Delta Airlines (NYSE: DAL) recently rolled out a plan to relax and rejuvenate its staff in between flights. The SkySpa as it is called will be available to Delta employees that have some downtime between departures and arrivals. It will feature discounted massages, skin and nail care, a hair salon, makeup application, and clothing alterations. The spa will be rolled out at three of Delta’s largest North American hubs in early 2016: Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and Detroit. Allison Ausband, Delta’s Senior Vice President, stated “making sure our employees are well taken care of and have the tools to look and perform their best is something we’re proud to do for our people. We know working at the airport or on board can take a toll, and offering the SkySpa at some of our busiest hubs helps address that.”
The SkySpas concept will be in partnership with New York based XpressSpa, a company with a presence in airports around the country. Many airlines currently offer spa services to frequent flyers. However, few extend the offerings to their employees, who often have to put up with the same cramped seating, jet lag, and mediocre airline food as their customers.
Delta’s spy benefit announcement comes on the heels of a 14.5% pay increase to most employers after the airline posted record-breaking profits due to lower fuel costs. Delta also boosted the 401(k) dollar-for-dollar match from 5 to 6 percent and boosted profit sharing to the largest in the company’s history. The airline paid more than $450 million to employees in its Georgia office, where the company is headquartered.
Delta’s senior management hopes that the pay bump, 401k increase, profit sharing disbursement, and the highly publicized spa benefit will help the company attract and retain employees at a time when the labor market is showing notable improvement. Furthermore, Delta hopes that improved employee morale will help alleviate increasing consumer gripes common not only to Delta, but to carriers throughout the airline industry. Airline companies are still trying to recover from cost saving measures introduced in the early part of the century, like the elimination of on board meals, significant reduction in seat size and leg room, scaled back mileage programs, chronically overbooked aircraft, and checked bag fees. After significant consolidation throughout the industry and a fall in fuel prices, profit margins have recovered and airlines are taking steps to win back customers turned off from flying altogether. By some measures, recent steps taken by Delta seem to be working. The airline has climbed the customer satisfaction rankings, improving in all seven categories during a recent JD Power and Associates review. A recent study ranking major airlines by time shaved off a typical flight has placed Delta 4th, behind smaller players like Alaska and Virgin America (which happens to be part owned by Delta), but ahead of larger and more immediate competitors American, United, US Airways, and Southwest. The measure suggests that the airline has taken steps to reduce overbooking and improved the condition of its 700 aircraft fleet.