Delta Air Lines is looking to update its uniforms, again

Jan 29, 2020

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.

Delta Air Lines is gearing up to refresh its employee uniforms again, a move that comes less than two years after introducing its last set of new garments for front-line workers.

The airline said it will begin soliciting feedback from employees in the coming months, seeking input through surveys and in-person focus groups. The goal: updated uniforms that could be introduced as soon as late 2021.

The decision to change the uniforms so soon is in response to employees who have raised issues with the garments – notably complaints about health issues, but also other concerns, the airline said.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

Initially, a few hundred employees had complained about the new uniforms between their introduction in May 2018 and November 2019, said Ekrem Dimbiloglu, director of Delta’s new uniform program. In response, the airline introduced an alternative: employees are now allowed to wear their own black trousers or skirts and blazers with a white shirt or blouse.

When that option was introduced, however, Dimbiloglu said the number of complaints about the new uniforms “soared into the thousands.”

“It’s a number that’s just not OK,” he added.

With so many employees wearing the alternative option, it had obscured the company’s goal of having a cohesive look for its crews,  Dimbiloglu said.

Related: See Delta’s new ‘Passport Plum’ uniforms being rolled out by CEO Ed Bastian

“Having a group of folks wearing their own black and white clothing versus a group that’s wearing the Delta uniform” was becoming unsustainable, Dimbiloglu added.

Delta’s latest uniforms, introduced with much fanfare in 2018, were designed by Zac Posen and manufactured by Lands’ End. As those new threads were rolling out, Dimbiloglu said then that he anticipated the new look — including the standout purple dress for flight attendants — would be seen by the airline’s passengers around the world for at least a decade.

On Tuesday, he acknowledged that the uniforms have not lived up to that expectation.

“It’s not where we wanted to be, it’s not where I wanted to be, it’s not where a lot of folks on our cross-divisional uniform committee wanted to be,” Dimbiloglu said.

He added that Delta has done extensive testing with third-party firms and has not identified any probable causes of the health issues that employees claim to be having. But, he added, the test results are secondary to the employees’ concerns.

“We believe employees,” he said. “We have tried all along to really listen to employees and make sure they’re feeling good in what they’re wearing.”

Related: See Delta’s safety video that shows crew uniforms from every era

Still, some workers have had strong complaints.

A group of flight attendants has filed a class action lawsuit against Lands’ End, the company that manufactures their uniforms, alleging that the garments are causing health problems.

According to the lawsuit, Delta employees have had problems such as breathing difficulties, rashes, blurred vision and headaches, which they attribute to the new uniforms.

Uniform roll-outs have bedeviled U.S. airlines before.

American rolled out a new look to more than 70,000 of its frontline workers in 2016, but the carrier soon faced complaints from some employees that the garments were making them sick. American ultimately decided it would switch suppliers, severing ties with initial manufacturer Twin Hill in favor of Lands’ End for new uniforms that are due to begin arriving this year.

At Delta, Dimbiloglu said he hopes to have new uniforms introduced by late next year. He’s unsure, however, if the new attire will be essentially updated versions of the current designs, or an entirely new set of garments and accessories.

Related: A brief history of flight attendant uniforms — in pictures

Zac Posen/Land's End Delta men's uniforms. (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.)
(Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.)

“I think honestly your crystal ball guess is as good as mine,” he said.

As it mulls its uniform update, Delta will provide an interim option for women that includes a gray, non-wool, untreated uniform using the same materials as the current flight attendant suit for men. The airline will also introduce a white open-collar blouse for women, something the carrier said would address complaints about the current design’s high neckline.

Dimbiloglu said it’s likely Lands’ End will be involved in the production of the new uniform, but it’s unclear what role — if any — Zac Posen will play, particularly if the new uniforms are designed from scratch.

Whatever the final design, Dimbiloglu said Delta is committed to making sure the outfits are made of materials that meet Okeo-Tex’s Standard 100. Okeo-Tex is an independent quality control group, and its Standard 100 is a recognized measure for testing fabrics for chemicals.

Dimbiloglu said he’s optimistic that this process will finally result in a uniform that lasts for Delta’s employees.

“It’s about getting it right and getting this uniform on them for hopefully the next ten years.”

Related:The 10 longest (and 10 shortest) Delta Air Lines flights

This post has been updated to reflect the breadth of complaints about Delta’s current uniforms. 

Featured photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.