The Blog

Who Should Read Your Airline Comments and Complaints?

Generally speaking, the thought of filling out a comment card is to provide constructive feedback about what you enjoyed or disliked about a product or service. But who should be reading the comments you're leaving?
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Generally speaking, the thought of filling out a comment card is to provide constructive feedback about what you enjoyed or disliked about a product or service. But who should be reading the comments you're leaving? What level of comfort do you have filling out the information if you knew everyone you interacted with that day would read your comments?

If you've recently flown with Delta Air Lines then you may have received an email from the airline the moment your flight landed asking various questions about your experience. Delta has become the industry leader due to the enduring pride and 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.

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, I'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.

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?

Here is what Delta's Senior Vice President 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. 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."

Well, Allison, the messages flight attendants have been publishing on social media are everything but those intended to better the airline. Here's a few of the (publishable) comments we've seen:

"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."

"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

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 they 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.

As a former flight attendant I'm well aware that customer comments, though mostly constructive, are sometimes harsh, unwarranted and rude. I just cannot imagine a workplace or company that believes sharing these comments (albeit through a third party with a broken filter apparently) would be constructive and promote a positive work environment and instill a passion for the brand within its employees.

How do you feel about this? When you fill out a comment or suggestion for a company do you expect everyone you encountered that day to see it? Do you want everyone possible to see it or is it directed just to the management of said company?