Airline News

“Delta Pulse” Program Allows Passenger Bullying of Flight Attendants

“Delta Pulse” Program Allows Passenger Bullying of Flight Attendants

Delta’s Alarming Pulse 

Delta has become the industry leader due to the enduring professionalism of its employees who provide legendary, award-winning service day in and day out. In their effort to keep Delta climbing even higher, management has rolled out a new survey program which they’ve branded Delta Pulse. The program’s framework, which has also been used by other well-respected customer-centric brands, allows passengers to submit realtime feedback concerning their experience while flying Delta. Sounds like a great idea right?

Not So Fast

Delta flight attendants, when checking in to work their flights, have been bombarded with many hateful and demeaning comments made by customers who claim flight attendant’s bodyweight and even sexual orientation has negatively affected their Delta experience. As we know, front-line employees often take the brunt of customer frustrations which can be triggered by delays, lack of meal choice, downgraded equipment and thousands of other variables completely out of an employee’s control. Although other employee groups are receiving Delta Pulse feedback, we’ve only heard from flight attendants and our in-flight reporters within Delta’s general offices who are offended by the way the program has been implemented.

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Delta claims that the filters are still being adjusted to prevent these types of “inappropriate and degrading comments” from making their way through to flight attendants. However, we have to wonder how such a widely used customer survey system would not have default settings to prevent this type company sanctioned workplace harassment. We are in 2016 right?

Actual customer comments sent to flight attendants via their “dashboards” in Delta computers: 

“You have too many old, worn out and overweight flight attendants on this flight. There are also a few who are clearly “alternative lifestyle”. It sure makes flying Delta less enjoyable.”

“I f–king hate this airline and your s–tty flight attendants especially the ugly ones on my flight today”

“The aisles are too narrow on your planes and my elbows kept getting bumped by the pudgy flight attendant who couldn’t control the movement of her ass”

“I think the red dresses worn by your flight attendants look horrible. They are skin-tight and completely unflattering”

“The flight attendants on this flight were fabulous. What a nice change to have young, fresh, exciting crew on board instead of the old washed up ladies who are bitter and there just to get their money before they retire”

“Ugliest flight attendant I’ve ever had but she was sweet”

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Bullying by proxy? The Spin Begins

Here is what Delta’s SVP of In-flight Service, Allison Ausband, had to say in a recent email following the Delta Customer Service Summit in Atlanta:

” Another dinner topic that came up was Delta Pulse… more specifically some of the customer comments.  Having insights to what our customers have to say about their travel experience on us is a gift —-information you and other customer-facing employees at Delta have never had before.  Some big name, trusted brands have been and are using the same survey company we are to measure customer satisfaction and gather customer feedback, like:  Nordstrom, Tory Burch, Mercedes-Benz, Four Seasons and Marriott.  It puts the power and knowledge in your hands to be able to act on and deliver the best possible experience for our customers, just as these companies are doing.”

Allison’s letter has lots of name dropping so far, but let’s read on and hopefully there’s an apology in here somewhere…

” There’s no doubt it’s a powerful tool and will help us become better.  What doesn’t help us become better are inappropriate and degrading comments.  While those kinds of comments are few and far between, they detract from the whole purpose of the survey. We have worked extremely hard with our vendor on having Delta Pulse do a word scan of all the surveys submitted (8,000 per day) to find and remove words and phrases that we don’t want you having to read.  Unfortunately, depending on how it’s phrased by the customer, it may not always catch those.  Please know we continue to review the filtering process, and we’re engaged with IT and our vendor to improve it and make it smarter so those comments don’t make their way through to you.  I would ask that you focus on the comments that provide affirmation of all the great things you’re doing, and those that offer constructive feedback.  And if you should happen to encounter an inappropriate comment, please let your leader know so we can use those as examples to further improve the filtering system for everyone.  This is a new system and we’ll continue to work together to make it the best feedback mechanism for all of us, so keep the feedback coming; and I apologize for any comments you’ve seen or might see that aren’t intended to make us better.”

Oh, I think I found an “apology” although I doubt it has any flight attendant feeling very comfortable about  viewing feedback from Delta Pulse on their dashboard.

Here’s an idea! Perhaps Delta should suspend the system until the filters have been thoroughly tested to prevent employees from seeing harassing and traumatizing messages? We would think Delta would feel it worth the investment to have each and every response read by a human being than subject any employee to some of these crushing comments.

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Delta Sanctioned Bullying

In the midst of an organization effort, Delta’s flight attendants have been dealing with perpetual tension in the workplace. Many report an environment in which pro-union flight attendants are selectively disciplined while others who are openly against unionization are able to freely disregard certain company policies. In fact, there are some who feel Delta Pulse is just part of a more elaborate system of harassment designed to break the spirit of many flight attendants who wish to be represented by a union that would be able to prevent this sort of workplace hostility.

I have not spoken to one Delta employee who hates Delta Air Lines. We have found many who do not appreciate this latest condonation of harassment now being practiced by Delta management.

Catherine Sirna, a spokeswoman for the carrier, said feedback from passengers helps to improve the customer experience and invest in future services. She told MailOnline Travel: ‘Real-time feedback rolling in across more than 340 destinations puts the power and knowledge in our employees’ hands to be able to act on and deliver an innovative and exceptional experience.’Out of nearly 800,000 surveys received about our flight attendants, we have only had seven surveys with inappropriate comments that have been brought to our attention by our flight attendants. 

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Gailen David is co-host of the nationally syndicated travel talk show, "The Jet Set" with over 1.8M weekly viewers in over 200 television markets in 12 countries. A former flight attendant, he leads a global discussion about "Jetiquette", the rules or code of civilized travel. Gailen is a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN and USA Today on topics related to the airline travel experience and of course, Jetiquette. Visit Gailen's website

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