Delta employees putting on purple with new uniform rollout


2018 might become known as the year Delta Air Lines went purple.

Thousands of employees at Atlanta-based Delta are getting fitted over the next few months for a new collection of Zac Posen-designed uniforms that features a shade the airline calls “Passport Plum.”

The dark purple is a stark contrast from the trademark colors the airline has been known for: red and blue, which are common choices for the nation’s major airlines.

Purple combines both colors, Delta notes. Yet what the company sees as a symbol of its innovation is still a shock for many employees. Some have found the hue grows on them inside the fitting room.

“The purple really shocked me a little bit,” said Madoka Miyagi, an Atlanta-based flight attendant. But now, “I love the color…. I think we’re really going to stand out walking in the concourse.”

In an effort to counter any purple perturbation, Delta positioned at the entrance of an employee fitting room on Hartsfield-Jackson’s Concourse E a timeline with images of Delta uniforms over the years. The sartorial history includes some surprising shades, like lime green in the summer of 1969 and 1970.

“It’s okay to have other colors,” said Ekrem Dimbiloglu, director of new uniforms at Delta. “The history of Delta uniforms has not always been red, white and blue.”

To be sure, the new uniform choices also include an array of other colors including blue, gray and red coats for the eponymous Delta customer service employees.

Delta employees at airports around the world will start wearing the new uniforms on May 29. The company has more than 60,000 uniformed workers, though its pilot uniforms will not change.

It’s the first uniform revamp for flight attendants and customer service agents since 2006 and the first for ground workers since 2000. The work clothing includes some unusual features like a passport pocket inside a blazer and a stretchy tab at the collar of a shirt to allow for bloating during flights, along with Delta’s triangular widget logo on jacket linings.

To Dimbiloglu, uniforms are a key part of Delta’s mission. “If you feel like you look good and you look good, you’re going to provide awesome customer service,” he said.

Employees ranging from flight attendants to ground workers are trying on the new uniforms at specially-designed fitting rooms at the Atlanta airport and inside a training center at Delta’s nearby headquarters, along with fitting areas in 14 other Delta hubs and cities around the world.

Delta wear-tested the uniforms on 1,000 employees early last year, and made 165 changes in response such as adding lining and a hood to a trench coat and adding a strap to a women’s bag to attach it to a suitcase. It worked to avoid the type of issues American Airlines encountered with a new uniform rollout that prompted complaints about itchiness and allergic reactions, and concerns about the manufacturer of the clothing.

While Delta’s uniforms, like American’s, include wool, Delta is also offering wool alternatives and Dimbiloglu said he has not gotten complaints about itchiness.

MORE PHOTOS: Click here for more images of Delta’s uniforms in our photo gallery

REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

AJC Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi keeps you updated on the latest news about Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Delta Air Lines and the airline industry in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

 

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