Saturday, January 30, 2010


Attending a funeral tends, at some point, to become an introspective occasion. Remembering the past, mourning the future (or lack of one, perhaps); marking the passage of time. I got to do that today, and then came to work and got to see another passage, and was reminded of yet another.

The sight of this former United Airlines B737 sitting on the ramp reminded me that the final United B737 flight left LAX for San Francisco last October. United was the first airline to fly the B737; the final flight, Flight 737, was a special occasion as it traveled from one United hub to the next; LAX to SFO was the final leg. I was off that day, so these pictures of sister ships will have to do:

Northwest Airlines has been gradually fading away as the merger with Delta progresses. I've mentioned before how I've seen Northwest aircraft arrive, discharge their passengers, and then leave for the paint shop to change their colors. They return resplendent in new Delta livery, which I must admit I'm still trying to get used to seeing on Airbuses. Meanwhile, the cargo planes have left for the boneyard, never to return at all.

Today was the final day for flights using the Northwest callsign. Up until now, the Northwest flights have been more or less as usual, with the exception that flights utilizing aircraft that had already been repainted had "Delta Colors" in the remarks section of their flight plans, and their pilots checked in on frequency using that phrase. The last Northwest arrival at LAX was about 5:30 pm local time:

The final Northwest flight out departed a little over an hour later (after dark) for Las Vegas. Thus ends one of the original U.S. airlines: Northwest Airways was started in 1926 to fly the mail between Chicago and Minneapolis. Northwest flew the first commercial passenger flight from the USA to Japan in 1947, and was the largest non-Japanese airline at Tokyo's Narita Airport. In 1963, Northwest became the first US carrier to have an all-jet fleet. Another Northwest first was the commencement of non-stop air service from the US to China in 1996. After 79 years of operation, Northwest declared bankruptcy in 2005 - at almost exactly the same time as Delta. The merger was announced in 2008, making Delta the world's largest airline.

Addendum: After I wrote this entry, I discovered that we had apparently received some incorrect information about the 'last flights' when, shortly before the end of my shift, another Northwest flight showed up on final for runway 25 left. The last 'last flight' took off a few minutes later, just before 9 pm, destination Las Vegas. It's just as well, and I feel more appropriate, that I took the pictures you see here, as the 9 pm planes were already wearing their new Delta colors.


  1. I'm sure you'll still be hearing the Northwest callsign from time to time, followed by "... uh, I mean Delta."

  2. That has happened - along with the guys not answering when we call them 'Delta'. The same thing happened for a while after the US Air and America West merger. Old habits die hard . . .

  3. I was training a few months ago and a Delta pilot checked on as "Northwest 123". Old habits die very hard!