Minneapolis International says goodbye to NWA, hello Delta

Swapping out the signs
Daniel Duggan of Oakdale, MN works on swapping out Northwest medallions with Delta Airlines signage at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport on Monday, March 30, 2009.
MPR Photo/Caroline Yang

Jim Haglund has been boarding Northwest planes at the Minneapolis Airport since 1958. He has more than 1.5 million frequent flier miles, and he's well aware of Delta's plans to absorb Northwest. Still, Haglund was taken aback when he walked into the Lindbergh Terminal to catch a flight earlier today.

"I walked in here this morning. It's hard to express my feelings," he said.

Just about everything that once said Northwest now says Delta: From baggage carts and the banks of flight monitors to the check-in stations and the circular lights over the concourse. All Northwest employees were in Delta uniforms.

Jim Haglund
Jim Haglund has been boarding Northwest planes here at the airport since 1958. He has more than 1.5 million frequent flier miles. And he's well aware of Delta's plans to absorb Northwest.
MPR Photo/Martin Moylan

It hit Haglund that a Twin Cities icon was getting much closer to fading into history.

"They've been around 83 years. Everyone used to complain about them a lot, but I always defended them," said Haglund. "I'd say they're the hometown airline. We can go anywhere in the world from here. They've meant so much to this community. They've always been identified with the Twin Cities area. To see this now, it's a real shock."

Haglund's sentiment was shared by other travelers, including Jena Kline, who was in town to visit family. She now lives in Hawaii, but she was raised in Minnesota and grew up flying with Northwest.

"Northwest has been around for so long. It's tough not to see it anymore: the red and the symbols and stuff," said Haglund.

Installing the new Delta signage
Crews worked to install new Delta Airlines signage outside at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday, March 30, 2009.
MPR Photo/Caroline Yang

Other travelers were less emotionally touched.

Josh Clausen of Minneapolis says he's really not going to miss Northwest.

"As long as the airline gets me to where I'm going, I don't really mind one way or the other," said Clausen.

Some travelers recalled the frequently bitter labor and political battles involving Northwest over the years.

Getting the new signs ready
Daniel Duggan of Oakdale, MN works to replace old Northwest medallions with those featuring the Delta Airlines logo at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday, March 30, 2009
MPR Photo/Caroline Yang

Rick Hatcher of Burnsville recognizes some people will be sad to see Northwest go, but others will be glad it's departing the Twin Cities' scene.

"You know they weren't the best company either," said Hatcher.

Many travelers said Delta handled the make-over very well.

Jon Hess, who was on his way to Orlando with his wife and three children, praised Delta for making the day go smoothly.

Ticket paper at the check-in kiosks changes too
Crystal Yung of Blaine, MN, Customer Service Supervisor for Delta Airlines, removed Northwest Airlines-labelled paper from the check-in kiosks. Kiosks were also reprogrammed tonight to reflect Delta Airlines signage.
MPR Photo/Caroline Yang

"No confusion, Everything looked great," said Hess.

Delta helped travelers by including a small notes on its signs, noting that it still "serves Northwest."

Charlie Stone of Eden Prairie said navigating the airport was a breeze.

"Well, I was looking for the signs for Northwest, and I had to realize, whoops, they're no longer that name so, I had to identify where the Delta check-in was and so on. Very easy transition," said Stone.

Delta arrives at MSP
Brian Vosberg of Des Moines, IA and Shannon King of St. Paul, MN worked to replace Northwest fixtures with new Delta Airlines signage at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday, March 30, 2009.
MPR Photo/Caroline Yang

Ann Richards of Richfield believes most Minnesotans are going to remember Northwest in a positive way. Afterall, Northwest has carried far more Minnesotans than any other airline has.

"I'm sure in the long run, Minnesota will always remember Northwest. I will remember Northwest, it was the first airline I ever flew on when I was kid. When it was Northwest Orient," said Richards.

Delta says it's spending about $500 million overall to combine Northwest and Delta, creating the world's biggest airline.

Tim Mapes, Delta's Senior Vice President for Marketing, says people may not believe it, but memories of Northwest will fade fast.

Hanging the new Delta signs
Shannon King of St. Paul and Brian Vosberg of Des Moines, Iowa installed new Delta Airlines signage at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport
MPR Photo/Caroline Yang

"Customers are ready for this. We've been talking about it for nearly a year. I don't think it will be very long before people understand the benefits of the new Delta and forget about the Northwest brand as they've known it," said Mapes.

By the end of next year there will be few - if any - signs of Northwest left anywhere. All Northwest planes will be repainted in Delta colors. The big hangars at the Twin Cities airport will also be branded as Delta buildings. The airlines will have a common Web site, common frequent flier program and more. And the red tail will finally fade to blue.

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