Southwest Airlines is serving drinks again, encouraging ‘non-verbal’ ordering
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Soft drinks are back at Southwest Airlines! As of this month, passengers on flights of over 250 miles will be able to choose from Coke, Diet Coke and 7Up, in addition to water, which is available on all flights.
The move comes as other U.S. carriers begin resuming certain elements on their onboard service. Delta will expand its snack and beverage offerings beginning on April 14, for example, while United is returning some dining options as soon as April 1 on certain routes.
What’s notable about Southwest’s shift is how the airline is asking customers to place their order. Rather than the usual spoken exchange between passengers and crew, the airline is encouraging flyers to utilize “non-verbal” ordering, instead.
Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!
Travelers can view drink options on the inflight portal via southwestwifi.com, and simply zoom into the picture of the drink of choice. Alternatively, flight attendants can hold up a menu with four numbered options — travelers can hold up their fingers to indicate their choice.
“Customers are expressing a preference for additional beverage options, so this is one small way that we can meet Customer requests while still limiting selections to support the wellbeing and comfort of our Customers and Employees,” a Southwest spokesperson said in confirming the move to TPG.
Health experts have documented that speaking can lead to increased transmission of COVID-19. While passengers are legally required to be wearing their masks except while actively eating or drinking, there’s always a chance that a traveler ends up mid-bite as the flight attendant comes by to offer a drink.
Still, is it worth the extra effort for the airline and flight attendants? For that, I checked in with Dr. Elaine Hanh Le, chief medical officer for Healthline, TPG’s sister site.
“In many ways, this new strategy of showing people a photo of the options with numerical badging and having the person indicate selection via hand signals is great, not just to prevent the spread of COVID or any disease that could be transmitted via air droplets,” Dr. Le said. “It is also potentially great for people who do not speak the native language or who have hearing difficulties.”
This shift could also improve the travel experience for some flyers after the pandemic as well. As Dr. Le points out, presenting beverage options on a numbered card makes it possible for non-English speakers to place their order. For those travelers, some could end up skipping the beverage service entirely because of an inability to communicate with the crew.
Still, “non-verbal” ordering won’t be an option for everyone. “There will always be people who need to have the options spoken to them and who will need to have the option spoken back, including people with vision difficulties,” Dr. Le said.
Featured photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees