Delta Air Lines To Provide Diversity Training To All Employees

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Between removing unruly or disruptive passengers from flights to denying boarding to travelers with service animals, the way in which airline employees handle tense situations with consumers has come to the forefront. Today, Delta Air Lines announced it would better prepare its employees for these encounters with diversity training. 

Bloomberg reports that Delta will begin providing diversity training to 23,000 flight attendants this spring.

The classes, Delta says, will use “real and relevant scenarios” and discuss unconscious bias and micro-aggressions that may pop up before or on flights.

Brian Kruse, a spokesperson for the airline, tells Bloomberg that the training was expedited after several public incidents where passengers said they were discriminated against.

One of those incidents occurred in October, when a passenger — who happens to be a physician — posted on Facebook that she was discriminated against by flight attendants who brushed her off during a medical emergency.

The woman says that when the flight attendants called for a doctor, she came forward. Instead of being asked to assist in the situation, a crew member reportedly said, “Oh no sweetie, we are looking for actual physicians.”

“We’re using this incident and others as an opportunity to improve,” Kruse told Bloomberg, referencing another episode in which a man was banned by the airline for his political outbursts.

Delta’s training comes as tensions between airlines and passengers has been on the rise.

According to the DOT, there were 74 incidents of discrimination regarding airlines in the first 10 months of 2016.

As a result, last week the Department of Transportation issued guidelines for airline personnel on nondiscrimination, and provided passengers with documents explaining their rights. The materials included sample scenarios outlining carrier’s legal obligation not to discriminate based on race, sex, religion, or national origin.

“DOT is committed to protecting the civil rights of all passengers, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or ancestry,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.  “These guidance documents will help passengers understand their rights and help airline employees avoid behavior that violates the law.”

Bloomberg reports that Delta is the last of the four major U.S. airlines — including United, American, and Southwest — to require diversity training for employees.

American Airlines requires all flight attendants to attend “value of respect” training every two years, while Southwest provides mandatory anti-discrimination and anti-harassment courts to new employees.

For its part, United requires customer-facing employees to undergo diversity training that includes lessons in cultural awareness, Bloomberg notes.