1924 The Huff Daland Dusters crop-dusting operation, which formed the roots for Delta, founded in Macon, Ga. This was the first commercial agricultural flying company in existence.
1945 Delta is first airline to fly living vegetable plants (160,000 tomato plants).
1946 Delta is first airline to fly nonstop Chicago-Miami, initially with Douglas DC-4 planes.
1954 First airline to supplement visual inspection of aircraft parts with a portable x-ray machine to examine interior structures.
1955 Delta pioneers the use of the hub and spoke system. Scheduled airplanes bring passengers to a hub airport where travelers connected to other Delta flights.
1959 Delta is first airline to launch Douglas DC-8 jet service.
1959 First airline to offer complimentary meals on discounted coach flights.
1960 First airline to launch Convair 880 jet service
1961 Flies first nonstop service from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
1961 Delta links California and the Caribbean with first jet service from California to Montego Bay and Caracas.
1962 A Delta DC-8 is the first commercial plane to fly Los Angeles-Atlanta in less than 3 hours (02:57:11).
1965 Delta is first airline to launch Douglas DC-9 service.
1966 Delta is first with Lockheed L-100 Hercules all-cargo planes.
1973 First airline to simultaneously operate three of the first generation wide-bodies jets—the L-1011, Douglas DC-10 and Boeing 747.
1975 First airline to offer its own air express service, a new high priority, guaranteed cargo service called Delta Air Express.
1979 First airline in the world to board one million passengers in one city in one month (Atlanta in the month of August).
1980 First airline to make a major move from film to video in-flight entertainment, equipping its entire transatlantic L-1011 fleet in the early 1980s.
1983 First major U.S. carrier to meet new federal standards reducing flyover noise in airport neighborhoods.
1991 Delta is first to offer MD-11 jet service in U.S.
1991 First online aircraft maintenance information system in the airline industry, called Technical Operations Publishing System (TOPS).
1992 First U.S. airline with moving maps in the cabin showing aircraft’s position and route.
1993 Delta Connection is the first program to use regional jets in North America.
1993 First airline to publish business events immediately throughout its enterprise, such as passenger checking in, bag being scanned at each point of its travel, a flight pulls out from the gate, or a flight arrives. Hundreds of millions of events that happen every day are shared via Delta's Digital Nervous System (DNS).
1993 First airline with Web-based access to real-time flight operations and passenger information, including the first Flight Diverted displays that show actual locations of diverted flights, particularly critical during the U.S. air traffic grounding after terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
1994 First airline to install Gate Informational Display Screens (GIDS) in airports, made possible by the development of Delta's DNS in 1993.
1994 Introduces Rapid Redemption, the airline industry's first program allowing frequent flyers to instantly redeem mileage for free tickets or upgrades.
1995 First U.S. airline to fly smoke-free worldwide, when Delta banned smoking on all its flights. (Muse Air was first U.S. airline to fly smoke-free from 1982-1985.)
1995 Introduces the airline industry’s first seasonal menus.
1996 Delta is the first airline to offer in-seat power.
1996 First airline to offer live broadcast television programming.
1997 First airline to board more than 100 million passengers in a year.
1997 First airline to offer spa cuisine, partnering with chefs from health resorts in the U.S. and Europe.
1998 Delta and SwissCargo forge the first international cargo alliance.
1998 First airline to install automatic defibrillators on board all of its aircraft.
2000 Delta enhances its Digital Nervous System (an airline "first" in 1993) with the airline industry's first commercial messaging, making it easier to send customers proactive information, such as flight changes caused by weather events.
2000 Develops a new Customer Care system for gates and boarding processes, based on a new Cornerstone Gate Processing software application, which receives a Computerworld Smithsonian Award. The new system tracks the status of every seat on a flight, whether it is sold, reserved, if the passenger has checked in and whether they have boarded. It shortens flight boarding times and improves customer service and security.
2003 First U.S. airline with prerecorded audio flight information at the gate.
2003 Delta’s Technical Operations in Atlanta is first in the airline industry to achieve OSHA Star status for exemplary record of occupational employee safety and health.
2004 First airline to offer mileage gift cards.
2006 Delta is National Safety Council's 2006 Occupational Industry Leader—the first airline recognized.
2006 First major airline with in-seat, on-demand movies, games and live TV on a large portion of its domestic fleet, beginning with flights between JFK and the West Coast.
2007 First U.S. airline to offer customers the opportunity to help offset carbon emissions associated with air travel.
2007 First airline with a comprehensive onboard recycling program for aluminum cans, newspapers, snack containers and water bottles.
2008 First U.S. airline to announce In-flight Wi-Fi for its domestic mainline fleet; Wi-Fi goes live on Delta Shuttle flights on December 16.
2009 Becomes the only U.S. airline (since Pan Am) to serve six continents with introduction of nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia.
2010 Launches industry's first social media "ticket window," allowing customers to purchase tickets directly from Facebook and other social media sites. The app was decommissioned in 2012.
2010 Delta is the only U.S. airline with single-booking service for commercial and private jet service, through subsidiary Delta Private Jets.
2011 SkyMiles mileage expiration ends; Delta is only major U.S. carrier without mileage expiration for loyalty program members.
2011 First major carrier to allow customers to track their checked bags from check-in, aircraft loading and arrival at baggage claim.
2011 First airline with mobile baggage tracking via Fly Delta app.
2011 Delta Connection offers world’s first in-flight Internet service on regional aircraft.
2012 Purchases an oil refinery, becoming first airline to produce its own jet fuel.
2013 Delta Cargo launches Logistics Manager software for real-time tracking of all freight, an industry first for passenger airlines.
Delta first to submit plan to allow customer use of portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet as early as Nov. 1 - Oct 31, 2013
2013 First to announce that customers can use their portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet on November 1. On December 9, Delta is first mainline carrier to allow PED use below 10,000 to passengers traveling on mainline and regional aircraft.
2014 First U.S. carrier with full flat-bed seats and direct aisle access in BusinessElite on all widebody international flights
2015 First U.S.-based airline to accept Apple Pay for ticket purchases via Fly Delta app.
First U.S. carrier to deploy Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) baggage tracking technology, providing customers with improved real-time tracking of luggage throughout the travel experience. RFID bag tags and tracking technology will replace barcode hand scanning - the industry standard since the early 1990s.
Delta customers now have a map view of their bag's last scanned location on the Fly Delta mobile app
, tapping on pins and a suitcase icon to follow their bag's journey and to access text information about the location of their bag. Delta was the first airline to offer this level of visibility.
2016 Delta is the first U.S. airline to offer a spa at its airport lounge (Seattle in October, then New York-JFK in December)