Back in the days when Northwest was known as Northwest Orient (starting from the early 1950s), the airline became the first in the US to use an all-turbofan jet fleet. Thus the slogan: Northwest Orient: The Fan-Jet Airline.
Maybe that’s why Northwest struggled.
But seriously, 20 years ago this August, I boarded a Northwest flight for Hong Kong and wouldn’t return to the US for another 11 months.
I had flown across the Pacific as a teenager several times (to Seoul, Auckland, Beijing, and Papeete; four separate trips all somewhere between 1987 and 1988).
The Northwest flight to Hong Kong was the last trans Pacific flight I would take as a teenager. And it was delayed 8 hours.
My parents dropped me off at Chicago O’Hare and then took off for a car trip to Maine to drive my younger brother to college. In fairness to them, when they left me at the airport, the flight had only been delayed 4 hours at that point.
I knew I’d miss my connection in Tokyo even before I left Chicago, but that was okay. Free hotel rooms are always fun. I was a little nervous about missing my first day of college orientation in Hong Kong, but certainly I’d catch up. And I did.
After my first Northwest flight (which by 1990, the airline had dropped “Orient” from its name), I flew it one more time from Hong Kong to Chicago and back in the mid 1990s. A suitcase went missing (but reappeared a day later) and a Chinese instrument case was damaged, but I shouldn’t have checked it. My mistake.
Long after the demise of TWA and Pan Am–the two other airlines that flew from the US to Asia back in the day–Northwest remained floating until a couple years ago when it merged with Delta.