I'm a 53-year-old 'clean ambassador' for Delta. I spend my day making sure the airport follows proper COVID-19 protocols - here's what my job is like.

I'm a 53-year-old 'clean ambassador' for Delta. I spend my day making sure the airport follows proper COVID-19 protocols - here's what my job is like.
Jenero Burke. Courtesy of Delta
  • Jenero Burke, a clean ambassador for Delta Air Lines in Atlanta, Georgia, started out in customer service.
  • His job is to check and update health and wellness standards in and around the airport.
  • Here's what his day looks like, as told to freelancer Perri Ormont Blumberg.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Jenero Burke, a 53-year-old clean ambassador from Atlanta, Georgia, about his career. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I joined Delta in 2008 and have held a variety of positions, including customer-service agent and ticket and gate agent - and then prior to my current position, which I started in January, I was a safety auditor for one year.

As a clean ambassador for Delta, I'm part of a dedicated team within Delta's Global Cleanliness organization, a division that launched in 2020 during the pandemic to oversee Delta's promise to its customers and employees to commit to - and innovate on - health and wellness throughout the travel journey.

Clean ambassadors tend to have a background in airport or hospitality operations or vendor relations

There are about 17 of us, and we serve as cleanliness champions among Delta airport teams to ensure a consistently safe and sanitized experience across Delta's facilities and aircraft.

We oversee a strict quality-assurance program, developed with input from Delta's partners at Mayo Clinic, Emory University, and Reckitt, the makers of Lysol. This includes a regular audit of Delta's cleaning processes and procedures with technology and tools such as ATP, adenosine triphosphate-testing devices that are used to swab surfaces in hospitals and restaurants and evaluate the effectiveness of cleaning processes by measuring actively growing microorganisms.


I start my day with a commute via train to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to arrive in time for my noon shift

While on the train, I check my email to determine what my day will look like. Depending on the day, I might oversee a cabin audit in Concourse A, conduct randomized cleanliness tests before planes depart, or do a lap around the airport to make sure everything is looking clean.

In addition to my on-the-ground work, I facilitate new-hire training for cabin-cleaning agents and oversee inventory at warehouses to make sure cleaning materials are fully stocked and warehouses are practicing safety measures, in addition to my administrative work.

It's not unusual for my pedometer to exceed 10,000 steps

I'm constantly moving around the airport to conduct ATP tests, ensure the curb and concourse are looking clean, and examine the lobby and kiosks to confirm high-touch surfaces are being wiped down regularly.

After my shift, I carry some cleaning protocols used at work home with me, making sure to wipe down the seat and armrests on the train and avoid high-touch surfaces where I can.

I know about every shortcut in the airport, including outdoor paths to reach planes and concourses, which allows me to get places more quickly than maneuvering within the airport.