Skip to content

Delta Air Lines is looking to update its uniforms, again

Jan. 29, 2020
5 min read
Delta Air Lines is looking to update its uniforms, again
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 our daily newsletter

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

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees