Revealed! The airline crew being sent to 'charm school'

Katy Holland

Delta Airlines is doing its bit to make sure passengers are treated properly - by sending its employees to 'charm school'.

A report in the Wall Street Journal says that every staff member who comes face-to-face with customers - that's around 11,000 in total - is going through a renewed training programme. That means every ticket counter, gate and baggage agent, as well as supervisors, will go through the re-training.

The classes include workshops where employees role-play scenarios with angry or confused travelers, with the aim of training employees to be empathetic and listen to customers.

Employees will also be taught to stop apologising for baggage fees, and instead explain Delta's "a la carte" program.

Talking to the newspaper, Michael Hazelton, a Delta agent who works as a facilitator for the training program, explained: "You may think you are bonding with the customer by agreeing the fees are horrible, but the customer thinks, '"this person just threw his company under the bus."'

The classes are part of the carrier's $2 billion improvement plan. The airline is also hiring 1,000 additional employees, and putting the entire team in a position to deliver better service by increasing the inventory of spare parts and airplanes.

Delta, which was recently voted 'the world's most admired airline' in Forbes magazine, had the highest rate of customer complaints filed with the Department of Transportation during the first three quarters of last year, and came in second-to-last in baggage handling through November.

A Delta spokesman said this was the first time a training program has been devoted exclusively to customer service in the past decade.

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