Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience…
Southwest Airlines has reverted to its pre-pandemic boarding policy, a company spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday. Like many airlines, Southwest has been boarding passengers in smaller groups to aid social distancing but the airline said it would now revert to its traditional boarding policy to meet the expectations of passengers who are only now returning to flying.
“The majority of our customers are familiar with Southwest’s standard boarding style and have an expectation for the normal boarding process as they return to travel,” a Southwest spokesperson noted.
Southwest doesn’t assign seats and normally lets passengers board in groups of 30 at a time. That number was cut to groups of just 10 passengers last March when the term ‘social distancing’ first entered our lexicon. Going forward, Southwest will revert back to allowing 30 passengers to board at a time.
The airline, which had blocked middle seats for much of last year to allow for inflight social distancing, lifted all passenger capacity caps on December 1, 2020. At the time, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said that the decision to start filling every available seat had been based on new scientific studies.
“The risk of breathing COVID-19 particles on an airplane is virtually non-existent, with the combination of air filtration and face covering requirements,” Kelly noted. “The combined studies, research, and counsel we have received, thus far, give us confidence in our approach and timing of this change to the Southwest Promise.”
Earlier this month, jetBlue said it would abandon back-to-front boarding for traditional group boarding. The airline also cited a federal mask mandate and HEPA air filtration as major factors in rolling back its socially distanced boarding policy. JetBlue has also lifted all passenger capacity caps on its flights.
United and Delta Air Lines continue to implement back-to-front pandemic boarding policies. American Airlines never changed its normal boarding procedure.
Delta is now the only airline in the United States continuing to block middle seats and has promised to restrict capacity through to April 30 at the earliest.
Southwest said it would continue to remind passengers to observe social distancing and that floor markers remained in place at its airports across the United States.
Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline. Mateusz is passionate about the aviation industry and helping aspiring flight attendants achieve their dreams. Cabin crew recruitment can be tough, ultra-competitive and just a little bit confusing - Mateusz has been there and done that. He's got the low down on what really works.