Friday, August 28, 2020

Flying Southwest Airlines During COVID

 A few weeks ago, my family made it out to Colorado for a nice little socially distanced getaway in the mountains. Aaron and Eli drove, so that we could have our car and all of the belongings packed into it. But we had some Southwest credit to use, and I was also not super excited about the idea of riding in the back seat of our Toyota Camry for 10 hours with a three year old and a seven month old. So Addie and I flew! I took a few photos and videos, and wanted to share a bit about my experience. Of course not everyone is ready to fly just yet, but some people have been waiting to see their family for months and months, some may be ready to get (safely) out of the house, and others may have to travel for work or other business. So here is a bit about my experience flying Southwest during COVID-19.

First of all, since Aaron was driving and had our larger items, I decided to just wear Addie and carry only her diaper bag and my small carry-on purse. I didn't check any bags. Because Addie is a lap child, I still had to check in at the Southwest Counter in order to show them her birth certificate. At KCI, it was completely dead, as you can see in this video. Everyone is doing online boarding passes on your phone, and even checking bags in at the self-service counters. They are also practicing spacing and social distancing.

I was met with another largely non-existent line at the security area. They had one side shut down, and then Xs marked on the ground for you to stand and distance. I was wearing Addie, so they had me go through the separate Xray scanner. Easy peasey. 

The gate area was the first time I actually saw any other people. Everyone was masked (as required), and then most people were able to leave seats in between each other in the gate area if they weren't traveling together. Southwest has also revamped their boarding process, so they only call ten people up at a time and have them socially distance when boarding. (So A 1-10, then 11-20, etc). I got on with the family boarding after the A group was done. 

All middle seats are open on Southwest right now, unless you are traveling with someone and would like to sit right next to them. Basically, you won't have more than two people in a row. This is set to continue through 10/31 as of now. Masks are required unless you are taking a drink or grabbing a quick bite to eat. I always saw everyone masked. I grabbed an aisle seat and had a nice masked convo with a very sweet lady who was going to visit her grandkids.

They did not do their typical service, but instead offered lidded water cups and a snack bag if you wanted it. People who were uncomfortable with that just declined the offer. I should also mention that Southwest is using an air recirculation system that "introduces fresh air into the cabin every second while inflight, resulting in a complete exchange of cabin air every two to three minutes. We use HEPA filters onboard that remove 99.97% of airborne particles*—similar to the technology found in hospitals." ( They are also taking extraordinary measures in their cleaning, which you can read more about here on their website. 

There has been more and more research lately on how air travel (when done well like Southwest is doing) is actually safer than ever. I have read a few articles about how COVID-19 did not pass from an infected passengers to others while on board, even during the sustained time together, because everyone was masked and because of the air filtration being provided. I certainly felt like they were taking great care of us all, and I was pleasantly surprised that most of the experience felt fairly normal, other than the extra pre-cautions of course.

Again, I completely understand that not everyone may be ready to fly right now, but I wanted to provide some details and information for those of you who are considering it or wondering what it was like! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you with anything travel-related!