October 12th, 2009

Pillow Fight: My unfortunate encounter with a Delta flight attendant

by Jacqueline Whitmore

This past weekend I was a passenger on Delta flight 1070, from Atlanta to West Palm Beach. When I stepped onto the plane, I asked the lead flight attendant, Nicole J. (real name), where I could stow my laptop case. She told me that I could put it in an overhead bin in first class. Before I placed my case in the overhead bin, I moved a pillow and blanket out of the way to make room for my case. I then took the pillow from the bin and began to walk back to my seat.

Nicole noticed that I had the pillow in my hand and she quickly grabbed it from me.  She then said in a scolding tone, “You can’t take that pillow out of first class!” Confused, I asked why and she said, “Because everyone in coach class would start asking us for one and we don’t have enough to go around!” I told her that no one in first class was using the pillow and she flippantly replied, “It doesn’t matter.”

For years, I have been a loyal, Delta silver/elite and Sky Club member and I have never witnessed such rude service from a Delta flight attendant. Nicole’s behavior was not only unnecessary, it made for a very unpleasant flight.  Will this incident preclude me from ever flying on Delta again?  Probably not.  After all, I try not to sweat the small stuff.

Yet, I have to wonder who in the corporate office came up with this “policy.”  I understand that the company is trying to reduce costs and therefore reduce the number of pillows on board.  However, it wouldn’t have cost this flight attendant nor the airline a dime to allow me to take this pillow back to my seat. In fact, it would have made me a very happy and more comfortable customer.  And a happy customer is a return customer.

Something as simple as the “coach customer can’t have a first class pillow” rule will undoubtedly impact customer satisfaction.  So be warned — sometimes when you eliminate something small from your company, you end up paying a bigger price in the long run.  And in this case, the bigger price could be decreased ticket sales.


Dear Ms. Whitmore,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding your recent trip on October 10.  On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I apologize for the inconvenience you experienced due to unprofessional demeanor of our employee.

After reading your comments, I certainly understand why you wanted to bring this matter to our attention.  We expect our flight attendants to be helpful and professional at all times.  I am truly sorry you did not receive the service you expected and should have received.

I also realize the appearance of our flight attendant was unsatisfactory.  We want to ensure our crew members present themselves in a fashionable and professional manner at all times.  Feedback like you have provided will help us to improve our customer image.  I will be sharing your comments with our In-flight leadership team for internal follow up.

As a gesture of goodwill, for lack of customer service, I have added 3,700 bonus miles to your frequent flyer account.  Please allow three business days for the miles to appear in your account.

Ms. Whitmore, again thank you for writing.  As a SkyMiles Silver Medallion member, we appreciate your business and will always welcome the opportunity to be of service.


Jerry P. Brown

Coordinator, Customer Care

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