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. 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. It is the only U.S. combination carrier (passenger and cargo service) operating dedicated Boeing 747 freighters. The airline, along with its 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 Northwest Airlink 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. Its frequent flyer program is called WorldPerks. Northwest Airlines' tagline is "Now you're flying smart."
On April 14, 2008, Northwest announced it will be merging with Delta Air Lines, subject to regulatory review. If approved, the new airline will retain only the Delta Air Lines name and brand, and become the largest airline in the world.
Northwest Airlines was founded on September 1, 1926 by Colonel Lewis Brittin, under the name Northwest Airways. Like other early airlines, Northwest's focus was not in hauling passengers, but in flying mail for the U.S. Post Office Department. The fledgling airline established a mail route between Minneapolis and Chicago, using open cockpit biplanes such as the Curtiss Oriole.
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 through Alaska could save as much as on a New York-Tokyo route. In 1933, Northwest was designated to fly the Northern Transcontinental Route from New York City to Seattle, Washington; it adopted the name Northwest Airlines the following year as a result of the Air Mail Scandal. Northwest 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 their aircraft tails red, as a visual aid in the often harsh weather conditions. This experience with the severe northern climate led the government to designate Northwest as the United States' main North Pacific carrier following the war.
In the spring of 1947 Northwest began staffing its Tokyo base with company personnel, flying them on the Great Circle route in twin-engine Douglas DC-3 aircraft. On July 15, 1947, Northwest became the first airline to fly a commercial passenger flight from the U.S. to Japan, using The Manila, a Douglas DC-4 aircraft. The flight originated at Wold-Chamberlain Field (the predecessor of today's Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport), and made its way to Tokyo by way of Edmonton, Anchorage, and Shemya in the Aleutian Islands. From Tokyo, the flight continued to Seoul, Shanghai, and Manila. Taipei replaced Shanghai after the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. With its new routes, the airline re-branded itself as Northwest Orient Airlines, although the legal name of the company remained Northwest Airlines.
On August 1, 1949, Northwest took delivery of its first double-deck Boeing 377 Stratocruisers, which allowed the airline to establish higher service standards and reduce flight time. They were used to fly the Tokyo route nonstop from Seattle, and with one stop in Anchorage from Chicago. In 1951, Northwest helped establish Japan Airlines by leasing its aircraft and crew to the new company. In 1952, under the U.S.-Japan bilateral aviation treaty, Northwest and Pan American were the two U.S. flag carriers awarded rights to fly not only from the U.S. to Japan, but to pick up and carry passengers beyond Japan. Northwest remains the largest non-Japanese carrier at Tokyo's Narita Airport, with flights to several cities in Asia including Seoul, Busan, Manila, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Bangkok, Singapore, Saipan and Guam.
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.
On June 1 1959, Northwest took delivery of its first turboprop jet aircraft, the Lockheed L-188 Electra. On 8 July1960, 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.
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.
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). 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.
On January 2, 1999, a heavy winter storm hit Northwest's hub in Detroit, seriously affecting flight operations. The blizzard dumped eighteen inches of snow on the airport, setting off a chain of events, caused by both human and environmental factors. Before it was over, some passengers had been stuck on board grounded aircraft up to 8.5 hours.
Poor communication between Northwest, Wayne County (operators of the airport), and air traffic control resulted in arriving flights continuing to land despite deteriorating conditions. With area roads impassable, the majority of airport employees were not able to report to work. Snowdrifts covered the ramp, taxiways and runways. Aircraft parked overnight could not be moved away from the gate due to the snow accumulation, and arriving flights had nowhere to go. Many passengers were thereby trapped on board, and unable to disembark for many hours. Eventually employees working through the storm were able to begin the slow process of clearing snow, move aircraft off unused gates, and allowing the inbound flights to park.
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. Subsequently, passengers brought various legal claims against the carrier including false imprisonment and negligence and obtained a $1.7 million settlement.
The problem of passengers stranded on aircraft during bad weather is a common problem among many U.S. airlines. This problem is exacerbated by the shortage of gates at some airports, the reluctance of airlines to ask other airlines for temporary gate use, other airlines not allowing the use of their gates, and reluctance of airlines to use stairs to disembark passengers. In late 2006 and early 2007, similar well-publicized incidents have occurred on other airlines, namely American Airlines in Dallas and JetBlue in New York. However, the above mentioned Northwest incident is noteworthy because of the large monetary settlement.
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.
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 15 September 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.
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 14 September 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 132005. However, Northwest recently announced that it would once again increase capacity.
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.
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 2009 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.
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. However, on August 14, 2007, AirTran Airways raised their offer for Midwest to $16.25 a share, 25 cents more than the TPG offer. 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.
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.
In early 2008 reports circulated about merger talks between Northwest and its SkyTeam alliance partner Delta Air Lines. The merger would transform both airlines because of vastly different aircraft fleets and hubs located very close together, making many expensive changes necessary for the future airline.
On April 4 2008, in an announcement seemingly unrelated to the ongoing merger talks, Northwest CEO Douglas Steenland announced revenue enhancements and capacity reductions in response to the extremely high fuel prices. About 15-20 aircraft were to be removed from the fleet.
On April 11 2008, labor unions at both airlines struck an agreement giving the green light for a merger. Both airlines announced their merger on April 14 2008. The combined airline, which will be the world's largest, will retain the Delta name.
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. 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 on 6 November 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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). 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. On September 25, 2007, the US Department of Transportation tentatively awarded authority to Northwest for a new Detroit to Shanghai (Pudong) route effective beginning March 25, 2009. The route will be flown using the Boeing 747-400 until the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft becomes available.
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.
Northwest is in the midst of a major long-haul 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 soon 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. Northwest's last DC-10 flight arrived in Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport the morning of January 8, 2007 after completing a flight from Honolulu International Airport. The last Northwest Airlines DC-10 commercial flight across the Atlantic took place on October 29, 2006, from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. 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. The airline also offers the youngest transatlantic fleet of any North American and European airline. 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. It is possible that they might order aircraft from the Embraer 195 or the Airbus A320 families. 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). 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. 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 757s, A320s and A319s.
|Airbus A319-100||57 |
|124 (16/108)||Domestic short-medium haul |
United States, Canada, Mexico
|7 converted to 54-seat Executive Class for VIP Charters|
|Airbus A320-200||73 |
|148 (16/132)||Domestic short-medium haul |
United States, Canada, Mexico
|Airbus A330-200||11||243 (32/211)||International medium-long haul |
Transatlantic, transpacific, intra-Asia, India
|Airbus A330-300||21||298 (34/264)||International medium-long haul |
Transatlantic, transpacific, Honolulu
|Boeing 747-400||16||403 (65/338)||International long haul |
Transpacific and Transatlantic
DTW-PVG (until delivery of Boeing 787)
|Boeing 757-200||55||160 (16/144) |
|Domestic/international short-medium haul |
North American, transatlantic, intra-Asia
|16 configured with winglets |
|Boeing 757-300||16||224 (24/200)||Domestic medium-long haul |
North American, U.S. west coast-Hawaii
|Only customer to order with Pratt & Whitney engines|
|Boeing 787-8||(18 orders) |
|200 (48/152)||International long haul |
Transatlantic, transpacific, intra-Asia,
Detroit-Shanghai (beginning March 25, 2009)
|Entry into service: November 2009 First North American Airline to fly the 787|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30||42||100 (16/84)||Domestic short haul |
United States, Canada
|24 to be phased out|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-9-40||11||110 (16/94)||Domestic short haul |
United States, Canada
|McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50||34||125 (16/109)||Domestic short haul |
United States, Canada
|Boeing 727||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|
As of 2006, NWA Cargo is the largest cargo carrier among U.S. combination passenger and cargo airlines. NWA Cargo’s fleet of 15 dedicated Boeing 747 freighter aircraft fly from key cities throughout the United States and Asia and connect 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.
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.
NWA Cargo serves airports and routes not served by the passenger operation — the only U.S. carrier to maintain a separate fleet and route network exclusively for cargo. Such cargo-only cities on NWA's route map include Wilmington, Ohio, and cargo only routes include Chicago, Illinois to Anchorage, Alaska.
|Boeing 747-200F||15||Freight||Operated as NWA Cargo|
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. The World Business Class cabin is used on domestic flights between Honolulu International Airport and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport following the retirement of the remaining Northwest McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft, and the uptake of Airbus A330-300 aircraft for the route.
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. 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. On flights between Honolulu International Airport and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport passengers experience the same cabin as international World Business Class as Northwest operates the Airbus A330-300 aircraft on this route following the retirement of all their remaining McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft.
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. Alcoholic beverages can be purchased for $5.00, with the exception of European routes where they are free.
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.
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 as Northwest no longer operates the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft on this route, following the aircraft's retirement. However, there is no complimentary meal service between Honolulu and Minneapolis. A selection of buy-on-board meals and snacks are available.
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, however smartsnack boxes, sandwiches (on select flights), and light snacks may be purchased for a nominal fee. Alcoholic beverages may be purchased for $5.00. Although only cash is currently accepted for on board purchases, Northwest plans on offering cashless payments (credit/debit cards) for snacks and alcoholic beverages in the near future.
Although several of the airlines domestic aircraft are equipped with in-flight entertainment systems, Northwest Airlines is 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). However, on flights to Hawaii, audio and video programming is 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 as Northwest no longer operates the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft on this route, following the aircraft's retirement.
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. The original name of the WorldPerks program was the Northwest Orient Airlines Free Flight Plan, which began in 1981. 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.
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. Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines are the only airlines in the United States that offer lifetime memberships in their airport lounge programs, something that currently costs non-elite members $4,690.
|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||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||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||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||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||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||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||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||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||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||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||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||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||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||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||December 3, 1990||Boeing 727||Detroit, Michigan||Involved in collision with Flight 1482.||154|