place.

Re: SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

SergioK
New Arrival

Dear Nicole Ashley, I followed your suggestion and contacted SWA customer service. Might as well have saved the effort. I got a form letter (a flea letter) from a Mr. Jonathan at SWA customer service. He went on to explain that SWA always had a policy of allowing a free change of flights, that SWA presumably is aware of the latest CDC and WHO recommendations regarding COVID prevention, and how they will not refund my money essentially because they can. 

 

Mr. Jonathan missed the point that CDC and WHO guidelines include maintaining social distance, avoiding crowds, and washing or disinfecting hands. SWA changed boarding policy to business as usual (before COVID) of boarding in groups of 30 guarantees a crowded gate area and aisle, and passengers pushing and shoving for their place in line. I was actually prevented from boarding the flight to Chicago even though I had boarding A31, and the A1-30 group had already boarded. The bullying gate agent wanted me to line up. Silly!

 

United Airlines asks passengers to remain seated until the rows ahead of them had deplaned. That means no shoving and no crowding. Why can't SWA do the same? I guess that every second of delay means less revenue. SWA's interest is rushing the planes back and not keeping passengers safe and healthy.

 

What a shame!

Re: SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

dfwskier
Top Contributor
Solution

I think you should write SW's CEO a letter.

 

In the letter I would say

 

1) You bought your ticket relying on SW's promise to board in groups of 10 and to maintain social distancing in the boarding process.

 

2) AFTER you bought your ticket, SW changed back to it's pre COVID boarding process, but made no announcement about it.

 

3) You don't feel comfortable with that boarding process, and feel that it puts you at risk. You would not have bought the ticket if you had known that the airline was going to change the boarding process.

 

4) Since SW changed the rules AFTER you bought your ticket, you believe that SW broke it's  promise to you, and as such, SW should provide a refund.

 

Gary Kelly

CEO

Southwest Airlines

P.O. Box 36647
Dallas, Texas 75235

Re: SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

SergioK
New Arrival

Thank you once more. You provide good advice. I will follow it.

 

Cheers!

Re: SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

dfwskier
Top Contributor

Apparently Southwest returned to the pre COVID boarding process about a week ago.

I did not see an announcement about that.

 

given that you were relying on rules that were in place before last Monday, and the rules changed , you could try to contact customer relations to ask for a refund. I don’t know what will happen.

 

https://community.southwest.com/t5/Knowledge-Base/Contact-Customer-Relations/ta-p/108355

 

Since there is a federal mask mandate, it is unlikely that mask-rules will change until the mandate does.

Re: SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

SergioK
New Arrival

Thank you wiskler for your kind and clear advice!

I did contact SWA Customer Service and explained precisely that the boarding protocol changed, and that SWA had gone to business as usual regarding COVID. I received an answer that reads more like a "flea letter": some generic explanation of SWA kindness of allowing change of flights without charge, and some nonsense about SWA following CDC and WHO guidelines. They also refused to give me a refund.

 

Of course maintaining social distance and avoiding crowds are part and parcel of CDC and WHO's advice. SWA ensures that people will not maintain distance, that they will push each other getting on and off the planes, and otherwise ignores the CDC guidelines. 

 

Holding on to my money is very important to SWA. Rushing the boarding and deplaning process by shoving people into confined spaces at the gate and in the aisle is also important to SWA. My health concerns are not. 

 

Something as simple as boarding in groups of 10, or asking passengers to wait in their seats and not crowd the aisle until the rows ahead of them have cleared are not in SWA's (money) interest. Now that I now that I will avoid SWA. When I last bought my ticket I thought SWA was a reasonable airline. They are not.

Re: SWA relaxing COVID19 protocols. Will masks be next to go?

jksobonya
Rising Star

As the weeks and months go by and more people become vaccinated or build immunity after catching the virus, it will be time to start relaxing restrictions. I for one hope that masks will soon be a thing of the past. 

—Jessica