If It’s Bad News, It Was a Northwest Flight

Delta acquired Northwest Airlines near the end of October, 2008. Since then, Delta has been working on merging Northwest into the Delta brand. Planes are being repainted, gate signs updated, frequent flier plans merged, etc.

But one area that seems to be resisting merging is which brand to associate with negative news.

For example, the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with the pants burner has been clearly labeled a Northwest flight in the news. This happened just shy of 14 months after the merger, but it was an NWA flight. Pictures of plane on the tarmac clearly show a Delta logo, but don’t let that fool you. Here are some example headlines:

Northwest Flights in the News

One organization that failed to play along is the Albuquerque Express, who referred to the carrier as Delta Northwest:

Northwest Flights in the News

Moving back to earlier incidents, we have the Delta Northwest errant flight that also earned “Northwest” status:

Northwest Flights in the News

And a flight that has a carbon monoxide leak:

Northwest Flights in the News

And a flight with a landing gear issue that warranted a flyover for inspection:

Northwest Flights in the News

I can see why Delta would prefer to dump negative news on the evaporating NWA brand, so imagine that they’d do what they can to refer to flights by their NWA names rather than Delta names. However, a fair share of the blame seems to be the media, who didn’t get the memo that NWA is gone. Notice that many news sources are aware that Delta is the carrier:

Delta Flights in the News

This makes me wonder if my new years resolution should be to find someone I can offset blame upon. How cool would that be?

8 thoughts on “If It’s Bad News, It Was a Northwest Flight”

  1. To be fair, Delta can’t automatically change all the NWA flights to Delta flights yet due to a bunch of red tape. Technically, NWA is still a subsidiary of Delta and NWA still operates as NWA, regardless of the Delta livery on the planes. This said, being all the flights are codeshared there is some leverage here to make sure all the negativity sticks to the NWA brand. 🙂

  2. I stuck news of this on News Cut last night but nobody picked it up. The FAA awarded Delta a single operating certificate that takes effect at midnight tonight. That’s when Northwest Airlines officially goes out of existence.

  3. Some good technical points above, but still have to believe that if something good happened on a Northwest operated flight (e.g., doctor delivers baby on flight)…I have a feeling it’d be a Delta flight in the press! In the end, I think this is just good PR work from Delta – so I’d give them credit for that!

  4. Ed:

    I agree with your post that something is amiss here. As far as I’m concerned when the crews began wearing Delta uniforms on all flights is when the media should have began referring to them as Delta. That happened last spring.


  5. It reminds me of major airline’s relationships with their regional carriers too. I think I’m paraphrasing Patrick Smith of Salon – but airlines are eager to point out they can fly you across the globe and to many small U.S. towns — but when a regional carrier is responsible for an accident (i.e. Colgan Air,) the partner is quick to point out “This was a flight operated by …” rather than them.

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