Some big changes are coming this weekend as Delta Air Lines accelerates its efforts to absorb Northwest Airlines.
Delta will be rebranding check-in stations, baggage claim areas, signs and other branded materials throughout the Lindbergh Terminal at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Just about everything that said "Northwest" inside the terminal will say "Delta."
Tim Mapes, Delta's senior vice president for marketing, says Northwest customers will see the biggest change so far in the integration of the two carriers. As the changes continue through the week, "the vast majority of the identity will be that of Delta," he said.
Delta already has rebranded 119 airports. The airline expects to have all U.S. airports transformed by the end of the year and all international locations by the end of 2010.
Northwest pilots, flight attendants and other employees have been fitted for Delta uniforms and they'll be wearing them starting Wednesday.
Delta says in-flight food will be enhanced, too. The carrier says it's combining the best of what both airlines offered for meals and snacks. And there'll be free munchies once again for people flying on Northwest. It had dropped snacks long ago to save money. Now travelers on Northwest will get their choice of peanuts or cookies, free of charge.
Despite the changes and common ownership, Delta and Northwest are still legally separate airlines. By the end of the year, they'll most likely receive a unified operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration.
By early 2010, Delta and Northwest plan to combine their reservation systems and Web sites. They also expect to have repainted nearly 250 Northwest jets in Delta's red, white and blue flagship colors by then. So far, 33 Northwest planes have been repainted.
Delta is already merging the Northwest WorldPerks frequent flier program into the Delta SkyMiles program. There'll be no loss of miles as people move credits from Northwest's program to the Delta program. Today, customers can already link WorldPerks and SkyMiles accounts and transfer miles between the two. Elite members of both programs are eligible for upgrades on Delta and Northwest flights.