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Northwest Airlines

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere

Template:Infobox Airline

Entrance sign to Northwest Airlines headquarters in Eagan

Northwest Airlines, Inc. (often abbreviated NWA), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, Inc., is a major United States[1] airline headquartered in Eagan, Minnesota,[2][3] near Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (Minnesota / USA). Northwest has three major hubs in the United States: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, and Memphis International Airport. Northwest also operates flights from its Asian hub at Tokyo Narita International Airport (Japan). Transatlantic flights are operated from its European hub at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in cooperation with its partner airline KLM.

As of 2006, Northwest was the world's sixth largest airline in terms of domestic and international scheduled passenger miles flown and the U.S.'s sixth largest airline in terms of domestic passenger miles flown.[4] In addition to operating one of the largest domestic route networks in the U.S., Northwest carries more passengers across the Pacific Ocean (5.1 million in 2004) than any other U.S. carrier, and carries more domestic air cargo than any other American passenger airline.[5] It is the only U.S. combination carrier (passenger and cargo service) operating dedicated Boeing 747 freighters. The airline, along with its then-parent company, Northwest Airlines Corporation and subsidiaries, operated under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection which, in the United States, allows continued operation during the reorganization effort, not cessation of flights as in the case in some countries. Northwest emerged from bankruptcy protection on May 31, 2007.

Northwest Airlines' regional flights are operated under the name Delta Connection by Mesaba Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines, and Compass Airlines. Northwest Airlines is currently a minority owner of Midwest Airlines, holding a 40% stake in the company.[6] Its frequent flyer program is called WorldPerks. Northwest Airlines' tagline is "Now you're flying smart."

On April 14, 2008, Northwest announced it would become known as Delta Air Lines after its merger with Delta Air Lines closed on October 29, 2008. This made Delta the largest airline in the world.[7] Northwest will, however, continue to operate as an independent carrier (as a Delta Air Lines subsidiary) for several months until the operating certificates and other factors are combined.

In February 2009, the airline began consolidating gates and ticket counters at airports served simultaneously by both Delta and Northwest. The rebranding will include the changing of "Northwest" signs to "Delta" signs. The integration is expected to continue throughout this year and into early 2010.[8] The airline's hubs in Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Memphis were rebranded as of March 31, 2009.[9][10][11] The Tokyo hub is rebranded as of August 24, 2009.[12] The integration of both carriers is planned to be completed by February 2010.



Template:Unreferenced section Northwest Airlines was founded on September 1, 1926 by Colonel Lewis Brittin, under the name Northwest Airways, a reference to the historical name for the Midwestern United States that derived from the Northwest Territory. Like other early airlines, Northwest's focus was not in hauling passengers, but in flying mail for the U.S. Post Office Department.[13] The fledgling airline established a mail route between Minneapolis and Chicago, using open cockpit biplanes such as the Curtiss Oriole and the 1929-built Waco JYM.

File:Waco JYM NC991H N.W.Airlines HARM 10.06.06R.jpg
1929 Northwest Airways Waco JYM used on the Minneapolis-Chicago mail route

Northwest began flying passengers in 1927. In 1928, the airline started its first international route with service to Winnipeg (Canada). The airline's operations were expanded to smaller cities in the region by the end of the decade. In 1931, Northwest sponsored Charles and Anne Lindbergh on a pioneering flight to Japan, scouting what would become known as the Northwest Airlines Great Circle route, and proving that flying via Alaska could save as much as Template:Convert on a New York City-Tokyo route. In 1933, Northwest was designated to fly the Northern Transcontinental Route from New York City to Seattle, Washington. It adopted the name of Northwest Airlines the following year as a result of the Air Mail scandal. The carrier's stock began to be publicly traded in 1941.

During World War II, Northwest joined the war effort by flying military equipment and personnel from the continental United States to Alaska. During this time, Northwest began painting its aircraft tails red as a visual aid in the often harsh weather conditions. The airline's experience with the severe northern climate led the government to designate Northwest as the United States' main North Pacific carrier following World War II.

In the spring of 1947, Northwest began staffing its Tokyo base with company personnel, flying them on the Great Circle route. On July 15, 1947, Northwest became the first airline to operate a commercial passenger flight from the U.S.A. to Japan,[14] using a Douglas DC-4 aircraft named The Manila. The flight originated at Minneapolis-Saint Paul Wold-Chamberlain Field (the predecessor to today's Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, and made its way to Tokyo (Japan) by way of Edmonton (Canada), Anchorage (Alaska), and Shemya in the Aleutian Islands. From Tokyo, the flight continued to Shanghai (China) and to Manila (Philippines). Service to Seoul (South Korea) from MSP commenced on October 20, 1947, and Naha, Okinama was included as a stop on the Manila route on November 16, 1947. Service to Shanghai had to be suspended in May 1949 because of China's ongoing civil war. Northwest launched service (from MSP) to Taipei Taiwan on June 3, 1950. With its new intercontinental routes in place, the airline re-branded itself as Northwest Orient Airlines, although the legal name of the company remained Northwest Airlines.

Global expansion

Template:Refimprove On August 1, 1949, Northwest took delivery of its first double-deck Boeing 377 Stratocruisers, which allowed the airline to offer a higher standard of service and reduce flight times. The Stratocruiser was introduced on the US-Tokyo route from September 27, 1952, while DC-6B aircraft began serving Tokyo and Manila from the U.S.A. from April 1, 1954.

It was in 1951, when Northwest became involved with the formation of Japan Air Lines (JAL) by leasing aircraft and crew to the new company. In 1952, under the U.S.-Japan bilateral aviation treaty, Northwest and Pan American World Airways were the two U.S. flag carriers awarded rights to fly not only from U.S. gateway cities to Tokyo (Japan), but also to carry 'fifth freedom' traffic beyond Japan.

Northwest remains the largest non-Japanese carrier at Tokyo Narita Airport, with flights to several cities in Far East Asia as well as in South East Asia, including Seoul and Busan (South Korea), Manila (Philippines), Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shanghai (China), Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), and a separate route pattern that links Japan with Saipan and Guam in the Western Pacific region. [citation needed]

A Northwest Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30. Northwest was the last major airline to operate the DC-10 when it was retired on January 8, 2007.

Northwest meteorologists pioneered the first clear-air turbulence forecasting system in 1957, important since the airline flew many northern routes over turbulence-prone mountain areas. Northwest remains a leader in turbulence prediction, providing TPAWS (turbulence prediction and warning services) to other airlines.[15]

On June 1, 1959, Northwest took delivery of its first turboprop jet aircraft, the Lockheed L-188 Electra. On July 8, 1960, Northwest put the Douglas DC-8 into service, offering the shortest flight times on routes to Asia. In August 1960, Northwest retired the last Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. The airline took delivery of the Boeing 720B in 1961, and in 1963, with the new Boeing 707, and the retirement of the last propeller aircraft, Northwest became the first U.S. airline with an all-turbofan jet fleet, hence the slogan "Northwest Orient: The Fan-Jet Airline." Northwest began operating the Boeing 727-151 in 1964.[citation needed]

Northwest took delivery of its first Boeing 747-151 aircraft in 1970. The airline began retiring the older Boeing 707s, and using the newer 747s on high-density domestic routes, where the 727 lacked sufficient capacity.[citation needed]

In 1975, Northwest was headquartered on the grounds of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.[16][17]

Merger with Republic and the 1990s

Template:Unreferenced section After airline deregulation, Northwest began nonstop flights to other Asian cities, returned to China in 1984 after a 34 year hiatus, and gradually strengthened its presence in the southern United States. It also began flying to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia. On October 1, 1986, in response to United Airlines purchase of the Pacific routes of Pan American Airlines, and in order to provide the domestic feed it required to compete effectively, Northwest merged with Minneapolis-St. Paul-based Republic Airlines. NWA then adopted its three-hub network centered around Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, and Memphis. Northwest dropped the word Orient from its brand name after the merger.

In 1989, Northwest introduced a new identity designed by Landor Associates superseding the 1970 logo and livery, which had been used since 1986, minus the word "Orient." A new livery, nicknamed the "bowling shoe" by employees, featuring colors of red, white, gray, and blue, was adopted at the same time.

1989 also saw major changes in ownership at the airline. Northwest was purchased in a 1989 leveraged buyout by an investment group headed by Al Checchi, Fred Malek and Gary Wilson, with KLM, and many others. To pay off the debt incurred in their takeover, the new management sold many of the airline's aircraft to leasing companies, and sold property around the world, including land in central Tokyo. The expense of the buyout was so great that in 1993, following several years of losses due to industry overcapacity and a traffic downturn following the Gulf War, Northwest threatened bankruptcy unless its employee groups agreed to three years of wage cuts. After signing the concessionary agreements, Northwest made its first profit since 1989.

Also in 1993, Northwest began its strategic alliance with KLM, which was the largest airline partnership ever conceived at the time. This partnership eventually became the Wings Alliance. However, the alliance never grew beyond the two airlines, and is now obsolete from a passenger's perspective, because both airlines are part of the larger SkyTeam Alliance. (From a legal perspective, the Northwest/KLM alliance remains important: it has antitrust immunity, whereas the broader SkyTeam alliance merely has code-sharing privileges.) Northwest gradually pulled out of its minor European destinations and once more focused its attention on the domestic and Asian markets. On May 1, 1996, Northwest began the first nonstop service from the U.S. to China, on the Detroit-Beijing route. Nonstop Detroit-Shanghai service followed in April 2000. Later, these nonstop services were suspended in 2002 due to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).[citation needed] Northwest currently serves these routes via Tokyo. The airline sought government approval to restore nonstop Detroit-Shanghai service in March 2007 but lost its bid to United's Washington Dulles-Beijing route; however, Northwest recently received tentative authority to restart nonstop Detroit-Shanghai service starting March 25, 2009.

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, Northwest enjoyed profits and focused on improving technology to increase convenience while reducing costs. The airline has offered airport self-service check-in kiosks since 1997, and has more than any other airline. Northwest was also the first large U.S. airline to offer passengers Internet check-in, with service from December 2000. During the early 2000s, Northwest Airlines acquired a reputation of refusing to adopt industry-wide fare increases that had been accepted by other United States airlines. This changed in March 2005, when Northwest adopted fare hikes in response to rising oil prices.

September 11, 2001 aftermath and beyond


File:NW 747-200.jpg
747-251B in the "Bowling Shoe" livery. This livery was used from 1989 until 2003.[citation needed]

Due to the effects of competition from low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines and increased labor costs resulting from a new contract with employees represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) labor union, Northwest began to make cutbacks in early 2001. Two small rounds of employee layoffs and other cutbacks were implemented in the months prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Following the attacks, Northwest was forced to make dramatic changes to its business structure through major employee layoffs and other cost cutting measures. The retirement of costly and aging aircraft such as the Boeing 727 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40 were accelerated as new aircraft went into service. In addition, the airline pursued options to reduce costs across the board, including removing pillows, peanuts, pretzels, in-flight entertainment on domestic flights, and newspapers and magazines. Also, over 50 McDonnell Douglas DC-9, Boeing 757, Boeing 747, and Airbus A320 family aircraft were withdrawn from use in an attempt to lower overall capacity and save money. Some of these aircraft have since been returned to service.[citation needed]

Following many years of a pioneering and close partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Northwest, along with partners KLM and Continental Airlines, joined the SkyTeam, an airline alliance of ten airlines from around the world, on September 15, 2004. This was partially a result of Air France acquiring KLM, forming the Air France-KLM group. The airline continued to hemorrhage money, however. In the spring of 2005, a media spectacle occurred when the news leaked that top executives in the company had been selling much of their stock. Subsequently, shareholders filed lawsuits against four top officials for insider trading, including Chairman Gary Wilson, CEO Doug Steenland, former director Al Checchi and former CFO Bernie Han.[citation needed]

Despite far-reaching money saving initiatives, Northwest was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the first time in its 79-year history. The filing took place in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on September 14, 2005. With Northwest's filing, four of the six largest U.S. carriers were operating under bankruptcy protection. Northwest joined Delta Air Lines (which filed just minutes before), United Airlines, and US Airways in bankruptcy. All four of these carriers have since emerged from bankruptcy protection. Northwest common stock shares dropped more than 50% for the second time in three days following the news, largely because stock is generally canceled as part of the bankruptcy process. In the following weeks, Northwest Airlink carriers Mesaba Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines both announced that Northwest had missed payments to them for their Airlink flying. Northwest also announced plans to shrink its Airlink fleet by over 45 aircraft. Mesaba Aviation filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on October 13, 2005. However, Northwest recently announced that it would once again increase capacity.[citation needed]

A Northwest Airlines A319 on landing at San Jose, California.

Northwest announced that on May 18, 2007, that shares of the company would begin to be traded on the NYSE under the ticker NWA. Initial trading on a "when-issued" basis began on May 21, 2007, and regular trading began on May 31, 2007. Also on May 18, 2007, Northwest Airlines was cleared by a federal bankruptcy judge to emerge from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on May 31, 2007. It ended Northwest's 20 months of difficulty trying to slash costs, although it will still likely be an uphill battle, as labor unions who made large concessions will demand higher pay.[18]

On July 16, 2007, Northwest Airlines applied to the United States Department of Transportation for nonstop service between its WorldGateway hub at Detroit to Shanghai (beginning in 2007 on Boeing 747-400s) and to Beijing (beginning in 2010 on Boeing 787 Dreamliners). The airline faced off against Delta Air Lines (who proposed Atlanta to Shanghai and Beijing), American Airlines (Chicago/O'Hare-Beijing), Continental Airlines (Newark-Shanghai), US Airways (Philadelphia-Beijing), United Airlines (Los Angeles-Shanghai and San Francisco-Guangzhou), and MAXjet (Seattle-Shanghai) in the route competition.[citation needed]

On August 12, 2007, Northwest Airlines became a possible passive investor in the purchase of Midwest Airlines by TPG Capital. They stated that while they are an investor, they will not participate in any management or control of Midwest Airlines.[19] However, on August 14, 2007, AirTran Airways raised their offer for Midwest to $16.25 a share, 25 cents more than the TPG offer.[20] But soon after on August 17, 2007, TPG Capital raised their offer to $17.00 a share which sealed the deal. Northwest Airlines became a minority owner of Midwest Airlines in the fourth quarter of 2007.[6]

On September 25, 2007, Northwest Airlines received DOT approval to begin service to Shanghai from their Detroit hub beginning March 25, 2009. American, Continental, Delta, and US Airways also received new or additional China route authority to Shanghai or Beijing, and United received authority to serve Guangzhou.[citation needed]

Merger with Delta Air Lines

File:DL-NW Tails.jpg
Most common symbol for the merger.

On April 14, 2008, Northwest Airlines announced that it would be merging with Delta Air Lines to form the world's largest airline. The merger was approved on October 29, 2008. The new airline will use the Delta name and branding. The Northwest brand will be retired in early 2010.

Labor relations

Template:Refimprove A recurring issue in Northwest's history is its troubled labor relations. In 1998, Northwest walked away from the bargaining table, locked out its pilots (represented by ALPA) and shut down the airline for more than two weeks. The airline sustained heavy losses as a result, and ended 1998 in the red, after being profitable since 1993.[citation needed]

A Northwest Airlines 757-351.

On August 20, 2005, after months of negotiations, an impasse declared by the NMB and a 30-day cooling off period, the over 4,750 Northwest aircraft mechanics, janitors, and aircraft cleaners represented by AMFA went on strike against the company. After numerous negotiation sessions, no agreement was reached, and the company began hiring permanent replacement workers. In mid-October, after permanently hiring about 500 non-union workers, Northwest made a final offer to the union. The offer would have saved only 500 union jobs and offered a mere four weeks of severance pay to terminated employees. This offer was significantly worse than the original declined by the union, which would have saved over 2,000 jobs and offered 16 weeks of severance pay. On October 20, 2005, AMFA announced that it would not allow its members to vote on the offer, citing that parts of the contract would violate the union's commitment to its members. Finally, in late December 2005, Northwest made what it termed its "final offer" to the union. The agreement would have terminated all striking workers and given them rights to unemployment compensation. The union voted down the offer. On October 9, 2006, AMFA leadership and Northwest reached an agreement.[21] Under the settlement, all AMFA workers still on strike as of that date will be converted to lay-off status with 5 weeks of severance pay (10 weeks if they resign from Northwest). However, these employees will have a right of recall to their old jobs. Approval of the settlement was[22] on November 6, 2006.

On May 30, 2007, it was announced that the flight attendants narrowly agreed to concessions and became the last major work group at Northwest to agree to new contract terms. The deal was approved by a vote of 2,966 to 2,862. Union leaders said that 90.5 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. The new contract provides Northwest with $195 million in annual cuts through 2011.[citation needed]

Negotiations with attendants had been ongoing and contentious for several years. The flight attendants were unable to strike during negotiations because of a court injunction and the refusal of the mediation board to release them from bargaining which would have allowed the setting of a strike deadline. The attendants had been working under imposed pay cuts and work rules since July 2006 when a previous tentative agreement was rejected by 55 percent of the voting members.[citation needed]

Prior to the May 2007 agreement, union leaders had expressed concern that the defeat of the agreement could prompt the National Mediation Board to recess talks indefinitely resulting in the loss of a $182 million bankruptcy claim the attendants had against Northwest. With the new agreement, the $182 million claim will eventually be sold for cash with an estimated pre-tax value of $15,000 to $18,000 per flight attendant. Other labor unions at Northwest received similar claims as part of their concessionary agreements.[citation needed]

Previous to the recent agreements, Northwest provided employees with stock in exchange for concessions. For example, In 1993 Northwest's pilots, ground workers and flight attendants received stock and seats on the board of directors in exchange for pay cuts. As part of the agreement, Northwest was supposed to buy back these preferred shares in 2003 but refused to do so citing financial distress. Flight attendants, ground workers and mechanics still holding those preferred shares will now get shares of new Northwest stock (estimated at a combined value of $277 million).[citation needed]

In the summer of 2007 Northwest also had labor conflict with its pilots, over the large number of end of the month flight cancellations. The pilots claim that Northwest did not have the pilots to fly its schedule; Northwest accused the pilots of calling in sick to create the problem. This was resolved with a new agreement with ALPA in August 2007 in which pilots will be compensated for overtime. Northwest has also since begun hiring of new pilots to alleviate the pilot shortages they have faced throughout the summer of 2007.[citation needed]


Further information: Northwest Airlines destinations

Northwest primarily operates a hub and spoke route system with hubs in Amsterdam, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Tokyo. The Amsterdam hub primarily consists of service from the U.S. to that city with beyond flights operated by KLM. It operates a few routes outside the hub system, such as Honolulu. Indianapolis is served as a focus city with much, but not all, of the added service to non-hub cities through Northwest Airlink flights along with Seattle.

Northwest has concentrated on flights to and from its hubs. In 1991, it began service to Australia, which had been abandoned by Continental a few years earlier after United and Qantas began non-stop flights to the continental U.S. using the newly introduced, long range 747-400, which Continental did not operate. Northwest routed its Sydney-New York flight through Osaka, which raised Japanese protest because less than 30% of passengers on the Australia-Japan segment were originating in the U.S.[23]

In the mid-1980s, Northwest operated the only U.S. flag carrier service to Glasgow, Oslo, and Stockholm, as well as service to Copenhagen. However, this was later withdrawn after several years. From 2000 Northwest operated flights to Milan and Rome, both were later withdrawn (from 2003 to 2005 Rome was served only during the summer season); In 2009, service to Rome was then resumed for the summer season. From 1996 until 2002, Northwest operated nonstop flights from its Detroit hub to Beijing and Shanghai. Eventually, these routes were suspended. Northwest currently operates these routes from Detroit with a connection at its Tokyo-Narita hub. However, on July 16, 2007, Northwest re-applied with the US Department of Transportation for nonstop service between Detroit and both Beijing and Shanghai.[24] On September 25, 2007, the US Department of Transportation tentatively awarded authority to Northwest for a new Detroit to Shanghai (Pudong) route effective March 25, 2009. The route will be flown using the Boeing 747-400 until the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft becomes available. However, the Detroit-Shanghai nonstop route will be taken over by Delta effective October 24, 2009 using its Boeing 777-200ER aircarft after the airline ended nonstop service between Atlanta and Shanghai due to weak customer demand. In 2008, Northwest was one of several U.S. airlines to receive permission from the British government to fly into Heathrow Airport in London after previously having to use Gatwick Airport. Northwest began service to Heathrow from its hubs in Minneapolis and Detroit, as well as starting Seattle-London service. However, after being acquired by Delta in 2008, the Seattle route was scheduled to end in January 2009 so the Heathrow landing slot and aircraft used could be redeployed to a more profitable route.[25] In 2009, the Heathrow routes from the Minneapolis and Detroit hubs were taken over by Delta using its Boeing 767-400ER aircraft.

Northwest Airlines also serves more Canadian cities than any other US carrier including Calgary, Edmonton, Kitchener/Waterloo, London (ON), Montreal Trudeau, Ottawa, Quebec City, Regina, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. Seasonal service is also offered to smaller Canadian cities.


Main article: Delta Air Lines fleet
A Northwest Airbus A320 in the newest livery

Northwest is in the midst of a major fleet renewal program. As part of this program, Northwest introduced a simplified new paint scheme and logo in 2003. The airline has replaced its McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft with the Airbus A330 and will eventually introduce the new Boeing 787 into their fleet. The first Airbus A330-300, used on European flights, arrived on August 6, 2003. Northwest also operates the longer range and slightly shorter A330-200 on some trans-Pacific markets, within the Far East, and on some transatlantic routes. The majority of Northwest Airlines flights to and from Europe are operated by the Airbus A330; Northwest is the largest operator of the type in the world.[26] The airline also offers the youngest transatlantic fleet of any North American or European airline[citation needed]. Northwest Airlines also began operating reconfigured Boeing 757-200 aircraft for European flights with fewer passengers. Northwest is one of only two passenger airlines in the United States to operate the Boeing 747-400, with the other being United Airlines. There are several cargo airlines in the United States operating the Boeing 747.

In the future, Northwest is looking for manufacturers to discuss the replacement of their 100 and 125 seat McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft, with an average age of 35 years.[27][28] It is possible that they might order aircraft from the Embraer 195 or the Airbus A320 families.[29] Although narrow-body aircraft may be a possible replacement, many industry analysts see that Northwest Airlines will purchase regional jets in an effort to save the airline money (as Regional Jet pilots and crew are paid less than narrow-body pilots and crew).[30] In January 2008, Northwest advised its pilots that the airline plans to cut its fleet of 92 DC-9s to 68 by the end of 2008. Northwest stated that pilot jobs will not be reduced, as they are hiring approximately 200-250 pilots by the end of the year.[31] On April 23, 2008, due to soaring fuel costs from $1.85 in the 1st quarter of 2007 to $2.77 in the 1st quarter of 2008, Northwest announced that an additional 15 to 20 aircraft will be removed from its fleet by the end of 2008. The grounded aircraft are expected to include about 10 more DC9s, with the balance of the 15 to 20 being a mix of 10 757s & 4 A320s.

The Northwest Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft as of September 2008.[32] Northwest Airlines has an average fleet age of 18.5 years as of the end of 2007.[33]

Northwest Airlines' Boeing customer code is "51". As part of the merger with Delta, aircraft are being repainted in Delta colors.

Northwest Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Orders
Routes IFE Notes Livery
Airbus A319-100 2
VIP Charters
54 (54/0)
124 (16/108)
Domestic short-medium haul
United States, Canada, Mexico
None 7 in 54-seat config for VIP Charters 14 - Delta
43 - Northwest
Airbus A320-200 69 2
148 (16/132)
Domestic short-medium haul
United States, Canada, Mexico
None 31 - Delta
38 - Northwest
Airbus A330-200 11 0 243 (32/211) International medium-long haul
Transatlantic, transpacific, intra-Asia, India
Panasonic 3000i AVOD Largest US operator of the Airbus A330 3 - Delta
8 - Northwest
Airbus A330-300 21 0 298 (34/264) International medium-long haul
Transatlantic, transpacific, Honolulu
Panasonic 3000i AVOD Largest US operator of the Airbus A330 12 - Delta
9 - Northwest
Boeing 747-400 16 0 403 (65/338) International long haul
Transpacific and Transatlantic
Panasonic 3000i AVOD
(World Business Class)
Overhead projectors
Launch customer 6 - Delta
10 - Northwest
Boeing 757-200



0 Domestic
182 (22/160)
184 (22/162)
182 (20/162)
160 (16/144)
Domestic/international short-medium haul
North American, transatlantic, intra-Asia
(Business, international 5600 series only)
Overhead CRTs
(Economy, international 5600 series only)
15 fitted with winglets 19 - Delta
26 - Northwest
Boeing 757-300 16 0 224 (24/200) Domestic medium-long haul
North American, U.S. west coast-Hawaii
Overhead LCDs Only customer with Pratt & Whitney engines 6 - Delta
10 - Northwest
Boeing 787-8 0 18
202 (48/154) International long haul
Transatlantic, transpacific, intra-Asia
TBA Entry into service: 2010

First North American Airline to fly the 787

Delta may not take delivery of the aircraft. [34]

McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 27 0 100 (16/84) Domestic short haul
United States, Canada
None 24 to be phased out All - Northwest
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-40 8 0 110 (16/94) Domestic short haul
United States, Canada
None All - Northwest
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 34 0 125 (16/109) Domestic short haul
United States, Canada
None 27 - Delta
7 - Northwest
Total 304 25
117 - Delta
187- Northwest

*First Class is offered on most domestic flights. World Business Class is offered on transatlantic/transpacific flights.


Northwest Airlines Retired Fleet
Aircraft Year Retired Replacement Notes
Boeing 727-100 1991 McDonnell Douglas DC-9
Boeing 727-200 2003 Airbus A320 Family
Boeing 747-100 2000 Boeing 747-400
Boeing 747-200 2007 Airbus A330 Family 2 retained for charter use
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10 2005 Airbus A320 Family
McDonnell Douglas MD-80 1999 Airbus A320 Family Acquired during merger with Republic Airlines
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 2007 Airbus A330 Family Sold to ATA Airlines and Omni Air International
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40 2002 Boeing 757-300

NWA Cargo

File:Northwest Airlines Cargo, Boeing 747.jpg
A Northwest Airlines Cargo Boeing 747 at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska

As of 2006, Northwest Airlines Cargo is the largest cargo carrier among U.S. combination passenger and cargo airlines. NWA Cargo’s fleet of dedicated Boeing 747 freighter aircraft fly from some key cities the United States and East Asia as well as Amsterdam[35] connecting with the carrier’s cargo hub in Anchorage, Alaska (Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport), facilitating the quick transfer of cargo between large cities on both sides of the Pacific. NWA Cargo also transports freight aboard the passenger fleet of Northwest Airlines to more than 250 cities worldwide. Delta announced that the NWA Cargo hub will be shut down by the end of 2009.[36]

As of early 2008, NWA's largest cargo client is DHL International. In December 2007, NWA announced that DHL International would terminate its cargo agreement with the airline effective late 2008. According to NWA Chief Financial Officer Dave Davis, the loss of its largest cargo client will bring significant changes to the division.[37]

Further changes to the NWA Cargo division will continue into 2009 as it is merged into the Delta Cargo service.[38]


World Business Class

World Business Class is the equivalent of business class on Northwest Airlines' international flights. It is currently available on Airbus A330, Boeing 747-400, and trans-Atlantic Boeing 757-200 aircraft. On Airbus A330 and Boeing 747-400 aircraft, seats have 60 inches of pitch and 176 degrees of recline. On trans-Atlantic Boeing 757-200 aircraft, seats have 60 inches of pitch and 150 degrees of recline. Passengers aboard this class receive free meals and refreshments, including alcoholic beverages. All seats are equipped with Audio-Video-On-Demand (AVOD), universal power-ports, a moveable reading light, a folding work table, and a swivel cocktail table.

Domestic First Class

Typical dinner served in Domestic First Class

Domestic First Class is offered on domestic flights. It is available on Airbus A319, A320, Boeing 757-200 (Domestic), 757-300 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft as well as onboard CRJ-900 Northwest Airlink flights operated by Mesaba Airlines and EMB-175 flights operated by Compass Airlines. Seats range from 19.5 to 21.5 inches wide, and have between 34 and 37 inches of pitch. Passengers aboard this class receive free meals, refreshments, and alcohol.

International Economy Class

Economy Class is available on all international flights. Seats range from 17 to 17.5 inches wide, and have between 31 and 34 inches of pitch. Passengers aboard this class receive free meals, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages. Beer and wine are complimentary on international flights with complimentary meals, other alcoholic beverages can be purchased for a fee.

Passengers aboard Airbus A330 aircraft also have an Audio-Video-On-Demand (AVOD) system located in the seat back in front of them, and passengers seated in rows 10-23 (A330-200) or rows 10-28 (A330-300) have a universal power-port located below their seat.

Domestic Economy Class

Economy Class is available on all domestic flights. Seats range from 17 to 17.5 inches wide, and have between 30 and 33 inches of pitch. Passengers aboard this class receive free refreshments. Additionally, snack boxes, sandwiches (on select flights), and light snacks may be purchased as part of a buy on board program. Alcoholic beverages may be purchased for a fee.[39]

Before 2008, Northwest Airlines was the only major U.S. airline (aside from low-cost, short-haul Southwest Airlines, Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines) to not offer any in-flight entertainment within North America (including Alaska). Although several of the airlines domestic aircraft were originally equipped with in-flight entertainment systems, these were removed in 2005 to cut costs. US Airways implemented a similar initiative in 2008. However, on flights to Hawaii, audio and video programming is still available.

On flights between Honolulu International Airport and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, passengers experience the same cabin as International Economy Class aboard Airbus A330 aircraft.


WorldPerks offers regular travelers the ability to obtain free tickets, First Class upgrades on flights, discounted membership for its airport lounges (WorldClubs), or other types of rewards. Customers accumulate miles from actual flight segments they fly or through Northwest's partners, such as car rental companies, hotels, credit cards, and other vendors. WorldPerks' elite tiers are Silver Elite, Gold Elite and Platinum elite which allow for more mileage bonus, priority wait lists and standby and other benefits. Over the years, some details of the program have changed, such as introducing capacity controlled awards (only a certain number of seats are allocated for free travel), expiration of account if no activity occurs in three years, requirement of a Saturday night stay for domestic coach awards, waiving of capacity controls for awards but requiring double the amount of miles for redemption, and adding several partner airlines for mileage accumulation and award redemption.[40] The original name of the WorldPerks program was the Northwest Orient Airlines Free Flight Plan, which began in 1981.[41] The original program used paper coupons and gave credit for flight segments, much like the current Southwest Airlines program. Upon renaming the program to "WorldPerks", a mileage based system was begun. WorldPerks will be merged with Delta SkyMiles in Octoer 2009.[42]

In addition to its Northwest Airlink and SkyTeam alliance partnerships, Northwest offers frequent flyer partnerships with the following airlines:[43]

Northwest also offers frequent flyer partnerships with the following car rental agencies:[44]


WorldClubs is Northwest's member lounge. Members have reciprocal access to a number of other clubs, including fellow SkyTeam carriers such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Air France. Northwest also has partnerships with various other airline lounges on an airport-by-airport basis. Unlike some other airline lounges, WorldClubs offer free alcoholic beverages in domestic locations and Tokyo-Narita. Northwest also offers free Wi-Fi internet access worldwide.


The following locations are Northwest Airlines WorldClub locations:

Northwest WorldClub

Northwest Airlines WorldClub members are allowed to use partner clubs, which offer more clubs in more locations.[46]

Delta announced that Northwest's member lounge will be renamed to "Delta Sky Club" following its merger with Northwest. Signage will begin in early April and be completed by the end of 2009.[47]

Codeshare agreements

Northwest Airlines has codeshare agreements with the following airlines as of March 2009:

Incidents and accidents

Fatal accidents

The following are major incidents and accidents that occurred on Northwest's mainline aircraft.

Northwest Airlines Reported Incidents
Flight Date Aircraft Location Description Casualties
Fatal Serious Minor Uninjured Ground
2 January 10, 1938 Lockheed
Bozeman, Montana Crashed in the Bridger Mountains, 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Bozeman, Montana. This was the airline's first fatal crash. Three other Lockheed Model 14 aircraft belonging to Northwest crashed over the next thirteen months. 10
4422 March 12, 1948 Douglas DC-4 Mount Sanford, Alaska Flight 4422 was a military charter en route back to the US from Shanghai, China and had just refueled at Merrill Field, in Anchorage, Alaska before continuing on toward LaGuardia Airport where the flight was to be concluded. The aircraft veered 23 miles off course and struck a mountain during a snowstorm. The snowstorms quickly buried the aircraft in a mountain glacier. 30
421[50] August 29, 1948 Martin 202 Winona, Minnesota Northwest 421 was flying a scheduled domestic route from Chicago-Minneapolis-St. Paul when it crashed about 4.1 miles (6.6 km) NW of Winona, Minnesota after entering the leading edge of a thunderstorm. Pieces of the plane were seen falling, and the plane was found on a bluff on the east side of the Mississippi River. The cause of the crash was fatigue of the left wing, causing it to separate from the plane and precipitating the plunge 37
6427[51] October 27, 1948 Douglas DC-4 Edmonton, Alberta Flight 6427 was on a special cargo trip flying Minneapolis-St. Paul-Edmonton-Anchorage (Merrill Field)-Tokyo when it crashed into a wooded area 34.4 miles (55.4 km) N of Edmonton soon after takeoff. The investigation revealed that the captain had feathered the propellers in simulation to instruct the copilot on emergency procedures. This was determined to be the primary cause of the crash. 2 3
307[52] March 7, 1950 Martin 202 Minneapolis, Minnesota Flight 307 was operating a domestically scheduled passenger flight routing Washington, DC-Detroit-Madison-Rochester-Minneapolis-St. Paul-Winnipeg crashed just before landing at Minneapolis, after deciding not to land at Rochester due to weather. The plane struck a flagpole at the National Soldiers Cemetery. The plane continued flying for another 3.8 miles (6.1 km) when the left wing separated and fell. The plane crashed into a house, and both were engulfed in flames. The cause of the crash was determined to be the loss of visual reference to the ground due to the snow falling at the time 13 2
2501 June 23, 1950 Douglas DC-4 Lake Michigan Northwest 2501 was lost over Lake Michigan during a flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Seattle, WA. The aircraft went off radar and a widespread search was conducted. Some debris, upholstery, and human remains were found floating on the surface, but divers were unable to locate the plane's wreckage. 58
N/A[53] October 13, 1950 Martin 202 Almelund, Minnesota This flight was intended to be a training flight originating and ending at Minneapolis-St.Paul. The reversal of the right propeller during the flight caused the plane to spin out of control and crash, killing all on board. 6
115[54] November 7, 1950 Martin 202 Butte, Montana Flight 115 was flying a scheduled route of Chicago-Minneapolis-St. Paul-Billings-Great Falls-Helena-Butte-Seattle when it crashed 3.1 miles (5.0 km) E of Butte while landing. The plane crashed into the eastern slope of a ridge. The cause of the crash was improperly followed approach procedures. 21
115[55] January 16, 1951 Martin 202 Reardan, Washington Flight 115 (which was the same designation as the previous accident) was on the scheduled route of Minneapolis-St. Paul-Billings-Kalispell-Spokane-Wenatchee-Yakima-Seattle when it crashed about 11.9-mile (19.2 km) W of Reardan after the captain decided not to land at Wenatchee but proceed to Yakima due to weather. An emergency message from the plane was heard briefly 15 seconds after the clearance was given. The cause of the crash is not known. 10
324[56] January 19, 1952 Douglas C-54 Sandspit, British Columbia Flight 324 was flying a nonscheduled flight originating in Tokyo, ending at McChord Air Force Base with intermediate stops in Shemya and Anchorage (Elmendorf Air Force Base). While opposite Sitka, Alaska, the #1 propeller was feathered by the captain, who requested a diversion to Sandspit. As the plane was landing, it touched down about a third of the way down the runway; at around the mid-point, power was applied and the plane took off, but stalled due to the steep climb and plunged into the water at the end of the runway. The cause of the crash was icing on the plane causing the nose gear to not be able to be retracted. 36 7
2 April 2, 1956 Boeing Stratocruiser Puget Sound, Washington Flight 2 crashed after takeoff from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on a flight to Portland, Oregon, Chicago and New York City. The pilots ditched the aircraft into Puget Sound, 5.4 miles (8.7 km) off Seattle 5 2 31
710 March 17, 1960 Lockheed L-188 Electra Cannelton, Indiana Flight 710 was enroute to Miami from Chicago when the aircraft lost a wing at approximately 18,000 feet near Tell City, Indiana. 63
1-11[57] July 14, 1960 Douglas DC-7 Pacific Ocean near Manila, Philippines Northwest 1-11 was flying from New York City to Manila, Philippines with stops in Seattle, Anchorage (Cold Bay), Tokyo, and Okinawa. The plane was on its final leg between Okinawa and Manila when the No. 2 engine experienced power loss. The propeller then separated from the plane and hit the fuselage, slashing a 15-inch hole. The pilot decided to ditch the plane in the Pacific Ocean about 77.5 miles (124.7 km) NE of Manila. Upon impact, the rear of the plane separated as well as the engines and right wing. The majority of survivors used the right wing, which floated for 3 hours as a liferaft until rescue came. 1 58
104[58] October 28, 1960 Douglas C-54 Missoula, Montana Flight 104 was flying from Spokane to Missoula when it crashed about 20 miles (30 km) W of Missoula in the Clark Fork Valley. The plane was seen making a steep left banking turn with nose up; the plane continued rolling and crashed inverted. The crash was attributed to pilot error. 12
706[59] September 16, 1961 Lockheed L-188 Electra Chicago, Illinois Flight 706 was on a routine flight from Milwaukee to Miami, with stops in Chicago, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale. While departing from Chicago, the plane banked to the right and gradually descended until hitting the ground. The cause of the crash was mechanical failure in the ailerons 37
705[60]Template:Anchor February 12, 1963 Boeing 707 Florida Everglades Flight 705, flying from Miami to Chicago crashed in the Florida Everglades approximately 37 miles (60 km) SW of Miami International Airport, while diverting to avoid bad weather. The cause of the crash was determined an unrecoverable loss of control due to severe turbulence. 43
293[61] June 3, 1963 Douglas DC-7 Pacific Ocean
near Annette Island, Alaska
Flight 293 was flying a Military Air Transport Service (MATS) flight from McChord Air Force Base outside Tacoma, Washington to Elmendorf Air Force Base outside Anchorage, Alaska. While in flight, contact was lost. Floating debris from the plane was located 182.5 miles (293.7 km) WSW of Annette Island. The cause of the crash was never determined 101
6231[62] December 1, 1974 Boeing 727 Stony Point, New York Flight 6231 was flying on a ferry flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Buffalo when it crashed in the vicinity of Stony Point. As the plane was cleared to climb, the airspeed and rate of climb increased, until the plane stalled and descended out of control into a wooded area. The cause of the crash was due to loss of control because "the flight crew failed to realize and correct the aircraft's high-angle-of-attack, low-speed stall and descending spiral". 3
255 August 16, 1987 McDonnell-Douglas MD-82 Detroit, Michigan Flight 255 crashed on takeoff from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. All aboard the MD-82 were killed except for one. The cause of the crash was found to be attempted take off with the wrong wing flap setting. 154 1 2
1482[63] December 3, 1990 Douglas DC-9 Detroit, Michigan Flight 1482, a DC-9-10 departing for Pittsburgh collided with Flight 299, a Boeing 727-200, departing for Memphis at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport near the intersection of runways 09/27 and 03C/21C in dense fog. The 727 had begun its takeoff roll, and the DC-9 had just taxied onto the active runway. None of the 146 passengers and 10 crew members aboard the 727 were injured, but the DC-9 sustained serious damage. 8 10 26
299[63] December 3, 1990 Boeing 727 Detroit, Michigan Involved in collision with Flight 1482. 154
Total Casualties Fatal Serious Minor Uninjured Ground
(22 incidents) 620 18 89 187 4

Non-fatal accidents and incidents

  • On January 2-3, 1999 due to bad weather and blizzards passengers were stranded on aircraft at Detroit for periods up to 8½ hours. An official inquiry found "... [the delays] were serious and indicate that this event had important implications for passenger safety. Moreover, even if the well being of passengers had not been an issue, the review team believes that the stranding of passengers on aircraft queued on taxiways for up to 8½ hours invites more serious problems and is simply unacceptable. None of the other airlines serving Detroit experienced ground delays approaching the magnitude of Northwest's delays."[64] Subsequently, passengers brought various legal claims against the carrier including false imprisonment and negligence and obtained a $1.7 million settlement.[65]


  1. FAA Airline Certificate Information
  2. "creditapp.pdf." Northwest Airlines. Retrieved on May 18, 2009.
  3. "NWA pilots threaten to oppose merger." Minnesota Public Radio. April 14, 2008. Retrieved on July 28, 2009.
  4. WATS Scheduled Passenger - Kilometres Flown
  5. Scheduled Freight Tonne - Kilometres Flown
  6. 6.0 6.1 Northwest Airlines Becomes Minority Owner of Midwest Airlines (Midwest Airlines Official Press Release: August 17, 2007)
  7. Letter from Northwest
  8. Delta, Northwest to consolidate gates at airports
  13. Parcel Post
  14. First Commercial Flight from U.S. to Japan: July 15, 1947 (Northwest Airlines Website)
  15. Northwest Airlines is a Leader in Turbulence Prediction (Post Gazette: May 3, 2005)
  16. World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 20, 1975. 496.
  17. "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 30, 1985. 104." Retrieved on July 23, 2009.
  18. Northwest clear to exit Chapter 11
  19. Northwest Airlines To Become Passive Investor of Midwest Airlines (Official Press Release: August 13, 2007)
  20. Northwest Airlines and TPG Bid Now In Competition with AirTran Airways (USA Today: August 14, 2007)
  21. Strike settlement agreement
  22. Northwest Airlines Strike Settlement Approved (November 6, 2006)
  23. Northwest Airlines Past Route To Australia
  24. Northwest Airlines Announces Bid For U.S.-China Nonstop Service
  26. Northwest Airlines Becomes Largest Airbus A330 Operator In The World (Official Press Release: October 18, 2007)
  27. U.S. Airlines Put Off Buying New Planes
  28. Using Old DC-9s Pays Off for Northwest
  29. Northwest Airlines Discusses Future DC-9 Replacement (Official Press Release: October 5, 2006)
  30. Northwest Airlines Begin Receiving Regional Jet Orders (Star Tribune: July 10, 2007)
  31. Northwest Airlines To Reduce DC-9 Aircraft (USA Today: January 22, 2008)
  32. Northwest Airlines Corporate Fleet Information
  33. Average Fleet Age for Selected U.S. Carriers - Airsafe
  34. [1]
  35. [2]
  37. NWA weighs cargo options after DHL (The Detroit News, December 5, 2007)
  38. [3]
  39. "In-Flight Meals." Northwest Airlines. Accessed October 11, 2008.
  40. Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Program Information
  41. Northwest Orient Free Flight Plan
  43. Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Airline Partnerships
  44. Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Car Rental Partnerships
  45. Northwest Airlines Partners With Budget Rent A Car (Official Press Release: August 22, 2008)
  46. WorldClubs Location Directory
  47. Delta Renames Airport Lounges 'Delta Sky Clubs' Following Merger with Northwest
  63. 63.0 63.1
  65. Tension on a crowded plane nears the breaking point as it festers, snowbound, Wall Street Journal
  66. Harlan, Bill. "Landing incident prompts investigations", Rapid City Journal, 2004-06-21. Retrieved on 2008-04-06.
  67. "Landing photo of Flight 1432".
  68. "乱気流NW機 ベルト締めず悲鳴 「飛ばされ天井に穴」 (Japanese)", 2009-02-20. Retrieved on 2009-02-20.
  69. Yuasa, Shino. "50 hurt in turbulence on Japan-bound flight", 2009-02-20. Retrieved on 2009-02-20.
  70. "Information on Northwest Airlines Flight 2 Involved in Turbulence Incident." Northwest Airlines. Retrieved on February 20, 2009.

Further reading

External links

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