At least one airline is starting to pull back on their cleaning regimen. Southwest crews are limiting their between-flight cleanings and leaving most of the passenger areas for the overnight cleaning crew, according to reports.
Following the coronavirus outbreak in March and subsequent travel bans, airlines touted their stepped-up cleaning protocols as passengers returned.
Starting in August, Southwest is focusing on lavatories and tray tables between flights, leaving seat belts, arm rests and other areas for the overnight cleaning crew, Southwest representative Ro Hawthorne told the Dallas Morning News.
"Since flight schedules have increased, other areas of the aircraft will be disinfected during our overnight cleaning process, when Southwest Teams spend six to seven hours per aircraft cleaning all interior surfaces," Hawthorne said in a statement.
“As always, Southwest will monitor customer and employee feedback as we adapt to the new normal in air travel, while ensuring we keep safety as our top priority,” the statement continued.
In March, Southwest announced their cleaning program included "interior windows and shades, every seat belt buckle, passenger service units (including the touch buttons that control reading lights and vents that direct personal air), as well as seat surfaces, tray tables, armrests, etc."
The change to cleaning protocol will reduce the time an aircraft spends on the ground between flights, the airline told flight attendants in a memo obtained by CNN.