As the busy summer travel season officially kicks off, it’s beginning to feel a lot like 2019. Travelers are ready to vacation and airports are bustling. With the resurgence in demand for air travel, Southwest Airlines has been preparing for this peak season and looks forward to welcoming Customers onboard.
With newly announced amenities to enhance the Customer Experience, we have done the work to modify our schedule and hire new Employees with an eye toward Reliability for the summer. Southwest is prepared with its Legendary Customer Service and Hospitality for Customers on the ground and in the air.
What We’re Doing to Support our Customers and Employees
Restoring our Network
The work continues to return the Southwest network to pre-pandemic levels, with the goal to restore 85% of our schedule by the end of the year— offering breadth and depth in the markets we serve with improved Reliability.
Supporting our Employees
At Southwest, our People are at the Heart of what we do. We’re on track to hire more than 10,000 Employees by the end of 2022—with hundreds more in training each month—these new Employees will be ready to support our Customers this summer.
Modernizing our Customer Experience
We’ve launched Wanna Get Away Plus™, a new fare product that adds more flexibility, options, and rewards to our fare lineup. Customers can now book a Wanna Get Away Plus fare for all travel on Southwest.com and the Southwest Airlines ® app. Check out Southwest’s new fare lineup at southwest.com/WannaGetAwayPlus.
To improve connectivity onboard, we have outfitted a number of our aircraft with upgraded WiFi equipment providing more bandwidth and enhanced service.
By the end of 2022, we’ll launch additional changes to further connect you to what’s important in your life—such as new functionality for Customer changes on our digital platforms and airport kiosks, including adding a lap child and purchasing Upgraded Boarding online. Learn more at Southwest.com/experience.
Working alongside Agencies
Recently, airlines met with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) representatives regarding Florida airspace, and the Administration has committed to increasing Air Traffic Control staff in the Sunshine State.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced their commitment to add airport security screeners—both human and K-9—to support summer travelers.
The Southwest Team looks forward to welcoming Customers onboard this summer. We hope we can share our Southwest Hospitality with you on a flight very soon!
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At Southwest Airlines, we’re on a journey to enhance our Customer Experience to better connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. As part of this commitment, I’m excited to announce we’re investing -in improvements to modernize and simplify the Customer Experience.
First, we’re upgrading our onboard WiFi to deliver a more reliable, faster internet connection for our Customers in the air. We recently signed an agreement with Viasat to provide next generation WiFi capability for our new aircraft deliveries beginning this fall. We’re also in the process of upgrading the WiFi equipment on our existing fleet in partnership with our longstanding connectivity provider, Anuvu. We have already upgraded 50 aircraft, with a plan to have 350 aircraft updated by the end of October.
Next, we know it's important for Customers to be able to charge their devices onboard. That’s why we’re planning to install the latest generation onboard USB A and USB C power ports at every seat in our MAX aircraft, with a space-saving technology that will not compromise legroom. We plan to bring this new convenience and capability onboard 737 MAX aircraft beginning in early 2023.
Larger Overhead Bins
Another onboard upgrade coming soon is larger overhead bins in the cabin. While we already have the most Customer-friendly baggage policies in the industry, we want to ensure there is enough space for Customers’ luggage and personal items onboard. Expect to see these bins installed in late 2022 into early next year.
More Free Movies
To round out our inflight enhancements, we're going to more than double the number of free movies currently offered and on-demand television episodes Customers can watch, and make further improvements to our onboard food and beverage offerings over the next several months.
We're also deeply committed to simplifying other elements of the Customer Experience, which is why we’re investing in several digital enhancements that will allow self-service options for Customers online or via mobile.
For example, we’ve already added several features online that make it easier for Customers to change a flight, which we know is important to our Customers given our flexible no change fee policy.
Additionally, our previously announced new fare product, Wanna Get Away Plus TM , brings additional flexibility and value to the travel experience. Expected to become available this month, Wanna Get Away Plus offers a new ability to transfer travel funds* and to confirm a same-day change** to an available seat on a different flight, without a change in fare.
I’m thrilled that these enhancements will allow us to continue serving with even more warmth, Hospitality, and Heart. We’re ready to welcome our Customers onboard.
Visit Southwest.com/experience for more information.
*Transferable Flight Credit:
Transferable flight credit allows you to transfer your flight credit to someone else. Both must be Rapid Rewards ® Members and only one transfer is permitted. The expiration date is 12 months from the date the ticket was booked. For bookings made through a Southwest ® Business channel, there is a limitation to transfer only between employees within the organization.
**Same-Day Change/Same-Day Standby
If there’s an open seat on a different flight that departs on the same calendar day as your original flight and it’s between the same cities, you can get a seat on the new flight free of airline charges. If there isn’t an open seat on this different flight, you can ask a Southwest Gate Agent to add you to the same-day standby list for a flight between the same city pairs that departs on the same calendar day prior to your originally scheduled flight, and you will receive a message if you are cleared on the flight. For both the same-day change and same-day standby benefits, you must change your flight or request to be added to the same-day standby list at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of your original flight or the no-show policy will apply. Based on the flight status contact preference selected during booking, the message regarding your standby status will be an email or text message with a link to access the boarding pass via the Southwest app, mobile web, or you can visit a Southwest Gate Agent to print off the boarding pass. If there are any government taxes and fees associated with these itinerary changes, you will be required to pay those. Your original boarding position is not guaranteed.
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We’re excited to announce that we’ve expanded our menu of onboard beverages to the majority of our flights!
On flights longer than 175 miles, Customers have the option to order from the following expanded list of non-alcoholic beverages: tonic water, apple juice, Coke Zero, Dr. Pepper, hot tea, and hot cocoa. These beverage options join the current offerings of Coke, Diet Coke, 7 Up, water, ginger ale, seltzer water, orange juice, cranberry cocktail juice, and coffee.
Additionally, we brought back alcoholic beverages onboard! On flights longer than 175 miles, Customers can purchase an alcoholic beverage with a credit card or valid Southwest Airlines coupon* from the following list of options: Miller Lite ($6), Blue Moon ($7), Lagunitas IPA ($7), Cruset Brut Sparkling Wine ($6), Mossel Bay Chenin Blanc Chardonnay ($6), Carmenet Cabernet Sauvignon ($6), Deep Eddy Vodka ($7), Deep Eddy Lime Vodka ($7), Jack Daniels Whiskey ($7), Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey ($7), Bacardi Rum ($7), and Cazadores Tequila ($7).
Lastly, on flights less than 175 miles, we will provide a water-only service. This service is being introduced so that Customers can still enjoy a beverage, even though flying time is limited.
We’re delighted to restore additional onboard offerings as a part of the Southwest Hospitality that you’ve known and loved.
*Southwest Airlines will accept all drink coupons with a 2020 or 2021 expiration date through December 31, 2022. Thank you for having your coupon ready to show or give to a Flight Attendant when ordering a premium beverage.
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It’s a privilege to be thankful for so much this season, including the opportunity to play a significant role in the holiday plans of millions of travelers. Our entire Southwest Family is hard at work to bring new memories, anticipated vacations, and reunited families together for this holiday season. In the air, on the ground, beneath the wing, or behind computer screens, please know more than 54,000 People are dedicated to bringing Heart to holiday travel.
The Southwest Leadership Team is focused on supporting our Employees who are serving our Customers and each other during the holidays. We’ve increased staffing, welcoming thousands of new Employees into the Southwest Family during the past several months, and we’re on track to reach a target of bringing on more than 5,000 additional people by the end of this year. We also adjusted our flight schedule for November and December to set up our Hospitality experts for success in focusing on what they do best, serving you.
With airports busy and many flights full, Customers should check Southwest.com for our latest guidance on recommended arrival times for specific airports, whether traveling domestically or internationally. That brings me to the easiest thing travelers can do to contribute to a seamless journey—please arrive early and ready to travel. This will allow plenty of time to move across parking lots and into airport shuttles, through checking bags and security checkpoints, and toward a snack or drink before a flight, so they can be at their gate well before scheduled boarding, which typically is 30-40 minutes before departure time.
Take some additional steps to ease travel this season:
Wanna save time at the airport? Download the Southwest app to get mobile boarding passes, help find the departure gate, get timely updates on flights, and enjoy free inflight movies and live TV while onboard.
Flexibility is in the palm of your hand. If for any reason travel plans change, don’t forget that Southwest.com and our app also are great places to get help. You don’t have to wait in line or on a phone. Just remember: you must cancel any reservation before the scheduled departure time either to bank nonrefundable travel funds for future use or to request a refund of refundable fares. (We’ve made it this simple for five decades—Southwest never has charged a single change fee.)
Be fit to fly and mask up. Don’t forget that we’re all required to wear masks in airports and onboard aircraft. It’s a federal requirement in place through January 18. Thanks for understanding our People are working to make sure we’re all compliant. Customers agree to this when they purchase a ticket with us and check-in for a boarding pass.
We’re ready to welcome Customers. We all have a role in delivering for Customers this holiday season, and for extending grace and civility when things go off plan. All of us have one focus—you, and we’re all working to fill the holidays with Heart.
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As the Southwest Airlines Team continues supporting the well-being of our Customers and Employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also monitoring the latest outcomes of scientific research to guide our actions and protocols. We’re encouraged that much of the latest research validates the effectiveness of utilizing a multi-layered approach to lower the virus transmission risk associated with flying, like the actions we take as part of our Southwest Promise.
The Southwest Promise is an enduring pledge, but the way we’re upholding our procedures is evolving with guidance from the latest science. Results from a host of studies were recently released, and we are encouraged by the expertise and perspectives from these respected voices:
Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health released a study which concluded that the transmission risk of COVID-19 when flying is lower than other routine activities, such as grocery shopping or dining out, due to multi-layered protective measures, mask wearing, and the ventilation and HEPA filtration systems on aircraft. The scientists concluded that the ventilation and filtration on airplanes is so good that it reduces the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 to a point so low that it “effectively counters the proximity travelers are subject to during flights.” They also previously published a bulletin that concluded wearing face coverings as part of a multi-layered approach offers significant protection from acquiring COVID-19 during air travel. The bulletin supports our face-covering policy and affirms research from other top medical organizations. The report also cited a recent modeling study that concluded that wearing a surgical mask, combined with the ventilation rates onboard aircraft, can reduce the risk of infection from respiratory particles to less than 1 percent.
The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, offers reassuring news about the low risk of virus transmission during flight. Since the start of the year, they found only 44 cases of COVID-19 in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight—and many of those cases occurred in the early stages of the pandemic before enhanced cleaning procedures and mandatory face mask requirements were widely implemented by airlines. That’s 44 people out of the nearly 1.2 billion passengers who have traveled in 2020, or one case for every 27 million travelers this year. As IATA suggests, this is approximately the same risk category as being struck by lightning.
Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer also recently shared findings regarding cabin airflow. The manufacturers found that a combination of an airplane’s airflow systems, high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, barriers created by the seatbacks, downward airflow in aircraft cabins, and the high rates of air exchange efficiently limit the spread of viruses and reduce the risk of disease transmission. When you layer in the use of face coverings, the manufacturer’s data concludes that being in close proximity within an aircraft cabin is safer than most other indoor environments.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s U.S. Transportation Command released the results from its Commercial Aircraft Cabin Aerosol Dispersion Test showing the overall exposure risk from aerosolized pathogens, like coronavirus, is very low on the types of aircraft they studied. The research indicated that high air exchange rate diluted particles within the aircraft cabins studied in less than six minutes, on average, and the typical American home takes about 90 minutes to clear the same types of particles. Additionally, the study concluded that the high air exchange coupled with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration of all recirculated air means a commercial aircraft’s air supply system provides protection greater than the design standards for a patient isolation room or a hospital operating room.
Along with reviewing the latest science-based findings regarding air travel, Southwest also recently announced that we’ll be collaborating with Stanford University’s School of Medicine. We’ve shared our multi-layered Southwest Promise with an advisory council from Stanford Medicine who agreed that our protocols follow proper science-based principles and can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel. We received positive feedback on actions such as our enhanced cleaning of aircraft, the requirement of face coverings for travel, and utilizing HEPA filters onboard aircraft, which remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles from cabin air. We’ll continue collaborating with Stanford Medicine for insights that will help us evolve our policies as we continue delivering on the Southwest Promise.
The Southwest Team is working each day to ensure that our multi-layered approach to cleaning and supporting your safety stays current with the latest research findings and public health guidance. When you’re ready to travel again, we’ll be ready to welcome you onboard with actions that support your well-being and comfort. We hope to see you soon!
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Have you ever been waiting in the security line at the airport just wishing there was a way for you to “fly” through the checkpoint? Well, soon your wish can be made possible if you are traveling through participating Southwest Airlines airports! Later this month, Southwest Airlines will implement a priority security lane program, fittingly branded “Fly By Security Lanes." Fly By lanes will initially be available in the following airports: • Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL), • San Francisco International Airport (SFO), • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), • Denver International Airport (DEN), • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), • Orange County John Wayne Airport (SNA), • Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI). Look for more rollouts in the following months, as we plan to implement Fly By Security Lanes in additional locations. So how can you access the Fly By Security Lane? It’s as easy as purchasing a Business Select Fare, which already grants you priority boarding, bonus Rapid Rewards credit, and a drink coupon. You can also access the Fly By Security Lanes when you become a Rapid Rewards A-List Member by flying at least 16 roundtrips over the course of 12 months. (A-List Members also earn priority boarding privileges and automatic check-in!) When you enter the Fly By Security Lane, you will need to present one of two credentials: 1. If you are a Rapid Rewards A-list Member, you will show your A-List identification card (which should be in your home by the end of this week). 2. If you purchase a Business Select Fare, you simply need to present your boarding pass. In some cases, the Fly By lane will not have dedicated screening equipment, but the lane will still let you reach the screening process more quickly. Keep in mind that family members or others traveling with A-List or Business Select Customers are not allowed to "piggyback" with a Fly By-eligible Customer. So as you are traveling this fall, be on the lookout for Fly By Security Lanes - coming to an airport near you!
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