Now Boarding: Bye-bye, Northwest Airlines

Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines quietly integrated into one company on January 31. The news had poked around my radar, but I didn’t get confirmation of it until I went onto to check my miles number only to have it redirected to Delta’s site. For a while, the two airlines had been operating together with codeshare flights, but only recently has the entire brand shifted under Delta’s name, including its booking, all tickets, the signage at the airports, and the planes have been re-painted with Delta colors. It’s like a scene out of 1984: one day you wake up and someone you knew was erased from history.

Delta’s web site says that nothing will change – if you booked a Northwest flight, your flight will still exist, under the same reservation and confirmation number. You’ll just be riding a Delta plane instead. Life continues as if Northwest just never existed.

On a personal note, it is somewhat sad to me. I flew Northwest frequently to and from college because my dad had racked up enough miles on that airline, which seemed to be the preferred airline of the United Nations. Back then, you had a bunch of paper coupons that said “5,000 miles” or “25,000 miles” or whatever denomination on them. When you felt like going somewhere, you called Northwest up, gave them the coupon number, asked if there were any seats available on a certain flight, and the agent would book you on it with your coupon. I used to fly Northwest to China all the time, too – it was direct from Detroit, a quick stopover from the east coast and didn’t require having to fly through Los Angeles or Anchorage anymore. Then the airline started implementing a 14-day minimum booking window on its frequent flier tickets, and then it started having black-out dates, and then United took over the China route, and then the whole airline just sort of went out the window. And now I can go on talking about old favorites, like TWA and Pan Am, and how I used to carry-on three bags and a giant bottle of wine with me and not go stocking-footed around the airport security, but I will just start to sound really old, and I’m not that old, so… I’ll stop now and just bid Northwest a fond farewell. Thanks for the adventures.


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