Just over a week after Delta Air Lines launched its long-awaited and very distinctive new uniform and the carrier has already had to make some urgent changes due to staff complaints. The problems mean Delta joins the likes of American Airlines and Alaska Airlines who have encountered issues when they debuted new uniforms.
According to CNBC, the airline has received complaints of the new uniform causing “skin irritation” – although the number of concerns raised by staffers is said to be minuscule compared to the problems reported after American’s disastrous uniform rollout.
Sources at the airline say around “two-dozen” employees have so far complained – with some flight attendants saying the service apron was irritating their necks. The apron was apparently, New York-based designer Zac Posen’s favourite piece of the new uniform. A spokesperson for the airline said they were working “to make it softer to the neck.”
The airline says it has also received around 25 complaints of some uniform items causing chafing issues. Delta will now offer blouses made out of 100% cotton – in addition to the standard blouse which is made with a cotton/Spandex blend. Some wool-based uniform items will also be offered in an alternative fabric choice.
It took Delta over three years to develop its new uniform – in large part, due to an extensive staff consultation and testing programme in order to prevent large-scale issues like those seen at American Airlines.
Over 4,670 flight attendants at American have so far complained of experiencing adverse reactions to the new uniform which they received in 2016. Health effects have included rashes and hives, as well as migraines, joint pain and even hair loss.
The carrier is now working with Lands’ End – the same supplier as Delta’s new uniform to create a new version which is set to debut next year. In the meantime, American FA’s have been given alternative options – including wearing their own clothing (as long as it looks like the actual uniform).
Many of the problems with American’s new uniform woes – as well as a similar situation experienced by Alaska Airlines in 2012 – have been attributed to the chemicals used in the manufacture of the clothing. While the evidence is still sketchy (and there’s no reason to suspect a similar situation at Delta), the Association of Flight Attendants has raised concerns of “toxic chemicals” in airline uniforms.
“No one should have to worry about becoming physically ill just from getting dressed for work, but that has happened and science confirms it. We need to put procedures in place to ensure it never happens again,” commented Sara Nelson – president of AFA.
A spokesperson for Lands’ End has said the complaints from Delta staffers are “isolated” incidents. More than 165 changes were made to the uniform during the development phase after direct involvement from employees. The uniform which has been rolled out to over 60,000 workers worldwide was first worn by an army of 1,000 testers.