Cleaner Planes Feel Better

The husband and I were boarding a Southwest 737 recently and we had the same thought: it looks so clean.

“Oh, a new plane,” said a passenger boarding behind us.

But it wasn’t new. Not only was the exterior painted in the older Southwest color scheme, it had no winglets — the curved wing tips that improve fuel efficiency on most of the fleet. A flight attendant confirmed that it was an older jet, and the slight sag in the tray table next to me suggested it had seen better days.

But it was surprisingly pleasant to be in a space that looked clean and bright. Seems like the leather seats look spiffier and less worn than the fabric seats on many other carriers, too.

Whether this particular plane had just been deeply cleaned or Southwest’s deeper pockets have allowed it to keep its whole fleet cleaner, I can’t say. (Any thoughts on that, folks?)

In any event, the message may be mostly subliminal, but it’s surprisingly strong. Cleanliness just makes it feel like a better place to be.


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