Interesting facts about Delta Airlines that is not an advertorial for the airline! For example, did you know that they actually started as an aerial crop dusting service company? Or that it's easier to get into Harvard than to be a flight attendant with Delta? Read on to find out more
Delta Airlines needs no introduction!
Not only is it 1 of the world's oldest airlines (more on this below), it is also 1 of the "Big 4" airlines in North America, after merging with Northwest Airlines in 2008. (The other 3 largest full-service domestic carriers being American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.)
In fact, it is the "largest airline" for New York City, offering more flights in and out of the big apple than any other airline in 2021, with over 300 daily flights!
1 of my family friends worked for Delta airlines for almost her whole career and here are some of the interesting facts she shared about it!
Facts That Would Interest You...
...If You're a History Buff
- Delta started in 1925 as Huff Daland Dusters (an agricultural flying company!) before renaming itself Delta. It was incorporated as Delta Air Corporation in 1930. I believe, it is the world's 6th oldest with the very oldest airline being KLM, which was established 6 years prior, in 1919, and took its 1st flight in 1920 (London to Amsterdam.)) It was founded by Collet Everman Woolman, or C. E. Woolman.
- In fact, it has so much history that there's even a museum in its Atlanta HQ, open to the public since 1995. (I don't know what you envisioned but I was imagining a small and poky place. However, the museum actually spans 68,000 sf and is within a mile of the world's busiest airport!
- Plus you can even schedule a flight simulation session for $425! (It's the only full-motion simulation available to the general public. Participants receive a 10- minute pre-flight briefing, 45 minutes of flight time and a 5-minute review at the end. The Museum can be reached at (404) 715-7886 if you have questions.))
- The name Delta air lines originates from the Mississippi Delta region, which is where Delta Air Service mainly operated in 1928. The name is said to be the brainchild of a woman, Catherine Fitzgerald, the then-CEO's assistant!
- Whilst you and I may take the train or bus to work, some Delta flight attendants commute by plane!
- To find out more about what life in the air is like, click here!
- It played a part in World War 2, by helping to modify 916 aircraft (14 different models) to support the Allied war effort.
- It is America's most awarded airline! For example, it was awarded best airline in 2022 by Wall Street Journal.
- In 2020, Delta Airlines ranked #1 in brand value at $9.2 billion, which is probably 1 of the reasons why it was the top US airline on the World's Most Admired Companies List by Fortune (Feb 22), ranking only behind Singapore Airlines (1 of my favorite airlines!) In Feb 23, it climbed to the very top of the worldwide list (for airlines!)
- Its origin company, Huff Daland Dusters, was also the 1st aerial crop-dusting company!
- 1st airline to fly non-stop Chicago-Miami (1946) and, in 1961, offered the 1st nonstop service from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Also in 1961, it connected California and the Caribbean with the 1st jet service from California to Montego Bay and Caracas.
- In 1979, it was the 1st airline in the world to board 1 million passengers in 1 city in 1 month (Atlanta in August.)
- In 1993, Delta flights were the 1st to offer Web-based access to real-time flight operations and passenger information (e.g. the 1st Flight Diverted displays that show actual locations of diverted flights. This was particularly important during the U.S. air traffic grounding after September 11.)
- In 1995, Delta air lines flights were the 1st of the US airlines to ban smoking on all flights.
- In 1997, it was the 1st to board 100m annual passengers and to offer spa cuisine created by chefs from American and European health resorts.
- In 2004, we have Delta to thank for the invention of mileage gift cards!
- In 2007: People interested in sustainability will be happy to hear that Delta was the 1st US airline to allow customers to offset their trip's carbon emissions and to launch a comprehensive onboard recycling programme.
- In 2016: it was the 1st American airline to offer passengers free in-flight entertainment.
...If you're Thinking of Working for Delta
- It's not just customers who love them. Delta employees do too! In 2023, Glassdoor named Delta 1 of the "Best Places to Work" for the 7th consecutive year!
- 1 reason for this could be the company's generosity. In the fiscal year 2016, it returned around $1.12 billion to employees through its profit-sharing program - about 12.6% of EBITDA.
- If you get in, you can be proud! It's easier to get into Harvard than Delta as a flight attendant: according to a CNBC article, Harvard Uni's acceptance rate was 4.6% versus under 1% for Delta in 2018!
...If You're Thinking of Flying with Them
- It was rated as North America's most on-time airline by OAG.
- "First class" isn't first class on Delta. Usually, first class refers to the best seats an airline offers but the most premium seats here are actually DeltaOne. For example, DeltaOne offers flat-bed seats whilst Delta first class has a larger but non-flat one.
- As of Feb 2023, only 2 U.S. airlines offered free in-flight wifi: Delta and JetBlue Airways. (You have to be a SkyMiles member, but it's free to join. However, not all planes are equipped for this at the moment. You'll need to wait for end 2023 and end 2024 for all domestic and international flights to offer the service!)
- Pre-COVID, sending a DM to the Delta Twitter account could get your issues resolved faster than speaking to customer service as a Delta 360 passenger (aka the passengers with the highest statuses on Delta!) Of course, post-COVID and post-Elon Musk takeover, the Twitterers has changed so that may no longer be the case.)
- You can actually become an elite Medallion member of their frequent flyer program, Delta Sky Miles, without even flying! That's thanks to the co-branded American Express Delta credit cards: if you spend $25,000- $250,000 per year on the card, you can have the Medallion Qualification Dollars waived ($25 for Silver, Gold and Platinum; $250k for Diamond.)
- The number of miles required to redeem a flight changes all the time, according to demand. This means it's difficult to optimise your redemptions. However, on the bright side, you can sometimes score good Skymiles redemption deals here.
- Moreover, Skymiles cannot be used to redeem trips on Delta's cruise line, Skymiles Cruises.
- Whilst Delta's Sky Club does offer some complimentary alcohol, some have to be redeemed with Sky Miles (e.g. Dom champagne.)
- Framery Phone booths (basically soundproof pods) debuted at the Salt Lake City Sky Club (which was the largest Delta Sky Club in 2020 but no longer)- something I can envision being very helpful for Business Travellers!
... If You're Thinking of Investing In The Stock
- When I did my Masters of Business (MBA) at London Business School, the 1st thing we were taught is that the airline industry is no joke. And, indeed, Delta filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 2005 (but thankfully emerged from bankruptcy in 2007!) Its low-cost carrier, Song, also failed.
Hope you've enjoyed this list of interesting facts about Delta airlines. If there's anything you'd like to add to it, please feel free to leave a comment below! For more on other airlines, click here to read my review of Asiana Airlines Business Class!