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Delta Raises Bar of Flight Attendant Training in Push to Boost Workforce

The multi-million-dollar expansion of Delta Air Lines’ flight attendant training center, unveiled in late May 2023, has finished its first 6-week training program for newly-hired flight attendants.

Based at Delta’s Atlanta headquarters close to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the upgraded center takes flight attendants through all eventualities they may encounter at 35,000 feet, from emergency landings, to cabin depressurization, to heart attacks. Zane Wells, one of the training program managers, says that every event simulated at the centre is “something that we don’t want to see, but if it happens, we need to be ready”.

One incentive for the center’s renovation was ensure that Delta’s requirement for qualified flight attendants to return to Atlanta and undergo further training is putting even the most seasoned attendants through their paces. As Wells observes, “We want it to be second nature for our flight attendants, so they can keep themselves safe while also keeping our customers safe”.

The center even has a pool to ensure flight attendants have prior experience of emergency water evacuations.

One highly-nuanced area of training is “de-escalation tactics”, as director of inflight hiring and learning TJ Johnson puts it. With cases of disorderly passengers on the rise, identifying frustrated customers and pacifying tensions is becoming a more important part of an attendant’s job.

Delta expects to hire and train somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 flight attendants this year. Johnson says, “We feel really good about the number of flight attendants that we have onboarded and trained to be ready to meet the demands of the summer”.

The new-look Atlanta training center, by being able to train more attendants, will offer the secondary bonus to attendants of better work leeway. According to Johnson, the centre is key to “ensuring a work-life balance for our flight attendants […] we’re providing them more schedule flexibility and then, also, we want to make sure that we’re providing our customers with the experience that they expect.”

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