The Delta-Northwest Merger and You
Both airlines issued statements stressing business as usual. Travelers will continue to book and buy tickets through the airlines' respective phone numbers/Web sites. They'll check in with the airline they're flying. Members of Northwest's WorldPerks and Delta's Skymiles will continue to earn miles with their programs. The only immediate changes: Elite members of each airline's loyalty program will receive complimentary upgrades in both programs, and will be allowed to use both airlines' airport lounges.
By the end of the year, Delta's code will be added to Northwest's system, creating more connecting flights, and, by summer 2009, the airlines' flight schedules will be consolidated, according to a statement from Delta. Within the next two years, the loyalty programs will be consolidated "including the ability to combine miles from SkyMiles and WorldPerks accounts at a one-to-one ratio." The merged airline will keep Delta's name.
The acquisition came after a six-month U.S. Justice Department investigation into claims that the merger would hurt consumers. The investigation's results, released Wednesday, concluded the merger "is likely to produce substantial and credible efficiencies that will benefit U.S. consumers and is not likely to substantially lessen competition."
Not everyone agrees with that assessment. A lawsuit was brought by 28 travelers to block the deal, but it was settled for undisclosed terms. And the Business Travel Coalition has opposed the merger, saying it will mean higher fares and fewer connections from mid-size cities.
I could argue either side. Fewer airlines generally means higher fares, but that premise is especially true when the airlines compete head on between the same cities. Northwest and Delta do overlap on some routes, but not most. From our region's airports, Northwest is a smaller player and flies mostly to the Midwest and West, while Delta offers more service to destinations in the South.
By Carol Sottili |
October 31, 2008; 9:41 AM ET
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