Through the Decades

Explore Delta's history and achievements and discover how the airline went from dusting crops to serving over 320 destinations on six continents.

Choose a decade:

1940s - Delta goes to war and officially becomes Delta Air Lines, Inc.


1940 Douglas DC-2 and DC-3 service introduced. Flight attendants, called "stewardesses," added to flight crews. Beverage service now features bottles of Coca-Cola. For details about Delta's early flight attendant service, see our Blog.

1941 Delta headquarters moves from Monroe to Atlanta. Atlanta is now the center of Delta's new 16-city route system. Learn more in this printable booklet.

1942 Delta contributes to the war effort. Modifies 916 aircraft, overhauls 1,000+ engines and instruments, trains Army pilots and mechanics, and operates cargo supply routes for military.

1944 Converted DC-3 cargo plane, Delta Ship 43, begins unscheduled freight services.

1945 Official corporate name becomes Delta Air Lines, Inc. Recognized by National Safety Council for more than 300 million passenger miles and 10 years of flight without a passenger or crew fatality. Delta is first airline to fly living vegetable plants (160,000 tomato plants). C. E. Woolman is President and General Manager.

1946 Delta officially enters cargo business. One-millionth passenger boards. Delta is first airline to fly nonstop Chicago-Miami, initially with Douglas DC-4 planes.

1947 Delta's fleet totals 644 available seats. Receives National Safety Award for more than one-half billion passenger miles without a fatality. Scheduled all-cargo flights begin. Delta Vacations program begins as Millionaire Dream Vacations (later Delta Dream Vacations) with packaged summer vacations to Miami.

1948 Begins interchange service with TWA personnel flying Delta planes from Cincinnati to Detroit and Delta crews flying TWA ships south from Cincinnati to Atlanta, Miami and Dallas. The Douglas DC-6 is the first Delta plane with cabin pressurization, air conditioning, seat tray tables for meals and a 6-seat Sky Lounge.

1949 Coach Class service starts; discounted-fare "Owly Bird" night flights between Chicago and Miami.

Douglas DC-2 ad
Delta ticket counter, Atlanta airport, 1940s
Loading crate into Douglas DC-47
Delta postcard, DC-6 flying over Miami Beach, 1948