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Northwest Airlines - About Northwest - NWA Up Close

Northwest Airlines Up Close

At Northwest Airlines, we pride ourselves at being on the cutting edge of airline technology. From establishing new routes and implementing electronic services aimed at making your travel easier and faster, Northwest Airlines is committed to making your travel experience the most convenient, most enjoyable, and safest possible.

Northwest Airlines is also proud to pioneer the concept of global alliances. Setting a standard followed by many in the industry, Northwest Airlines made worldwide travel into a virtually stress-free process.

Northwest Historical Timeline
Our history, decade by decade. Select the decade you're interested in:

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From Past to Present

1926 - Northwest Airways takes to the sky, carrying air mail from the Twin Cities to Chicago with a "fleet" of two rented, open-cockpit biplanes-a Thomas Morse Scout and a Curtiss Oriole.

1938 - Northwest develops the first practical aviation oxygen mask, making possible high-altitude flying over the Rocky Mountains.

1948 - The "Red Tail" is painted on all Northwest aircraft for the first time, creating a trademark that becomes known world-wide and that continues in use almost 50 years later.

1955 - Northwest voluntarily becomes the first airline to operate without government subsidy on Trans-Pacific and United States-Alaska routes.

1960 - Northwest begins "fastest U.S. jet service to Asia" with Douglas DC8 aircraft, the airline's first "pure jet."

1971 - Northwest is honored for noise abatement leadership by National Organization to Ensure a Sound-Controlled Environment.

1976 - Northwest is the first airline approved by FAA to install coordinated flight crew training.

1988 - Northwest bans smoking on all North American flights, the first major U.S. airline to do so.

1991 - Northwest and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines launch their first joint service, twice-weekly flights between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Amsterdam.

Stride for Stride With Today's Technology

  • Northwest became the first major airline to deploy compact self-service kiosks which enable E-Ticket customers to obtain boarding passes, make current-day flight or seat changes, obtain WorldPerks Gold upgrades, and at some kiosks check their bags all from one easy location.
  • Northwest Airline's Web site provides convenient travel content including online booking and electronic ticketing.
  • At gates serving international flights, new automated-boarding control devices help cut boarding times by as much as 30 percent.
  • A newly integrated Aircraft Maintenance System provides maintenance mechanics with better detail to assign and track maintenance projects.
  • Northwest is the first airline to use a remote control visual inspection system that peers inside aircraft engines and transmits data to Northwest Airline's technical staff.

Pioneering a New Global Alliance
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the face on the Northwest/KLM alliance has been blushing for years. Not only was the Northwest/KLM alliance the first airline alliance in the world, ours is the most deeply integrated. The Northwest/KLM alliance coordinates schedules, prices and capacity under an Open Skies agreement between the United States and The Netherlands. What this means for you is convenience. Prior to the implementation of the Alliance, travelers would often have to deboard multiple planes, recheck luggage, and keep track of several tickets to reach a single destination. Now, a flight from Boston to Bangkok is as simple as one ticket, one luggage check-in, one trip. Truly Northwest and KLM have formed a global joint venture unlike anything the world has seen before. As Air Transport World wrote in 1997, "Northwest and KLM have transformed the very structure of the airline industry."


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