Southwest Airlines no longer cleaning armrests, seat belts between flights

Southwest Airlines is no longer disinfecting armrests between flights, as it begins returning to a more normal turnaround schedule.

Beginning August 1, Southwest altered its between-flight sanitization policy to focus on bathrooms and tray tables, forgoing seat belts and armrests, which will now be cleaned at night as part of its “six to seven hour” deep clean.

The shift in policy was to prioritize high-touch areas while also reportedly minimizing turnaround time.

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The airline said it will be prioritizing high-touch areas like tray tables and lavatories.

"These are the most important areas to clean between each flight as they are prone to contamination from Customer use and food/beverage consumption," a memo shared with USA Today read.

In an email to Fox News, the major carrier explained its “multi-layered approach to cleaning,” which includes using a broad-spectrum disinfectant to clean lavatories and tray tables at every seat between each flight. The planes also undergo an electrostatic cleaning once a month, which reportedly kills bacteria for 30 days.

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Though passengers are allowed to wipe down their own area – the airline will provide sanitizing wipes to customers upon request, as well as provide hand sanitizer at check-in and ticket counters.

Southwest has also pledged to maintain empty middle seats until at least through October to better allow for social distancing.

"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," a statement read.

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